Wednesday, October 29, 2008


While I was in Colorado, I was privileged to watch my young friend Rachel record an EP-CD and DVD for her college admission auditions to study opera. O'Bviously I'm prejudiced, but she's very talented and I am certain she'll find her niche in that world.

So today's Tiddlywinkydink is dedicated to her.....

October 29, 1787:
Mozart's opera Don Giovanni receives its first performance in Prague.

From the burgomeisters of Wikipedia:

Don Giovanni (K.527; complete title: Il dissoluto punito, ossia il Don Giovanni, literally "The Rake Punish'd, or Don Giovanni") is an opera in two acts with music by Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart and with Italian libretto by Lorenzo da Ponte. It was premiered in the Estates Theatre in Prague on October 29, 1787. Of the many operas based on the legend of Don Juan, "Don Giovanni" is thought to be beyond comparison. Da Ponte's libretto was billed like many of its time as dramma giocoso: "giocoso" meaning comic, and "dramma" signifying an operatic text (an abbreviation of "dramma per musica"). Mozart entered the work into his catalogue as an "opera buffa". Although often classified as comic, it is a unique blend of comic (buffa) and drama (seria). Subtitled "dramma giocoso", the opera blends comedy, melodrama and supernatural elements.

The Danish philosopher Søren Kierkegaard wrote a long essay in his book Enten/Eller (Either/Or) in which he argues, quoting Charles Gounod, that Mozart's "Don Giovanni" is “a work without blemish, of uninterrupted perfection.”

The basic plot is this:

Don Giovanni, a young nobleman, after a life of amorous conquests, meets defeat in three encounters. The first is with Donna Elvira, whom he has deserted but who still follows him. The second is with Donna Anna, who must postpone her marriage to Don Ottavio after Don Giovanni tries to rape her and kills her father, the Commendatore, while escaping afterwards. The third is with Zerlina, whom he vainly tries to lure from her fiancé, the peasant Masetto. All vow vengeance on Don Giovanni and his harassed servant Leporello. Elvira alone weakens in her resolution and attempts reconciliation in the hope that Giovanni will reform. Don Giovanni's destruction and deliverance to hell are effected by the cemetery statue of the Commendatore, who had accepted the libertine's invitation to supper.

As a staple of the standard operatic repertoire, it appears as number seven on Opera America's list of the 20 most-performed operas in North America.

By my count, there have been 17 performances of "Don Giovanni" on television since 1967. Among those who have played the title role for TV are Eugene Perry and Bryn Terfel (whom even I, an opera imbecile, have heard of). Thomas Allen and Samuel Ramey have each played it twice for TV productions. Renowned stage director Peter Sellars set his TV production of "Don Giovanni" in the streets; I think Giovanni's final descent into Hell was through a sewer manhole.
"Don Giovanni feels that you can live without rules or obligations,
but that doesn't work.
Hell is (Don Giovanni) being himself. "
Nicolette Molnar
Utah Opera

Toby O'B

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Hi Toby, Yes, Mozart's Don Giovanni is a perfect work. But all King Mozart's works are perfect.
Take care,