An arresting mix of comedy, melodrama, and tragedy, with music as sublime and seductive as anything Mozart ever wrote.
The opera is centuries-old proof that the need for the #MeToo movement is nothing new, and that opera can be both dazzling and relevant to our time.
Lobby Lecture | Robert Holliston
Join Robert Holliston for this online version of his iconic pre-show lobby lecture as he chats about Don Giovanni, giving you all the need-to-know information and a handful of obscure anecdotes about the opera and Mozart himself.
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All Pacific Opera events held at the Royal Theatre will follow the COVID-19 Protocols of the theatre. We are watching provincial health orders daily, and will review policies with the Royal Theatre and the Victoria Symphony when the province changes the current requirement.
You can view the Royal Theatre’s Public Health Information here.
Preliminary set designs by Set and Costume Designer Christina Poddubiuk
Leporello waits outside the Commendatore’s house as his master, Don Giovanni, is inside assaulting the Commendatore’s daughter, Donna Anna. When Anna’s father challenges Giovanni to a duel, Giovanni kills him and escapes.
Giovanni and Leporello encounter a woman lamenting her lover’s infidelity. It is Donna Elvira, whom Giovanni has loved and left. Giovanni quickly slips away, leaving Leporello to “explain” things to the furious Elvira.
Peasants arrive, celebrating the betrothal of Zerlina and Masetto. Giovanni sends them to his palace for a feast, and begins to seduce Zerlina, only to be interrupted by Elvira.
Anna and Ottavio approach Giovanni for help in finding the Commendatore’s killer, but Anna realizes after the Don has left that his is the voice of her father’s killer.
Back home, Giovanni calls for more wine, more girls, and plenty of dancing, and resumes his attempt to seduce Zerlina.
Elvira, Anna and Ottavio arrive wearing masks and are invited to the feast. Inside, as the guests dance, Giovanni drags Zerlina away, but her screams interrupt the festivities.
Don Giovanni exchanges cloaks with Leporello so that he can seduce Elvira’s maid while Leporello romances Elvira.
Anna, Ottavio, Zerlina and Masetto come upon Elvira and Leporello, who tells them he is not responsible for Giovanni’s despicable behavior.
Leporello and Giovanni meet in a graveyard, where the Commendatore’s statue foretells Giovanni’s doom: “I await vengeance on my murderer.” Giovanni mockingly invites the statue to dinner. The statue accepts.
At home, Giovanni feasts while musicians play. There is a knock at the door: it is the statue of the Commendatore, who demands that Giovanni repent. Giovanni refuses and is taken into the flames of hell.
The others arrive, and learn from Leporello what has happened. All agree that Giovanni met the end he deserved.
Tracy Cantin as Donna Elvira and Justin Welsh as Leporello, 2022. Tim Matheson Photography.
Daniel Okulitch as Don Giovanni, 2022. Mackenzie Lawrence Photography.
Director’s Notes | Maria Lamont
Don Giovanni contains some of the finest and most inspired music of Mozart’s oeuvre, particularly for the theatrical stage. It is one of the pivotal works in the opera repertoire, full of complex issues and psychological insights, enduring for more than 200 years without ever leaving the main canon of operatic works. A hybrid form of comedy and opera seria, the work has elements of a cautionary tale, but at its heart, it remains full of mystery and open to many interpretations. The character of the rake, seducer, and aristocratic assassin began to evolve as a theatrical figure at least a hundred years before Mozart, however, Mozart and Da Ponte created the iconic figure who stands today as the measuring stick for this story. He is a serial seducer, a sexual addict, and a committed atheist. This anti-hero lacks any kind of moral compass and is completely irreverent and transgressive in his every thought and action. He defies the Stone Guest (the title of the pre-Mozart works on the subject), who is the “ghost” of the Commendatore – the representative of Society, Morality, Justice, God, Religion, Afterlife, or some combination of all of the above. He threatens religious order, morality, and the status quo and shows no normal fear. Yet his vitality, joie de vivre, appetites, and purported sexual skill create a deeply attractive persona. The audience is also seduced by Don Giovanni, as his amorality, lack of fear and accountability create an irresistible theatrical force. As a character, Don Giovanni is entirely bound by his relationship with other people and vice versa. In the opera, all the other characters define themselves by their relationship to him, or by the absence of that relationship. This is also true of his relationship with the audience; in Mozart’s great treatise on love, sex and afterlife, the audience enters their own devil’s pact, and we love him also on his terms. He represents an Eros or a life force that we cannot deny.
The opera is fraught with dilemmas and plot complications which make the storytelling challenging for a director. With its mix of Commedia dell’arte, drama, and ghost story, Da Ponte and Mozart’s version focuses on certain key characters (merging some brilliantly), with the main plot point and through-line of the piece being the murder/killing of the Commendatore and his return to Don Giovanni’s table as the “Stone Guest”. Repenting for an act of murder is the crucial element of the plot, more than the dubious moral behaviour involving the serial and sometimes forced “seduction” of thousands of women.
For our production planned for Pacific Opera Victoria, I wanted to place this story in a modern inclusive world, to examine the philosophical issues in the piece are based in a remarkable period of history undergoing major change. In his Mozartian incarnation, Don Giovanni is punished and sent to hell for his crimes, and yet, as with all of the Da Ponte works, the epilogue always leaves room for the characters and the public to question the themes presented in the work. I think it is the way Don Giovanni treats ALL people (male and female) which is crucial for making the connection with the times we are living in today, also a moment of great social and historical upheaval.
To me, a production of Don Giovanni has to be both sexy and terrifying, defiant and cruel, yet never losing the sensitivity and humanity that is the hallmark of Mozart’s tremendous art. Mozart at his heart was a true egalitarian, of both the class and sex. His female characters always have the most depth and true nobility of character. Even cruelly treated, they rise from the ashes. The Commendatore takes the position of the moral high ground, but it feels right to question that morality, and with it, our attraction to vice and cruelty. With Mozart, there is never only good and evil. Both our world and what we call Hell lies in between those two extremes.
Daniel Okulitch as Don Giovanni, Aviva Fortunata as Donna Anna, Owen McCausland as Don Ottavio, and Tracy Cantin as Donna Elvira, 2022. Tim Matheson Photography.
Tracy Cantin as Donna Elvira, 2022. Mackenzie Lawrence Photography.
The Victoria Symphony
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