The Dark Side of Charm

Did you ever want the bad boy to pay for his misdeeds? Pittsburgh Opera opens its 2019-2020 season with Mozart’s Don Giovanni. The title character has a bad reputation. In the first act he seduces a noblewoman, kills her father, runs into one of his many ex-girlfriends and attempts to seduce another man’s fiancée! Despite all this, he is quite charming and sings in a warm baritone voice. Don’t worry though – the other characters have a plan and a certain dinner guest has one, too.

Don Giovanni is the second of three collaborations between Mozart and Lorenzo Da Ponte, a creative team that many scholars consider to be one of the best in opera history. The clever words of Da Ponte paired with the glorious vocal writing of Mozart is truly a winning combination. This Pittsburgh Opera production places the action in a film noir setting complete with black and white costumes to create a classic movie vibe.

Explore more about Don Giovanni through the CD, DVD and book recommendations on this list. Maybe I will see you at the opera!

Don Giovanni

Ruggero Raimondi plays the Don and José van Dam is his servant, Leporello, in this lush film version by Joseph Losey.

Don Giovanni

Peter Sellar’s modern stage version moves the plot to the South Bronx. Twin brothers Eugene and Herbert Perry play Don Giovanni and Leporello.

Don Giovanni

Riccardo Muti conducts this La Scala production with Thomas Allen in the title role.

Don Giovanni

René Jacobs leads an international cast in a recording of the 1788 Vienna version of Mozart’s score.

Mozart and His Operas

Cairns’ unique biography traces Mozart’s life and creative output through his operas. Cairns discusses how Mozart matures as an artist with each opera and writes about how his strength as a composer of great theater influences his instrumental works as well, particularly his piano concertos and string quartets. The chapter that highlights Don Giovanni finds Mozart enjoying his success after the premiere of The Marriage of Figaro. A trip to Prague results in a commission, which becomes Don Giovanni. The commission is for a comedy but instead the company receives a work rich in comedy and drama.

The Don Giovanni Moment: Essays on the Legacy of an Opera

This collection of essays treats Don Giovanni as an artistic work that had great impact on nineteenth century philosophers, playwrights and composers from Goethe to Pushkin to Wagner. The various authors discuss how themes of romanticism in nineteenth century art were influenced by the characters and relationships that Mozart and da Ponte created in the previous century. A thought-provoking read.

Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart : A Biography

Written during the 250th anniversary year of Mozart’s death, Melograni’s biography is a wonderful addition to the many volumes written about the composer. Avoiding in-depth musical analyses, Melograni instead weaves the texts of Mozart’s letters throughout his narrative to create a thoroughly enjoyable account of the artist’s life. A great read for the music lover or novice.

W.A. Mozart: Don Giovanni

Rushton’s work is part of the Cambridge Opera Handbooks series, an invaluable set of works for the opera fan and scholar. A synopsis of the opera and analyses of the libretto and musical themes are presented, but the other essays are quite intriguing and include discussions about the Don Juan character in literature before and after Mozart’s opera and Don Giovanni as a philosophical idea.