Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart

Don Giovanni

Apr. 25, 27m, 30, May 2, 4m, 2014 | Academy of Music
Opera at the Academy

All he wanted was everything.

Who was that masked man? As the legendary rake Don Juan leaves a trail of jilted lovers and mayhem in his wake, Mozart’s alternately mischievous and harrowing masterpiece of mistaken identity reveals the charmer’s darkest side. With an ingeniously playful staging of masquerades, trapdoors and mirrored panels, witness the genre’s most infamous scoundrel in this timeless classic of comedy and tragedy. A cadre of the most prestigious alumni of the Curtis Institute of Music and the Academy of Vocal Arts come home to star in this lavish production.



Academy of Music
240 S Broad Street, Philadelphia, PA 19102

Schedule Details:

Friday, April 25, 2014 at 8:00 pm
Sunday, April 27, 2014 at 2:30 pm
Wednesday, April 30, 2014 at 7:30 pm
Friday, May 2, 2014 at 8:00 pm
Sunday, May 4, 2014 at 2:30 pm

Estimated Running Time:

Approximately three hours including one 20-minute intermission


Performed in Italian with English supertitles



Elliot Madore
as Don Giovanni

Michelle Johnson
as Donna Anna

Amanda Majeski
as Donna Elvira


David Portillo
as Don Ottavio

Joseph Barron
as Leporello

Cecelia Hall*
as Zerlina


Wes Mason*
as Masetto

Nicholas Masters*
as Commendatore

Creative Team

*Opera Philadelphia Debut


Time: 1930s

Place: Europe

Act 1

Scene 1: Leporello bemoans his destiny as a servant to Don Giovanni (“Notte e giorno faticar” – “Night and day I slave away”). His master and Donna Anna emerge from the palace struggling, as Anna tries to identify the disguised person who attempted to seduce her in her bedroom (Trio: “Non sperar, se non m’uccidi, Ch’io ti lasci fuggir mai!” – “Do not hope, unless you kill me, that I shall ever let you run away!”). Her father, Commandant of Seville, alarmed by his daughter’s cries, challenges the attacker. Don Giovanni kills the old nobleman. Donna Anna returns with her fiancé, Don Ottavio, but they are too late to save her father.

Scene 2: Donna Elvira, abandoned lover and would-be wife, arrives by train in search of the Don. Don Giovanni, who is on an amorous adventure at the train station, unwittingly approaches Elvira. He escapes, leaving Leporello to show Elvira to the Don’s “not-so-little black book” of conquests. (“Madamina, il catalogo è questo” – “My dear lady, this is the catalogue”)

A group of peasants arrive in a park for a pre-wedding celebration for Zerlina and Masetto. Giovanni immediately tries to charm the young bride, much to the chagrin of her fiancé, who dares to stand up for his rights (“Ho capito! Signor, sì” – “I understand! Yes, my lord!”). In vain, he is taken off by Leporello, leaving the Don to attempt further seduction (Duet: “Là ci darem la mano” – “There we will entwine our hands”). Elvira enters and warns the girl against the intentions of the traitor (“Ah, fuggi il traditor” – “Flee from the traitor!”). As the women leave, Anna and Ottavio arrive to ask Giovanni for help in finding her father’s assassin. Elvira interrupts and begs the two nobles not to trust Giovanni, who in turn, indicates that Elvira has lost her mind (Quartet: “Non ti fidar, o misera” – “Don’t trust him, oh sad one”). He then takes leave of the two, and Anna suddenly realizes that Giovanni is the man who attacked her. (Anna aria: “Or sai chi l’onore Rapire a me volse” – “Now you know who is the one having trying to rob me of my honour”). She asks Ottavio to avenge her father.

Scene 3: Before the party that he promised the peasants, we find Don Giovanni singing of his happy pursuit of love (“Champagne Aria”: “Fin ch’han dal vino calda la testa” – “Till they are tipsy”). Zerlina begs Masetto’s forgiveness for her behavior and assures him that she did not fall for the advances of the Don (“Batti, batti o bel Masetto” – “Beat o beat me, handsome Masetto”). However, when the Don appears, the jealousies of the bridegroom flare up again. Dance music is heard in the distance and Anna, Elvira, and Ottavio, who are masked, are invited to the party. They swear to punish the libertine (Trio: “Proteggra il giusto cielo” – “May the just heavens protect us”).

Scene 4: At the party, Giovanni takes advantage of the busy crowd to lead Zerlina into his private quarters. When she calls out for help, the three masked guests reveal their identities to the Don and Don Ottavio threatens Giovanni with a pistol. Giovanni escapes the wrath of his guests.

Act II

Scene 1: As Don Giovanni wants to attract the attention of Elvira’s maid, he exchanges cloaks and hats with Leporello and sings first to Elvira, while his servant is miming the words. As Elvira leaves with the disguised Leporello, Giovanni serenades the servant girl (“Deh vieni alla finestra” – “Ah, come to the window”). Masetto and a band of angry peasants, who are after the Don, are sent by Giovanni (in his Leporello disguise) in the wrong direction. He assalts Masetto. Zerlina consoles her groom with tender care “Vedrai carino” – “You’ll see, dear one”). Elvira is still furious at Giovanni for betraying her, but she also feels sorry for him. (“Mi tradì quell’alma ingrata” – “That ungrateful wretch betrayed me”).

Scene 2: Leporello, still in disguise, tries to flee from Elvira, but instead is met by Anna, Ottavio, Zerlina and Masetto, who all want their revenge. The servant finally unmasks, begs for forgiveness and flees the scene.

