04 May 2008

MOZART: Don Giovanni — Salzburg 1953

Il dissoluto punito ossia il Don Giovanni (K. 527): Dramma giocoso in two acts

Music composed by W. A. Mozart. Libretto by Lorenzo Da Ponte.

First Performance: 29 October 1787, National Theater, Prague

Principal Characters:
Don Giovanni, giovane cavaliere estremamente licenzioso Baritone
Il Commendatore Bass
Donna Anna, sua figlia, dama promessa sposa di Soprano
Don Ottavio Tenor
Donna Elvira, dama di Burgos, abbandonata da Don Giovanni Soprano
Leporello, servo di Don Giovanni Bass
Masetto, amante di Bass
Zerlina, contadina Soprano

Setting: A Spanish town (traditionally Seville), in the 16th century

Synopsis:

Act I

Scene 1. The garden of the Commendatore's house

A disgruntled Leporello keeps watch while Don Giovanni tries to add Donna Anna to his list of conquests. Don Giovanni runs from the house, followed by Donna Anna, who is trying to unmask him and calling for help. Her father, coming to her aid, challenges Don Giovanni and is killed by him. Don Giovanni and Leporello make their escape before Donna Anna reappears with her betrothed, Don Ottavio, whom she calls on to avenge her dead father.

Scene 2. A street near an inn

Don Giovanni and Leporello come upon Donna Elvira, who has been seduced and abandoned by Don Giovanni and who is pursuing him. Don Giovanni slips away, leaving Leporello to explain to her that she is but one of many.

Scene 3. The countryside near Don Giovanni's house

Don Giovanni and Leporello come upon a peasant wedding. Don Giovanni orders Leporello to distract Masetto, the bridegroom, while he attempts to seduce the bride, Zerlina. He is interrupted by Donna Elvira, who warns Zerlina and persuades her to come away.

Donna Anna and Don Ottavio, not realising that Don Giovanni is the villain they are looking for, ask for his help. Elvira appears again and accuses Giovanni of faithlessness, and he tries to convince the others that she is mad. As he leaves, something in his voice and manner convinces Anna that he is her attacker and the murderer of her father.

Leporello reports to his master that he has all the peasants feasting and drinking, and Giovanni orders him to ply them wine, as he intends to add to his list of conquests.

Scene 4. The garden of Don Giovanni's house

Zerlina manages to convince the reproachful Masetto that she has done nothing wrong, but he is again suspicious when she is alarmed by Don Giovanni's voice. Another attempt on Zerlina foiled by Masetto's presence, Don Giovanni leads the couple into the house.

Donna Elvira, Donna Anna and Don Ottavio return wearing masks. Accepting Leporello's invitation to join the party, they hope this will make their revenge easier.

Scene 5. A ballroom in Don Giovanni's house

As the guests feast, dance and sing, Leporello distracts Masetto again and Don Giovanni lures Zerlina into another room. When she screams for help Giovanni accuses Leporello. But Elvira, Anna and Ottavio reveal themselves and confront him with their knowledge of his villainy. He makes his escape in the confusion.

Act II

Scene 1. A street near an inn

Don Giovanni soothes Leporello's indignation with money. He has his eyes on Donna Elvira's maid and changes clothes with Leporello so he will look like one of her class. Elvira appears at a window and laments her continuing love for Don Giovanni. He answers from the shadows that he still loves her, while Leporello, dressed in his clothes, mimes in the street. Elvira comes down and Don Giovanni instructs the disguised Leporello to lead her away while he serenades the maid.

Masetto and his friends appear, armed and in search of Don Giovanni, who, pretending to be Leporello, sends the villagers off in different directions, then catches Masetto off guard and beats him. Zerlina finds Masetto and comforts him.

Scene 2. A courtyard near Donna Anna's house

Leporello has not managed to free himself from Donna Elvira, who still takes him for his master. Donna Anna, Don Ottavio, Zerlina and Masetto find them and accuse Leporello of Don Giovanni's crimes. Elvira tries in vain to intercede for her "husband" but Leporello reveals his identity, pleads innocence and succeeds in making a getaway. Don Ottavio's promises to avenge his beloved's wrongs.

Scene 3. A cemetery, where the Commendatore is buried

Don Giovanni and Leporello have escaped from their pursuers. Giovanni's narrative of a girl who took him for Leporello is interrupted by the voice of the statue of the Commendatore reproving him for his levity and libertinism. Undeterred, he orders the terrified Leporello to invite the Commendatore to dinner. The statue accepts.

Scene 4. A room in Donna Anna's house

Don Ottavio tries to calm Donna's Anna's grief by reminding her that they will soon be married, but she begs to him to delay their wedding.

Scene 5. A banquet hall in Don Giovanni's villa

Don Giovanni is interrupted at supper by Donna Elvira, who wants him to change his ways. He laughs at her and she leaves, but runs back screaming. Investigating, Leporello returns in terror: the statue has come. The Commendatore enters and, refusing to touch earthly food, invites Don Giovanni to dine with him. Don Giovanni accepts and is engulfed by the flames of hell, steadfastly refusing to repent.

The other characters sing an epilogue about how the wicked receive their just deserts.

[Synopsis source: Opera~Opera]

Click here for the complete libretto.