Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart

Don Giovanni

22 May – 15 July 2011
Glyndebourne Festival 2011

4 stars Financial Times, The Independent, The Daily Express

"Under Robin Ticciati, the Orchestra of the Age of Enlightenment re-establishes Glyndebourne as the place to hear Mozart." Financial Times

"Lucas Meachem captures the manic obsession of Giovanni’s ruthless search for sexual thrills..." - Guardian

"Albina Shagimuratova sings the bereaved Donna Anna with a pure-toned expressiveness that Toby Spence’s Don Ottavio matches gracefully and Miah Persson’s incarnation of the emotionally-deranged Donna Elvira is subtly characterised and exquisitely sung. This vengeful trio sing together majestically." Independent

"Great cast, great music, great production."Daily Express

"Lucas Meachem’s Giovanni is both dangerous and alluring, with daredevil charm matched by vocal noblesse." - Financial Times

About the opera

Compulsive philandering is one thing, but brutal rape and murder are quite another. As an unrepentant Don Juan continues to elude his earthly pursuers, other-worldly powers are forced to intervene, leading to a fire-and-brimstone climax that ranks among Mozart's most earth-shattering achievements.

Set at a time of seismic social and cultural change - in a Fellini-esque vision of post-war life - Jonathan Kent's urgently propulsive production offers a 'white-knuckle rollercoaster ride' through the events of the Don's last day as they unfold in and around Paul Brown's magical 'box of tricks' set.

Robin Ticciati, former Music Director of Glyndebourne on Tour and now Principal Conductor of the Scottish Chamber Orchestra, returns to conduct the period instruments of the Orchestra of the Age of Enlightenment.

American baritone Lucas Meachem makes his Festival debut in the charismatic title role, with Russian coloratura soprano Albina Shagimuratova also making her Festival debut as the avenging Donna Anna.  Miah Persson and Matthew Rose return as Giovanni's cast-off lover Elvira and his much abused servant Leporello, while Don Ottavio, Anna's protector, is sung by British tenor Toby Spence.

A revival of the 2010 Festival production.
Sung in Italian with English supertitles.

This revival is generously supported by:
John and Louise Dear
The late Elaine C Denby
An anonymous supporter
And a generous donation from Glyndebourne Association America Inc.

Listen to the Don Giovanni podcast:

Setting: A city in Spain

Act I

Leporello, Don Giovanni’s servant, paces up and down outside Donna Anna’s house while his masked master is inside, attempting to rape her. She fights him off and the two enter, Anna retiring inside after her cries for help have brought her father, the Commendatore, to her aid. He challenges Giovanni to a duel in which he is killed. Giovanni and Leporello make off.

Anna returns with her betrothed, Don Ottavio, and faints on seeing her father’s body. Reviving but still in shock, she makes Ottavio join her in an oath of vengeance against the unknown perpetrator. 

In a street the following morning, Giovanni and Leporello are arguing about the nobleman’s lifestyle when the former scents a woman, who turns out to be Donna Elvira, come from Burgos to seek Giovanni, who promised her marriage. Giovanni slopes off, leaving Leporello to show Elvira his notorious catalogue of the seducer’s conquests; she, too, vows revenge.

Near Giovanni’s house, peasants are celebrating the imminent wedding of Masetto and Zerlina. Giovanni turns up with Leporello and decides to seduce Zerlina; Masetto (unwillingly) and the others are sent off to admire his palace. Left alone with Zerlina, Giovanni offers to marry her himself. As soon as she agrees, Elvira shows up, warns Zerlina about Giovanni, and leads her away.

Giovanni’s friends Anna and Ottavio now arrive, asking for his support in their revenge upon the unknown assailant. As he is agreeing, Elvira returns, throwing everything into confusion with her accusations; Giovanni tries to pass her off as a mad woman, but her bearing convinces them otherwise. Eventually she leaves and Giovanni follows her. Anna realizes that Giovanni is the villain they seek. She renews her vow of vengeance and Ottavio affirms his unquestioning loyalty to her.

Returning to the scene, Leporello warns Giovanni that Elvira has been making further trouble at his house. Giovanni is more concerned about organizing a party, at which he hopes to add ten more conquests to his list.

Inside Giovanni’s home, Zerlina defuses Masetto’s anger; he then hides as Giovanni is heard offstage. Giovanni, launching his party, renews his seduction of Zerlina until foiled by Masetto’s sudden reappearance. 

Ottavio, Anna and Elvira, all masked, are invited in. With the party now in full swing, Leporello waltzes off with Masetto while Giovanni leads Zerlina into a private room. Her screams for assistance alert everyone to an assault. Giovanni attempts to blame Leporello, but no one is fooled. As the maskers reveal their identities and threaten him with punishment, Giovanni defies them and escapes.

Dinner interval of approximately 85 minutes

Act II

Back in the street later that evening, Giovanni and Leporello’s relationship reaches breaking-point until Giovanni hands him more money. Giovanni now proposes to seduce Elvira’s maid while dressed as Leporello. When Elvira herself appears at her window, it is Giovanni’s voice she hears pleading for forgiveness, but Leporello’s disguised form she sees. She goes off with him, leaving the real Giovanni to serenade her maid.

Masetto and his cronies arrive in search of Giovanni, finding, as they believe, Leporello instead. Giovanni sends the others off on a wild goose chase and beats the defenceless Masetto before disappearing. Arriving in search of Masetto, Zerlina tenderly binds his wounds. 

