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date: 20 February 2020

Don Giovanni [Il dissoluto punito, ossia Il Don Giovanni (‘The Libertine Punished, or Don Giovanni’)](ii)locked

  • Julian Rushton

Extract

[Il dissoluto punito, ossia Il Don Giovanni (‘The Libertine Punished, or Don Giovanni’)]

Opera buffa in two acts, k527, by Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart to a libretto by Lorenzo Da Ponte; Prague, National Theatre, 29 October 1787.

The commission for Don Giovanni followed the triumphant production of Le nozze di Figaro in Prague (December 1786). The impresario Guardasoni probably asked Mozart to expand Bertati’s one-act Don Giovanni, set by Gazzaniga for Venice in February 1787. Da Ponte’s memoirs suppressed his indebtedness but he improved Bertati in every respect and drew on other sources, notably Molière’s Dom Juan and versions from popular theatre. About half the libretto, between the Act 1 quartet and the graveyard scene, is original.

Mozart began work during the summer, leaving for Prague on 1 October. This season in the Bohemian capital has the flavour of legend; but there is no reason to suppose that Mozart’s compositional processes were abnormal, even in the late composition of the overture (on the eve of the performance, already twice postponed, or of the final rehearsal). He may have had to resist Bassi’s demand for a big aria, and possibly did not know Baglioni when he composed ‘Il mio tesoro’....

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