Our OTF full opera feature for this month is Mozart's Don Giovanni.

According to the Encyclopedia Britannica, Don Juan is a fictitious character who is a symbol of libertinism. Originating in popular legend, he was first given literary personality in the tragic drama El burlador de Sevilla (1630; “The Seducer of Seville,” translated in The Trickster of Seville and the Stone Guest), attributed to the Spanish dramatist Tirso de Molina. Through Tirso’s tragedy, Don Juan became a universal character, as familiar as Don Quixote, Hamlet, and Faust.

The legend of Don Juan tells how, at the height of his licentious career, he seduced a girl of noble family and killed her father, who had tried to avenge her. Later, seeing a commemorative effigy on the father’s tomb, he flippantly invited it to dine with him, and the stone ghost duly arrived for dinner as a harbinger of Don Juan’s death. In the end he refuses to repent and is eternally damned.

(In their opera, Mozart and Da Ponte do not dispatch the father, but the statue of an old nobleman does visit Don Giovanni in the climactic ending…)

In the 17th century the Don Juan story became known to strolling Italian players, some of whom traveled to France with this theme in their repertoire of pantomime, and by the 19th century many foreign versions of the Don Juan legend existed. Along with Mozart’s opera, other famous non-Spanish versions are Molière’s play Dom Juan, ou le festin de pierre (first performed 1665; “Don Juan, or, The Stone Feast”), based on earlier French arrangements; and two works dealing with a similar but different Don Juan, Prosper Mérimée’s uncharacteristic short story “Les Âmes du Purgatoire” (1834; “Souls in Purgatory”) and the drama Don Juan de Marana (1836) by Alexandre Dumas père. Early English versions include Lord Byron’s long satiric poem Don Juan (1819–24) and in George Bernard Shaw’s drama Man and Superman (1903). Later Spanish versions retain Don Juan’s likable qualities and avoid the calculated cynicism of certain foreign versions.

The highly popular Don Juan Tenorio (1844) of José Zorrilla y Moral, still traditionally performed in Spain on the eve of All Soul’s Day (Halloween), borrowed lavishly from French sources. Zorrilla’s play is said to sentimentalize the legend by furnishing a pious heroine and a serious love interest and by procuring Don Juan’s repentance and salvation.

The city of Prague was known for having staged operas based on the Don Juan legend; the first eighteenth-century Don Juan opera produced in Europe was La pravità castigata (Prague, 1730), and the second one was Vincenzo Righini’s Il convitato di pietra (Prague, 1776). Some believe that Mozart chose Don Juan as the subject of this enduring work precisely because it had been commissioned by the Teatro di Praga. 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.


Franz Welser-Möst has led annual opera performances during his ongoing (13-year) tenure in Cleveland, re-establishing the Orchestra as an important operatic ensemble. Following six seasons of opera-in-concert presentations, he brought fully staged opera back to Severance Hall with a three-season cycle of Zurich Opera productions of the Mozart-Da Ponte operas ('Le Nozze di Figaro,' 'Don Giovanni,' and 'Cosi fan tutte').This podcast provided by WCLV in Cleveland, and features spoken introductions by Cleveland Orchestra radio hosrt Robert Conrad.
Baritone Simon Keenlyside sings the title role in his first American performance of the part, and other cast members are Eva Mei as Donna Anna; Malin Hartelius as Donna Elvira; and Ruben Drole as Leporello.

More on this performance - http://www.simonkeenlyside.info/inde...-don-giovanni/)

Wolfgang Amadeus MOZART (1756-1791)
Il dissoluto punito, ossia il Don Giovanni, K. 527
opera in two acts, Italian libretto by Lorenzo Da Ponte


Don Giovanni: Simon Keenlyside
Leporello: Ruben Drole
Donna Anna: Eva Mei
Donna Elvira: Malin Hartelius
Ottavio: Shawn Mathey
Commendatore: Alfred Muff
Zerlina Martina Janková
Masetto: Reinhard Mayr

Cleveland Orchestra
Conductor: Franz Welser-Möst
Severence Hall, Cleveland, 27 March 2011

Synopsis - http://www.metopera.org/metopera/sea...s/don-giovanni
Libretto – http://www.naxos.com/education/opera...Title_Page.htm
Performance URL - https://archive.org/details/02Act1