Leporello, meanwhile, is attempting to escape from Elvira in the darkness. The arrival of Ottavio, Anna, Zerlina and Masetto prevents him, and only the removal of his disguise saves him from their anger; Zerlina, even so, takes the opportunity to punish him. Elvira contemplates the follies into which her love has led her, while recognizing that she cannot give it up.

That night, in a graveyard, Giovanni and Leporello catch up on each other’s latest doings, including the former’s attempted seduction of the latter’s girlfriend. As Giovanni laughs at the joke, the voice of the Commendatore’s statue is heard warning him of speedy retribution. Giovanni forces Leporello to invite the statue to dinner; the statue agrees.

In Anna’s house, Ottavio renews his offer of marriage; still grieving, she defers their discussion.

At Giovanni’s house, the master and servant are being musically entertained at supper. Suddenly Elvira enters, with one final plea for Giovanni to reform. She is rebuffed, but her scream on leaving announces another visitor. The statue has come for dinner. As Leporello hides, the statue invites Giovanni to dine with him in return. He agrees. As he grasps the statue’s hand, he feels a deadly chill, but refuses to repent. Amid fire and earthquake he is swallowed up by the ground.

The other characters rush in to learn of his fate and moralize on the reward for his wickedness.

Words: George Hall

 

Don Giovanni versions

There are two versions of Don Giovanni, the first for the premiere in Prague in October 1787 and the second for Vienna in May 1788, which Glyndebourne is performing. To accommodate a different cast for the Vienna performances, Mozart composed some new recitatives and arias and cut some of the original material, especially in Act II, where the changes also brought some alteration to the plot before the reappearance of Don Giovanni in the Graveyard Scene.

In Act I, the only change is the addition of Don Ottavio’s aria ‘Dalla sua pace’. This was a substitute for his original Act II aria ‘Il mio tesoro’, which was cut in Vienna.

Within the changed plot sequence and recitative for Act II in Vienna, Mozart added the ‘Shaving Duet’ ‘Per queste tue manine’ for Zerlina and Leporello and the aria ‘Mi tradì’ for Donna Elvira. He also made a brief cut in the final scene.

Creative team

Conductor Robin Ticciati
Director Jonathan Kent
Revival director Lloyd Wood
Designer Paul Brown
Lighting designer Mark Henderson
Movement director Denni Sayers
Fight director Alison de Burgh

Cast

Il Commendatore In-Sung Sim
Donna Anna Albina Shagimuratova
Don Ottavio Toby Spence
Don Giovanni Lucas Meachem
Leporello Matthew Rose
Donna Elvira Miah Persson
Zerlina Marita Solberg
Masetto David Soar

The Orchestra of the Age of Enlightenment
The Glyndebourne Chorus

Audio files: 
2011 Festival production
Lucas Meachem as Don Giovanni. Photo: Robbie Jack
The cast. Photo: Robbie Jack
Lucas Meachem as Don Giovanni and Marita Solberg as Zerlina. Photo: Robbie Jack
Miah Persson as Donna Elvira. Photo: Robbie Jack
The cast. Photo: Robbie Jack
David Soar as Masetto and Marita Solberg as Zerlina. Photo: Robbie Jack
Miah Persson as Donna Elvira. Photo: Robbie Jack
Matthew Rose as Leporello and Lucas Meachem as Don Giovanni
Miah Persson as Donna Elvira. Photo: Robbie Jack

Comments

Yet another evening at Glyndebourne which makes you feel lucky to be there, a very exciting performance all round.

It was a first class performance we all enjoyed it.

My parents visited from Germany last weekend and we went to see Don Giovanni on Sunday 6th of June. The performance was exceptional, the costumes, stage, singing from Bass to Soprano, and the Orchestra.

My family loved the visit and commented how authentic it was to see people having picnics in the rain. Thank you for making our visit so special

Michael Voigt

This is from an opera novice but bear with me! There are clearly many interpretations possible for Don Giovanni but that doesn't make this season's relaxed and sometimes funny performance any less valid. Instead of anger, Elvira was consumed by thwarted love mixed with a little understanding of just how damaged DG really was, which I found very poignant. I wouldn't have fallen for him myself but his voice was spellbinding!
My first trip to Glyndebourne and it wont be my last. I loved it. Fantastic staging and lighting, what an amazing orchestra under the passionate leadership of such a dynamic conductor. This trip was a birthday present for my partner but the treat was all mine too!

It was ABSOLUTELY spellbinding. An amazing production and incredible scenery. A priveledge to be able to see such an exquisite performance. Bravo

Delightful stage-directing of singers, whose voices were esthetically satisfying, but did not all fully live up to their theatrical potential. In greater detail: I found the men on the whole more effective than the women, though with so little charisma, this Giovanni's power to seduce (the audience, at any rate) was severely reduced. At last an Ottavio who is not a whimp. Elvira's diction left a lot to be desired; she was all dissolving bella abandonata and not the least bit furious: can she not hiss, or spit, an "s"?
Very effective decor during the first half, beautiful use of space, central cube, projected images; in the second half, the sloping labyrinthine intricacy of graveyard is effective at first (in connexion with mistaken identities, narrow escapes, etc.) but works unnecessarily strained when slanted table of Giovanni's dining hall superimposes itself upon slanted grave of commendatore. A Commendatore who is a bit more uomo di sasso and a bit less decaying corpse would send more chills down my spine. All in all this production did make Giovanni into an evildoer and therefore made sense of the moralizing finale (with its divine music). Great conducting to a wonderfully responsive orchestra!

"Love Rat Gets Just Deserts" .... the plot doesn't exactly tax the intellect and there is no music that you will be singing to yourself the next morning, so the singing, orchestra and staging has to be superlative - and in this production, it is.

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