Scene 3: Don Giovanni and Leporello exchange their recent experiences and thereby mock the deceived women. As they are leaving the graveyard, they hear a voice and recognize the tomb of the slain Commandant. Don Giovanni insists that Leporello read the inscription on the tomb. “I wait to avenge my wrongful death.” Giovanni forces the petrified servant to invite the statue to dinner. Shaken, the two perceive a positive response to the invitation.

Scene 4: In her home, Anna, still in mourning, puts off Ottavio’s offer of marriage until her father is avenged (“Non mi dir” – “Tell me not”).

Scene 5: Don Giovanni is still leading a life of debauchery, interrupted only briefly by Elvira, who makes a final, desperate attempt to save the Don (“L’ultima prova dell’amor mio” – “The final proof of my love”). The Don becomes a victim of the demons of guilt that he has, until now, fended off through a dissolute life. In his alcoholic stupor, he perceives the avenging voice of the Commandant and is carried off to his own Hell.

Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart (1756-1791)


Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart was born on January 27, 1756 in Salzburg, Austria to Leopold Mozart and his wife, Anna Maria.  Leopold was a successful composer and violinist and served as assistant concertmaster at the Salzburg court.  Mozart and his older sister, Maria Anna, were the only two of the family’s seven children to survive infancy.  Both children showed great musical potential and Leopold began instructing them at a very early age.  His benefactor, the archbishop of the Salzburg court, Sigismung von Schrattenbach, was also very supportive of the Mozart children’s remarkable talents.

At the age of three Mozart was able to pick out tunes on the piano and by the time he was five he was composing minuets.  Both Mozart and his sister played the harpsichord exceedingly well and Mozart also mastered the violin.  Leopold was eager to exhibit both of his children’s musical abilities so, when his son was seven, he left his position at the Salzburg court to take his family on a concert tour of Western Europe.  Mozart and his sister performed in the major musical centers of Europe, including Mannheim, Mainz, Frankfurt, Brussels, Paris, London, and Amsterdam.  During this time, Mozart continued to compose, completing his first symphony at the age of nine and publishing his first sonatas that same year.  The family returned to Salzburg in 1766 but, after spending less than a year there, they left again for Vienna, where Mozart completed his first opera, La Finta Semplice, in 1768, when he was just 12 years old.  Shortly after, Mozart was appointed honorary Konzertmeister at the Salzburg court.

Mozart and his father traveled to Italy in 1769, where he toured for more than a year in Rome, Milan, Florence, Naples, and Bologna.  While in Italy, Mozart completed another opera, Mitridate, re di Ponto and also received a papal audience, during which the Pope conferred knighthood as a tribute to the boy’s genius.  In the next few years Mozart would make two more trips to Italy and complete two more operas, Alba in 1771 and Lucio Silla in 1772, as well as eight symphonies, four divertimentos, and several other works.

In 1771, Archbishop von Schrattenbach, who had been a great supporter of Mozart since his childhood, died and was succeeded by Hieronymus von Colloredo.  Although Mozart did not get along well with his new patron, he remained in his position in Salzburg for many more years.  In 1777 Mozart obtained leave from Salzburg and set out on tour with his mother, in hopes of securing a better position.  They traveled through Munich, Augsburg, and Mannheim, but Mozart was unsuccessful in finding a post.  The next year they continued to Paris, where Mozart composed the Paris Symphony.  While they were there, Mozart’s mother became ill and soon after the symphony’s premiere, she died.

Mozart returned to Salzburg and was given the post of court organist and Konzertmeister.  He produced numerous works during this period, including the Coronation Mass in 1779.  In 1780, he was commissioned to compose an Italian opera for Munich.  Idomeneo, re di Creta was completed the next year and became his first great operatic success.  Soon after, Archbishop Colloredo summoned Mozart back to Vienna, where the Salzburg court was in residence on the accession of a new emperor.  Fresh from the success of Idomeneo, Mozart was exacerbated to find himself back in the service of the court.  This, combined with his growing resentment of his employer, soon led to conflict and in 1781 he left his post.

Mozart remained in Vienna and in 1782 married Constanze Weber.  The couple had six children but only two of them survived.  That same year, he completed the opera Die Entführung aus dem Serail, which was an immediate success.  Also in 1782, Mozart was appointed to the position of chamber composer for Emperor Joseph II, a post that he held until 1787.  These years were very productive for Mozart, during which he met Italian librettist, Lorenzo da Ponte.  Their partnership produced three of the most popular and best loved operas of Mozart’s career, the first of which, Le Nozze di Figaro, premiered in Vienna in 1786.  Don Giovanni and Così fan tutte followed soon after in 1787 and 1790.

Despite these successes, Mozart and his wife lived well beyond their means and were in continual debt.  In 1787, Mozart was appointed to the post of Kammermusicus, although the salary did little to lessen the couple’s financial hardships.  In 1791, Mozart was commissioned to compose a score to Emanual Schikaneder’s Die Zauberflöte, which was inspired by the group they were both members of, the Free Masons.  The opera premiered in Vienna to large success.  Also in 1791 was the premiere of La Clemenza di Tito, which would be the last of the 20 operas Mozart wrote in his lifetime.  During this time of financial strain, Mozart also composed his last three symphonies: E flat, G minor, and the Jupiter in C.

In 1791, Mozart was commissioned to write a requiem, but he would never finish the piece.  He became quite ill, although he had never known very good health, and he died on December 5, 1791 at the age of 35.  His death, which gave rise to false rumors of poisoning, is thought to have resulted from rheumatic fever, a disease which he had suffered from repeatedly throughout his life.  Despite his unquestionable reputation as the greatest musical mind of his time, Mozart was buried with little ceremony in an unmarked grave in Vienna, as was legally required for all those without noble or aristocratic birth.


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