Don Juan

In two acts by MOZART.

Text by DA PONTE.

Don Juan is Mozart's most beautiful opera; we may even say, that it is

the greatest work of this kind, which was ever written by a German

musician. The text too, written by Mozart's friend, is far above the

level of ordinary opera-texts.

The hero, spoilt by fortune and blase, is ever growing more reckless.

ven dares to attack the virtue of Donna Anna, one of the first

ladies of a city in Spain, of which her father, an old Spanish Grandee,

as noble and as strict in virtue as Don Juan is oversatiated and

frivolous, is governor. The old father coming forward to help his

beloved daughter, with drawn dagger attacks Don Juan, who compelled to

defend himself, has the misfortune to stab his assailant.

Donna Anna, a lady not only noble and virtuous, but proud and

high-spirited, vows to avenge her father's death. Though betrothed to

a nobleman, named Octavio, she will never know any peace until her

father, of whose death she feels herself the innocent cause, is

avenged. Her only hope is death, and in that she offers the liveliest

contrast to her betrothed, who shows himself a gentleman of good temper

and qualities, but of a mind too weak for his lady's high-flown courage

and truly tragic character. Though Octavio wants to avenge Donna

Anna's father, he would do it only to please her. His one aim is

marriage with her. Her passionate feelings he does not understand.

Don Juan, pursued not only by Donna Anna, but also by his own neglected

bride, Donna Elvira, tries to forget himself in debauches and

extravagances. His servant Leporello, in every manner the real

counterpart of his master, is his aider and abettor. A more witty, a

more amusing figure does not exist. His fine sarcasm brings Don Juan's

character into bold relief; they complement and explain each-other.

But Don Juan, passing from one extravagance to another, sinks deeper;

everything he tries begins to fail him, and his doom approaches.--He

begins to amuse himself with Zerlina, the young bride of a peasant,

named Masetto, but each time, when he seems all but successful in his

aim of seducing the little coquette, his enemies, who have united

themselves against him, interfere and present a new foe in the person

of the bridegroom, the plump and rustic Masetto. At last Don Juan is

obliged to take refuge from the hatred of his pursuers. His flight

brings him to the grave of the dead governor, in whose memory a

life-size statue has been erected in his own park. Excited to the

highest pitch and almost beside himself, Don Juan even mocks the dead;

he invites him to a supper. The statue moves its head in acceptance of

the dreadful invitation of the murderer.

Towards evening Donna Elvira comes to see him, willing to pardon

everything, if only her lover will repent. She fears for him and

for his fate, she does not ask for his love, but only for the

repentance of his follies, but all is in vain. The half-drunken Don

Juan laughs at her, and so she leaves him alone. Then the ghostly

guest, the statue of the governor enters. He too tries to move his

host's conscience; he fain would save him in the last hour. Don Juan

remains deaf to those warnings of a better self, and so he incurs his

doom. The statue vanishes, the earth opens and the demons of hell

devour Don Juan and his splendid palace.