Don Giovanni, Opera by W. A. Mozart
We have become so familiar with the music of Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart that we can, perhaps, be forgiven for forgetting what a prodigious talent he was. The word genius is possibly bandied about too often these days but, if there is such a thing in music, Mozart was it.
The sheer scale of his output can sometimes obscure the fact that Mozart was also one of music’s great innovators. And there is no better piece with which to prove this assertion than Don Giovanni.
From inception to conception, Don Giovanni, in keeping with the spirit of the times in which it was composed, was a revolutionary work. Audiences in Prague had warmed to Mozart to such a degree following the performance of his earlier opera, The Marriage of Figaro, that Don Giovanni was the result of a direct commission from an impresario and theatre rather than a work that was dependent upon the financial support of a patron.
Don Giovanni sees Mozart at his very best: a Mozart who has taken the brakes off to create a piece of great dramatic theatre. It is difficult not to imagine a quasi-political albeit probably unconscious subtext on Mozart's part to this wonderful opera; its central character is clearly a perfidious scoundrel but also a man who fascinates at one and the same time, and for whom perhaps we almost have a guilty sense of admiration as he rails against his fate, and all those who would have him behave otherwise, in the final infernal scene.
First performed in Prague at the National Theatre on 29 October 1787, with Mozart himself conducting, The Vienna State Opera is the venue for this presentation of one of the most compelling works in the repertoire.