Considered by some to be the greatest opera ever written, Don Giovanni was the second product of an incredibly fruitful collaboration between two geniuses: the legendary W.A. Mozart and the talented Italian librettist Lorenzo da Ponte. Based on Molière's Don Juan, the two-act dramma giocoso premiered in October 1787 at Prague's state theater to rave reviews. The 2017 Festival d'Aix-en-Provence brought Mozart's fabulously devious work to the stage once more in a production by stage director Jean-François Sivadie. Starring Philippe Sly (Don Giovanni), Nahuel di Pierro (Leporello), and Eleonora Buratto (Donna Anna), the excellent performance featured the acclaimed maestro Jérémie Rhorer at the head of the period instrument ensemble Le Cercle de l'Harmonie.
With the help of his loyal servant Leporello, Don Giovanni leads a villainous life devoted to the disreputable pleasure of seducing and abandoning young women. One evening, he tries his luck with Donna Anna, but her father, Il Commendatore, intervenes, leading to a duel that ends with Don Giovanni killing him. Brushing off the incident, Don Giovanni continues on his merry way, trying to seduce the young bride Zerlina on her wedding day. Donna Elvira—a former conquest still in love with the Don—arrives on the scene and stops him. Escaping his would-be victims, Don Giovanni orders Leporello to switch identities with him. In Act II, Don Giovanni visits a cemetery. Suddenly a statue comes to life and warns him to leave the dead in peace. Don Giovanni invites the statue to his house for dinner, not realizing the statue to be none other than Il Commendatore. That evening, the statue grabs Don Giovanni and demands that he repent, but he refuses. In the ultimate punishment, Don Giovanni is sent to hell in flames.
Photo: Don Giovanni, Mozart – Festival d’Aix-en-Provence 2017 ©Pascal Victor/artcompress