Washington National Opera Presents Don Giovanni at Kennedy Center Opera House
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The last date listed for Don Giovanni was Thursday October 25, 2007 / 7:00pm.
Widely regarded as the greatest opera ever composed, Don Giovanni tells the story of the famous womanizer who is given one last chance to repent of his philandering ways. But when he adds murder and blasphemy to his lengthy list of sins, human and supernatural forces combine to enact a terrible punishment and avenge Donna Anna, Donna Elvira and thousands of other women.
Composed by Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart
Libretto by Lorenzo da Ponte
A new production; sung in Italian with English supertitles
With the extraordinary success of Le Nozze di Figaro—which was performed in Prague on January 17, 1787—behind him, Mozart returned to Vienna to begin work on an opera for the National Theatre’s fall season. He contacted librettist Lorenzo da Ponte, with whom he had worked on Le nozze, and together they poured through the text of Giovanni Bertati (Don Juan Tenori). The premise of a seductive libertine was not new in theater literature: Spain had its popular comedy El Burlador de Sevilla by Tirso de Molina (1630), France had its literary model with Molière (1665), and Italy had its interpretation of Goldoni (1735). Nevertheless, da Ponte used as his main source of inspiration Bertati’s Don Giovanni Tenori, though he introduced modifications in the writing and characterizations. Mozart brought the opera to Prague on October 1, 1787, but, as was typical for this composer, he wanted to finish polishing the score after hearing the chosen singers. Particularly for this opera, Mozart wanted to make sure that each voice adapted to the complex characterizations. Although the opening of Don Giovanni was slated for October 14, in honor of the Arch Duchess Maria Teresa, it was 15 days later before it actually reached the stage. Even Giacomo Casanova, a friend of Mozart’s and da Ponte’s, was said to be in the audience for the successful premiere. Months later, in May 1788, Mozart introduced Don Giovanni to audiences in Vienna.