Don Giovianni, Mozart and librettist Lorenzo da Ponte’s 1787 “ drama giosco,” became a favorite of the Romantics and it has been in the repertoire ever since. The Don Juan narrative serves as as Mozartian self-portrait, for the composer knew of what he wrote.
Servant Leporello is waiting outside of Donna Annna’s house. Anna is the daughter of the Commendatore. Leporello’s masked master, Don Giovanni, has broken into the house to seduce Donna Anna. However, Giovanni’s attempt is cut short when he’s confronted by the Commendatore. A duel between the two men ends in the elder’s death. Anna does not know who the masked intruder was, but she makes Don Ottavio, her fiancee, swear revenge for the murder of the Commendatore. Leporello and Giovanni move on to other conquests, namely Donna Elvira, who turns out to be one of Giovanni’s forgotten previous mistresses.
Barely evading the woman scorned (Elvira), Leporello and Giovanni move on to Zerlina. Zerlina is engaged to Masetto, and Leporello is instructed to lure Masetto away. Elvira, however, returns to level numerous accusations against Giovanni. All of this is witnessed by Donna Anna, who now recognizes Giovanni as the voice of her father’s murderer. Again, Anna passionately pleads with Ottavio to avenge her father. At a masked ball, Giovanni attempts to rape Zerlina, but he is interrupted by the masked trio of Donna Elvira, Donna Anna, and Don Ottavio. After a bit of cloak-and-dagger disguise (during which Giovanni attempts to seduce Elvira’s maid), Giovanni and Leporello are reunited in a cemetery. There, they discover a statue of the slain Commendatore. Giovanni, tongue-in-cheek, invites the statue to dinner. The statue speaks and accepts Giovanni’s generous offer. Leporello is, naturally, horrified. The statue arrives for dinner and Giovanni, defiantly refusing to cower before the ominous specter, welcomes the guest. The statue demands that Giovanni repent, but Giovanni repeatedly refuses. Finally, the statue of the Commendatore literally drags the unrepentant Giovanni to the gates of hell. The various couples are left to start life anew. Continue reading