Whether seducing a wife on her wedding night or recounting the 2,065 sexual conquests he’s kept track of, “Don Giovanni” delivers drama and laughter.
Mozart’s “Don Giovanni” opened the Opera and Ballet Theater 2017-18 season on Friday.
“Don Giovanni” follows its namesake as he seduces a string of women and attempts to outmaneuver the consequences of his hedonistic lifestyle. The drama giocoso, or drama with jokes, contains both elements of comedy and tragedy.
In one scene, a character laments the death of her father at the hands of Don Giovanni. In a later scene, he dons a disguise and misleads the angry mob set out to kill him.
“You can have a scene where somebody is suffering, then all of a sudden we’re laughing at their suffering because the situation calls for that, and I think that’s really unique,” director David Lefkowich said.
Maestro Arthur Fagen directed the concert orchestra in the music of “Don Giovanni.” Written later in the Mozart’s life, the opera demonstrates his advanced composing capabilities, Lefkowich said.
“In this one there are wonderful ensembles that are interwoven with the arias, so you never get bored,” Lefkowich said. “With Mozart, you can listen to it one time and enjoy it, but the more you listen to it, the deeper the understanding and appreciation goes.”
“Each act ends with a larger finale which takes its time and has its own energy and its own rhythm to it that keeps it exciting,” Lefkowich said. “It’s worth staying to the end.”
All characters have their own unique musical style on stage. Don Giovanni, however, adapts these styles to his own whenever he tries to manipulate or woo someone. Giovanni said, “My heart is full of love” when explaining why he attempts to manipulate women, and that women and wine are the “essence and glory of humankind.”
“That’s his mantra, he believes in it,” Bruno Sandes, one of the singers playing Don Giovanni, said. “He uses music whenever words are not enough.”
This uncut production of “Don Giovanni” includes each scene and piece of music written by Mozart, including musical lines repeated for clarity. The show is also double-cast, meaning two sets of actors alternate performance nights.
“I want to show the human side of Don Giovanni,” Sandes said. “There are so many layers of his personality. There's no consequences for him. He lives in the moment as much as he can.”
The final lines signal a moral message: “Such is the end of the evildoer: the death of a sinner always reflects his life.” One of Sandes' main goals with “Don Giovanni” is to engage the audience in this message by crossing the barrier between audience and singer, he said.
“When you take people from reality and bring them to a different reality, part of the art is achieved,” Sandes said. “They have to come to the theater and leave with a feeling.”
"Don Giovanni" will play again on Sept. 22 and 23. Tickets start at $10 for students.
Correction: An earlier version of this story incorrectly stated ticket prices for the show. Student tickets start at $10. The IDS regrets this error.