The setting is Seville and the libretto by Da Ponte is his free adaptation of an old Spanish "legend" which tells of the exploits of the libertine Don Juan (Don Giovanni).
In Act 1, the Don has murdered the Commendatore whose statue in the final act comes to life, and whose ice cold hand casts an unrepentant Don Giovanni into the Flames of Hell.
These opening and closing events are dramatically portrayed by the diminished chords and D minor scale passage in the Overture's opening Andante. The ensuing Allegro attempts to be buoyant, effervescent but is nevertheless tinged with a nervous edge, perhaps trepidation, portraying (although there is humour and revelry within the opera's plot), the Don's life of licentious perfidy.
The Opera was first performed at Prague in October 1787.
Programme notes for BHSO performance, May 2002
Written by Roy Saberton
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