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First performed at the National Theater in Prague in 1787, Mozart’s Don Giovanni is considered by many modern critics to be the composer’s greatest operatic masterpiece. Highly unusual in its time because of its frank sexuality, violent opening, and striking exploration of profound moral and theological issues, Don Giovanni has traditionally been regarded as a weighty antidote to Mozart’s well-known comic operas.
Based on literary treatments associated with the notorious libertine of fiction Don Juan of Seville, and with a libretto written by Lorenzo da Ponte, the opera’s uniqueness derives in part from its origins in a special tradition of Don Juan operas in Prague that have only recently come to light.
Altogether, the music of Don Giovanni is an extraordinary compendium of serious and comic styles. And while minuets were considered somewhat old-fashioned in Mozart’s time, the minuet from the ball scene at the close of the first act remains one of the most famous melodies in all of classical music.
Tickets to the Minnesota Opera’s production of Don Giovanni are not included in tuition. However, registered participants will receive information for a 20 percent discount on tickets to the performance of their choice.
Daniel Freeman, PhD, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, has taught courses in music history at the University of Minnesota and the Smithsonian Institution. Considered the world’s leading historian in the field of 18th-century Czech music, Freeman also is a musicologist and pianist.
Offered in cooperation with the Minnesota Opera.