Watch Joseph Losey's remarkable adaptation of one of Mozart's most famous operas: Don Giovanni. This marvelous production created in 1979 recounts the legend of Don Juan, the libertine seducer.
Don Giovanni is the result of Mozart's second collaboration with the mercurial librettist Lorenzo da Ponte. It draws its inspiration from Molière's Don Juan, a play that Mozart knew almost by heart. As Mozart said it himself, it is an opera buffa. Don Giovanni was ordered to Mozart by the Teatro di Praga which had just hosted the successful Le Nozze di Figaro. Both opera were played by the same company: the company Bondini. Don Giovanni was premiered in 1787. Legend has it that the overture had been composed by Mozart the night before the premiere in only three hours.
This opera deals with the libertine seducer Don Giovanni, who, helped by his assistant Leporello, seduces and abandones young women. As he tries to seduce Donna Anna, her father, Il Commendatore, interposes. Don Giovanni kills him in a duel. Nonetheless, he continues his conquests and tries to seduce a new girl, Zerlina, who is about to marry Masetto. Don Giovanni is pursued by Donna Elvira, whom he neglected (she still has feelings for him). In an attempt to escape his victims, he requires Leporello to exchange their identity. In the second act, Don Giovanni is in a cemetery at night when a voice from a statue asks him to leave the dead in peace. He invites the statue to dinner. The statue, which is in fact Il Commendatore, shows up at Don Giovanni's. Grabbing the hand of Don Giovanni, the statue asks him to repent. Don Giovanni refuses and is engulfed in the flames of hell.
I believe that Don Giovanni is a piece of rebellion, if not revolution... (Joseph Losey)
Joseph Losey's film adaptation combines Mozart's original work with his own reading of the opera. It is an encounter of two imaginary worlds. The first world is personal, it presents Joseph Losey's own image of the character, while the second one is universal: the fruit of Western music. Don Giovanni is played and sung in Italian, the libretto's original language. The cast is international, composed of artists of many countries, and starring such great names as Ruggero Raimondi, Kiri Te Kanawa, Teresa Berganza, Edda Moser and José van Dam. The film is played in the decor of the Palladio villas near Vicenza, monumental constructions of the 16th century which are both strict and baroque. Losey banishes the limits of the stage and favors an authentic decor.
We are creating a new form. A real film, set in real locations with people acting out a real story which is told cinematically and in words as well as in music... (Joseph Losey)
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