Opera Lecture


AFTERNOON AT THE OPERA: Don Giovanni. First performed in Prague in 1787, Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart’s Don Giovanni ranks among the greatest of operatic masterpieces, distinguished by Lorenzo Da Ponte’s excellent libretto, as well as extraordinary music. Playwright and music critic George Bernard Shaw, considered it a “perfect” opera. Described as a “dramma giocoso” in two acts, Don Giovanni combines humor and seriousness, seduction and punishment, as it dramatizes the story of the legendary lover who has had his servant catalog his amatory encounters (1,003 in Spain alone), not to mention numerous other conquests in Germany, France and Italy. Pursued by three women he has either seduced or attempted to seduce, and by the erstwhile suitors of two of them, Don Giovanni must also contend with a stone statue that comes to life and joins the Don for dinner with disastrous consequences! Mozart depicts and particularizes his various characters through a variety of gorgeous arias, duets and ensemble passages. This lecture will briefly explore the origins of the legend and its various adaptations, and will focus on Mozart and Da Ponte’s work, making use of audio and video examples. Join Professor James Kolb for this audio/visual extravaganza. 3 p.m.