What is Don Giovanni?

Don Giovanni is a two-act dramma giocoso Austrian composer Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart, which combines serious dramatic action with joy. Other operas the composer include The Magic Flute, Cos fan tutte, and The Marriage of Figaro, as well as numerous symphonies and other works. Lorenzo Da Ponte, who also wrote the librettos for The Marriage of Figaro and Cos fan tutte, wrote the libretto for Don Giovanni in 1787.

Mozart’s version, one of 30 or more operas centered on Don Juan, may have been written to improve another one-act version. Da Ponte improvised and drew inspiration from Molière’s play Dom Juan, as well as other dramatic works. The premiere of Mozart’s opera took place in Prague in October 1787.

The story is set in Seville in the seventeenth century. Don Giovanni is masked and inside the home of the Commendatore, Don Pedro, either having or about to seduce his daughter, Donna Anna. Leporello, his servant, is stationed outside to keep an eye on things. Regardless, Don Pedro reappears and confronts the protagonist. Don Pedro is killed in the fight. Donna Anna and her fiancé, Don Ottavio, discover the body and mourn Don Pedro, while Don Giovanni and Leporello flee.

On their way, Don Giovanni and Leporello come across a woman named Donna Elvira who is upset about her lover’s abandonment. Don Giovanni decides to console her until he recognizes her and realizes that he is the one who is causing her distress. Leporello keeps her attention while he slips away.

Don Giovanni’s next move is to try to seduce Zerlina, the bride, at a nearvillage wedding. When Donna Elvira arrives and warns the bride, telling her who she is dealing with, he has gotten the bridegroom, Masetto, out of the way and is in the process of charming the bride. Although Donna Elvira warns them not to trust him, Donna Anna and Don Ottavio enter and greet the title character as a friend. When he sings for a long time, Donna Anna recognizes him as the seducer from the previous evening and tells Don Ottavio about him.

He then plans a party to which he will invite the villagers in order to expand his conquests and then departs. Masetto reappears, and Zerlina reclaims him. Don Giovanni reappears and extends an invitation. The masked Donna Anna, Donna Elvira, and Don Ottavio intend to attend the party and use the opportunity to trap Don Giovanni.

Don Giovanni drags Zerlina out of the party after dancing with her. Masetto follows her screams, but Don Giovanni blames Leporello and threatens to kill him. The masked trio confronts him and takes off their masks, but he fights back.

In Act II, Leporello offers to resign, but Don Giovanni refuses and instead gives him a purse, so they move on to the next conquest. Donna Elvira stands on her balcony, torn between her feelings for Don Giovanni and her desire to be with him. He returns her favor singing to her from below, but when she returns, she sends him off with Leporello, with whom he has switched capes, to seduce her maid. Masetto and other villagers interrupt him. As Leporello, he instructs them on how to locate their prey and then beats Masetto; Zerlina arrives to console him.

Leporello arrives in Donna Anna’s courtyard and attempts to flee Donna Elvira, but is blocked on one side Donna Anna and Don Ottavio, and on the other Zerlina and Masetto. He manages to flee after being forced to identify himself. When Don Giovanni meets up with him again, this time in a cemetery, he is subjected to a story about the seduction of his own girlfriend, when they are abruptly interrupted Don Pedro, who speaks to them through a statue with the inscription “I await revenge on the one who slew me.” Don Giovanni invites the statue to dinner, and it accepts with a nod. Leporello is terrified.

Don Giovanni returns home to eat and begins his meal before his visitor arrives. Donna Elvira enters, pleading with him to change. She walks away, but Leporello hears screams from outside and goes to investigate. He returns, talking about a stone man.

A knock is answered Don Giovanni, and the statue enters. Don Giovanni accepts the invitation to dine with the statue, but when he takes the statue’s hand, he is engulfed in flames. In a year, Don Ottavio and Donna Anna plan to marry, Zerlina and Masetto will marry right away, Donna Elvira will enter a convent, and Leporello will look for a new master.