Don Giovanni (complete title: Il dissoluto punito, ossia il Don Giovanni, literally The Rake Punished, or Don Giovanni) is an opera in two acts with music by Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart and with an Italian libretto by Lorenzo Da Ponte. It was premiered by the Prague Italian opera at the Teatro di Praga (now called the Estates Theatre) on October 29, 1787.Da Ponte’s libretto was billed like many of its time as dramma giocoso, a term that denotes a mixing of serious and comic action. Mozart entered the work into his catalogue as an “opera buffa”. Although sometimes classified as comic, it blends comedy, melodrama and supernatural elements. A staple of the standard operatic repertoire, Don Giovanni is seventh on the Operabase list of the most-performed operas worldwide.It has also proved a fruitful subject for writers and philosophers. It’s an opera in two acts that describes Don Giovanni, a young, arrogant, sexually promiscuous nobleman, who abuses and outrages everyone else in the cast, until he encounters something he cannot kill, beat up, dodge, or outwit.
Act I – It is the nighttime and Don Giovanni has stolen into Donna Anna’s rooms, while Leporello keeps guard outside cursing his own destiny as a servant. A cry is heard: Donna Anna has resisted her seducer and is running to get help for her father, the Commendatore, who has intervened with his sword drawn to protect his daughter. Don Giovanni kills him and escapes with Leporello, while Don Ottavio turns up to join his betrothed Donna Anna and swears to her that the seducer will be discovered and that his crime will be punished. On the road Don Giovanni is walking around in search of adventure. One of his past lovers, Donna Elvira, appears on the scene and is looking for him to remind him of the promises he has made to her. The cavalier avoids responding to her, and leaves her with Leporello who, to console her, recites to her the endless list of conquests of his master. When Donna Elvira leaves, Don Giovanni joins a cheerful brigade of farmers who are celebrating the wedding of Zerlina and Masetto. Immediately the seducer manages to keep Masetto at a distance while at the same time trapping the bride. However, Donna Elvira intervenes and tries to block the manoeuvre. Don Ottavio and Donna Anna arrive and the latter is able to recognize that Don Giovanni is her father’s killer by his voice. He is already far away at this stage but the young girl who is shocked, reveals all of the particulars of the nocturnal attempt of seduction to Don Ottavio, and she instigates him, once again, to carry out the revenge. In the meantime Leporello, carrying out his master’s orders, has organized a party in the palace, where Don Giovanni is preparing himself for other conquests. In Don Giovanni’s garden the farmers have already arrived while Zerlina is trying to calm Masetto down. Donna Elvira leads Anna and Ottavio, masked, towards Don Giovanni’s lair. In a room in the palace the dances begin and while the activities are in full swing Don Giovanni seeks to depart with Zerlina while Leporello detains Masetto; however, the girl begins to shout and Don Giovanni grabs Leporello and makes people believe that it is he who is the seducer, and once again the cavalier manages to save himself even if the plan to kidnap Zerlina has backfired.
Act II – On the street Don Giovanni exchanges his clothes with Leporello in order to dedicate himself with greater ease to seducing Donna Elvira’s maid; Donna Elvira appears at the window and Don Giovanni makes her believe that he is still in love with her. Donna Elvira comes out onto the street and mistakes Leporello for Don Giovanni, as he is wearing his clothes and Don Giovanni in this way is able to keep them at a distance in order to be able to continue his attempt to conquer the maid without being disturbed. He is surprised and interrupted by Masetto who is looking for him in order to kill him. The farmer doesn’t recognize him, however, in Leporello’s clothes and the crafty cavalier fools him, gives him a beating and escapes. Zerlina, who runs to help her fiancé, can only console him with a heart-easing melody. In the meantime Leporello and Donna Elvira have arrived at Donna Anna’s house and while Don Ottavio and Donna Anna arrive with lamps, Leporello tries to escape. He is, however, blocked by Zerlina and Masetto who are entering and would have been killed if he didn’t finally reveal that he was, in fact, wearing Don Giovanni’s clothes. There is a huge ensemble of consternation and Leporello is able to escape. Leporello joins his master in a secluded place, which he discovers is actually the cemetery where the statue of the Commendatore Don Giovanni killed is to be found. Don Giovanni, mocking the statue, forces Leporello to invite him to dinner and to his and Leporello’s astonishment the statue accepts the offer. Having already forgotten about the strange invitation in the cemetery, Don Giovanni is lightheartedly dining in his palace and is being served by Leporello, while a group of musicians raise the spirits of the evening. Donna Elvira bursts in, making a final appeal to Giovanni to reform. He laughs at her, invites her to join him but Elvira, recognizing that she will not change him, runs despairingly off. From outside she utters a piercing scream. Leporello investigates and returns in terror, babbling of a white stone man with earth-shaking strides. Knocking is heard at the door and Don Giovanni opens it. It is the Commendatore’s statue and he offers Giovanni the chance to repent but the cavalier refuses and he is dragged into the engulfing flames of hell. Leporello narrates the death of his master to all who have come to arrest the cavalier. A final chorus (“Questo è il fin di chi fa male”) rejoices the new refound serenity. See the full Festival Programme 2012 of Arena of Verona

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