Mozart – Overture to Don Giovanni

by Max Derrickson

Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart    (b. January 27, 1756 in Salzburg; d. December 5, 1791 in Vienna)

Overture to Don Giovanni

Don Giovanni is truly one of the great operas ever written, and its Overture forever a delight.  The music and libretto were instantly beloved at their premiere in Prague in October of 1787.  But then, unbelievably, after its ecstatic premiere inBohemia, this masterpiece found only a lukewarm reception in Mozart’s hometown of Vienna.  Indeed,Vienna’s near disdain for this extraordinary opera became another tragedy compounding the already difficult situation in Mozart’s life, all of which soon lead to a serious decline in his health and finances, and from these hardships he would essentially never recover.

The opera is based on the life of the fabled Don Juan – the unrepentant playboy, the Spanish Casanova.  His conquests and his comical hijynx are recreated in Mozart’s opera, but amidst a great amount of silliness between Don Giovanni and his sidekick Leporello and their ridiculously scandalous behaviour, there comes a reckoning of abject terror for the Don.  As in a Greek tragedy, we hear a foreshadowing of the terror to come at the outset of the Overture,     [. . .]