Performed in the original Italian with Czech subtitles.
Premiere on 17th May 2013, Janáček Theatre
The immoral character Don Giovanni, who rebels against human and divine order, seduces women and commits wicked deeds, has been used by many writers and composers such as Tirso de Molina, Molière, and Goldoni, however it was Mozart’s opera that ensured his immortality. The work, which is often referred to as the “opera of operas”, marked the climax of Mozart’s operatic style of the time and it became the basis for a new dramatic school. Mozart and Da Ponte succeeded in combining grotesque elements with sheer tragedy, falling under the category of a ‘dramma giocoso’ (comic drama). The score is full of passionate arias with masterfully elaborate dramatic recitatives and precise ensemble components. The credit for producing this exceptional work goes to Prague. Following the huge success of the reprise of Mozart’s The Marriage of Figaro in the city, he was commissioned to write a new opera, and as a result, Don Giovanni had its world premiere, conducted by the composer himself, at the Count Nostitz Theatre (today known as the Estates Theatre) in Prague in 1787.
Janáček Opera Ensemble and Orchestra of the National Theatre Brno
Leporello awaits his master, Don Giovanni, and complains about his wearisome tasks. Suddenly he is disturbed by a loud noise. Donna Anna, the Commendatore‘s daughter, discovers that it is not her fiancé who is in her rooms, but an unknown intruder. She attempts to delay him in order to discover his identity. Don Giovanni, however, hides his face. Anna’s father then enters the room and challenges Don
Giovanni to a duel. During a short gunfight the Commendatore is fatally injured and falls to the ground, dead. Don Giovanni and Leporello flee the scene. Donna Anna and her fiancé Don Ottavio find the dead Commendatore. Anna beseeches Ottavio to avenge her father’s death.
Leporello reproaches Don Giovanni for his lifestyle, but he has already been attracted by the beauty of another woman. Donna Elvira enters – she is looking for the man who had seduced and then abandoned her. Don Giovanni begins to flirt with her, not knowing who she is. After a short time he recognises the woman to whom he had promised his love and fidelity. He diverts her attention to Leporello
and flees. Leporello presents to Don Giovanni a list of all the women that he had seduced and abandoned that he had drawn up himself.
Zerlina and Masetto are celebrating their marriage. Suddenly Don Giovanni and Leporello arrive, after having rid themselves of Donna Elvira. Don Giovanni introduces himself to the bride and groom and invites himself to the celebration, seeking to oust Masetto in oder to seduce his bride. Masetto understands that he cannot resist the nobleman, and he therefore threatens Zerlina and leaves together with his friends. Don Giovanni seduces Zerlina, but Donna Elvira appears during their romantic tête-à-tête in order to warn Zerlina and lead her away. Donna Anna and Don Ottavio ask Don Giovanni for his help in finding the
Commendatore‘s murderer. Donna Elvira returns, suddenly, and warns everybody against Don Giovanni’s perfidiousness. He brands her a lunatic and takes her away. Donna Anna however recognises in Don Giovanni the wanted murderer. She tells her fiancé of the incident that had occurred that night and once more beseeches him to seek vengeance.
Leporello tells his master how he had led Masetto and the villagers to the wedding celebration and how he had got rid of Donna Elvira. Don Giovanni rejoices and gives instructions about the celebration.
After a short argument Zerlina attempts to reconcile Masetto. However, when they hear Don Giovanni‘s voice and she tries to hide, Masetto is enraged once more. Don Giovanni invites everybody to his celebration, finds Zerlina and Masetto and brings them with him. Donna Elvira, Donna Anna and Don Ottavio also come in masks. Don Giovanni treats everybody. When the dances begin and Leporello
holds Masetto back, Don Giovanni drags Zerlina away. She calls for help and Don Giovanni blames Leporello in front of everyone gathered. Nobody believes him, though.
Leporello wants to leave the service of Don Giovanni. When Giovanni gives him money, though, he says that this time he would stay. Don Giovanni tells him his plan as to how he would seduce Donna Elvira’s lady-in-waiting, and that he would need Leporello’s clothes. Donna Elvira enters and bemoans her misfortunes in love. Don Giovanni and Leporello perform a slapstick comedy about Giovanni’s undying
love for her. Donna Elvira brings Leporello, wearing Giovanni’s clothing, home with her. Don Giovanni, standing under the window and in disguise, serenades Elvira’s lady-in-waiting. His plans are disturbed by Masetto who is searching for him together with his armed gang. Giovanni, disguised as Leporello, sends the villagers in all directions, takes Masetto’s club, beats him and flees. Zerlina arrives and finds her beaten husband. She ascertains his injuries and gently tends them.
Elsewhere Leporello (still disguised as Don Giovanni) tries to escape from Donna Elvira. As soon as he has almost managed to do this, Donna Anna, Don Ottavio, Zerlina and Masetto arrive and they intercept the fleeing Leporello. They all believe that he is the wanted man and seek revenge. Donna Elvira protects her supposed husband. Suddenly to everyone’s surprise Leporello reveals his true identity. When they all threatened Leporello with punishment, he begs for forgiveness, because it had all been the work of his master. After much subterfuge he runs away. Don Ottavio instructs the others to calm Donna Anna and promises revenge. ¨
Don Giovanni and Leporello meet at the Commendatore‘s statue. They are torn away from their conversation about Don Giovanni’s experience by a secret voice. Komturo’s voice foresees Don Giovanni’s fate. In his conceitedness he just sneers and orders the trembling Leporello to invite Leporello to supper. He accepts the invitation.
In exchange for the loss of her father, Don Ottavio offers Donna Anna his heart and asks for her hand in marriage. Although he loves Donna Anna, she is too griefstricken to even consider marriage. Ottavio promises to be faithful to her.
Don Giovanni dines with a musical accompaniment, and Leporello waits upon him. The worried Donna Elvira arrives and encourages Don Giovanni to change his lifestyle. Giovanni responds with a toast to women and good wine. After Elvira has left, the statue of the Commendatore statue knocks at the door. Don Giovanni opens it. The Commendatore exhorts Don Giovanni to be penitent and to change
his life. Don Giovanni obstinately refuses and is engulfed by the flames of hell. The others arrive and in vain seek Don Giovanni, but Leporello tells them of the terrible incident. Anna and Ottavio prepare their wedding, Elvira goes into seclusion, Leporello goes to the inn to find a new master and Zerlina goes to take supper with Masetto. They each go their own ways singing: This how all evildoers meet their end! Who lives a terrible life will come to a terrible end.