Don Giovanni 1787

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Information about Don Giovanni 1787

Published on March 21, 2008

Author: BeatRoot


Don Giovanni 1787:  Don Giovanni 1787 A comic opera (opera buffa) in 2 acts. Commissioned by the Pasquale Boldini’s Prague Opera company after the success in Prague of Marriage of Figaro. Planned as entertainment for visit of newlywed niece of Emperor – the archduchess Maria Theresia and Prince Anton Clemens of Saxony – 14 October 1787. Mozart home to Vienna from Prague February 8 1787 to start work. His father died 28 May and was buried that day. Also his pet starling died. Mozart did not travel to Salzburg to oversee arrangements. Libretto:  Libretto By Court poet – Lorenzo Da Ponte (like Cosi and Figaro) Based on a very well known existing story. Going back to El burlador (before 1630) it had been used and adapted for a variety of purposes – commedia dell’arte in particular – Goldoni’s Don Giovanni Tenorio 1736. Don Giovanni has obvious parralels with Mr Punch. Don Juan is a stock character. Il convitato di pietra (1762) with libretto by Giovanni Bertati and music by Giuseppe Gazzaniga – a success all over Europe. This was the starting point for Da Ponte. Da Ponte and Mozart worked closely together on the opera right up to the performance. Rehearsals:  Rehearsals Mozart arrived in Prague 4 Oct 1787 with only 5 days before the premiere. Da Ponte arrived and was resident across the road. The performance had to be postponed as it was under-rehearsed and then one singer was ill. The Prague company was small and singers not easily replaced. The work was considered very difficult. The Cast:  The Cast As always the singers determined the nature of the music – Mozart had to write to their capabilities. He knew them all except one as he had conducted them in Figaro. Don Giovanni – Luigi Bassi had been Count Almaviva – a fiery Italian `very handsome and very stupid’ – 22 years old an excellent mimic and a very good actor. The cast requires 3 females (all sopranos), 5 males (3 basses, baritone and tenor), plus chorus. This small cast reflects the Prague company exactly. First Performance:  First Performance 29 October 1787 beginning at 7pm and planned to end at 9.30. Mozart had composed the overture the night before it was to be rehearsed. Mozart greeted with great cheers on entering pit to conduct at the keyboard. A great success and a long run of performances. Mozart remained in Prague until 13th November. Boldini wanted Mozart to stay and write another but Mozart had to make it back in Vienna. Prague was always a great supporter of Mozart and Mozart remained very fond of the city to the end. Vienna:  Vienna The success of Don Giovanni became known in Vienna and helped Mozart get Gluck’s job as Kammermusikus to the Emperor. Command for Vienna performance by Emperor – 7th May 1788 in Burgtheater. Joseph II already busy on battlefield of second Turkish War. Some alterations to arias and scenes to accommodate Viennese taste and singers available. Mozart conducted first three performances. Only gradually did Vienna warm to the work. Vienna and Prague versions exist – the Prague is generally preferred. Characters - Male:  Characters - Male Don Giovanni – a cavalier and seducer of women. An ambivalent role that can be played a number of ways. Needs a great voice. Leporello – servant of Don – his assistant in crime who unlike Don has some reservations about their activities. Don Ottavio – fiance of Donna Anna. Masetto – country peasant lover of Zerlina Commendatore – elderly knight and man of honour. Characters Female:  Characters Female Donna Anna – daughter of Commendatore and betrothed to Ottavio. Donna Elvira a highborn lady from Burgos – used and abandoned by Don. Zerlino – a country girl who Don attempts to seduce. Terror and Effects. :  Terror and Effects. Don Giovanni is notable for the introduction of terror into opera. Naked fear. To do this he uses Trombones – always associated with the underworld. They do not appear until Commendatore statue appears on stage to condemn Don Giovanni. At the end of Act I three orchestras play simultaneously on stage. First band plays Minuet in G in ¾ for oboes, horns and strings; then orchestra II turn up and play Contradanse in G in 2/4 time; orchestra three tune up and play German Dance in 3/8. Keys :  Keys As always the opera is carefully constructed in terms of key relationships. D is the opera key – minor at first (overture and statue scene at end). Overture and opera end in D major. Second Act leads from G major to A major, D major, F major, E flat (sextet – forgiveness by Elvira of Don who is Leporello in disguise at that moment). Then to D major for trumpets and drums. Then to D minor punishment key for murder. Back to D major then D minor for end of sextet in E flat. Liberty:  Liberty Act I scene 20 Don’s grant reception in the Hall. After introductory scene with Don, Leporello, Masetto and Zerlina – key changes to C major for entry of Don Ottavio, Donna Anna and Donna Elvira (all masked). After greeting all Don sings `E aperto tutti, a tutti quanti, viva, viva la liberta’ (it is open to everyone, long live liberty). Every one seizes the phrase and it turns into triumphal march with trumpets and drums IS this Da Ponte’s personal tribute to Joseph II and his ideas on personal freedom and enlightenment.

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