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Don Giovanni

Music Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart Text Lorenzo da Ponte
→ Heiteres Drama in zwei Akten

29. January 2023
19.00 - 22.15
1 intermission
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01. February 2023
19.00 - 22.15
1 intermission
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03. February 2023
1 intermission
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06. February 2023
19.00 - 22.15
1 intermission
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Cast 29.01.2023

Musical Direction Antonello Manacorda
Production Barrie Kosky
Bühne & Kostüme Katrin Lea Tag
Lighting Design Franck Evin


Don Juan is a figure which crosses boundaries: the boundary between the sexes, the boundary between the classes and the boundary between life and death showing that even cemetery walls don't stop him. He is said to have already loved 2065 women, 1003 in Spain alone, 640 in Italy, 231 in Germany and 100 in France. He is not only poaching in the Christian Occident, but also in the Orient where there were 91 in Turkey (his servant keeps a precise record of this).

In European literature, he has been on his ways since the Counter-Reformation, when around 1620 a Spanish monk recorded his legend in the comedia The Mockers of Seville and the Stone Guest. Quickly he penetrated the stage templates of the Italian commedia dell’arte as well as the classic French comedy. In Prague, Mozart and Da Ponte gave him his most impressive shape in their opera Don Giovanni or The Punished Libertine premiered there in 1787. The elements of farce, comic and tragic opera, in the low and high style, symphonic and sacred music, all occurring simultaneously lead into new virgin territory crossing borders of genre, right up to the rhythmic cacophony of the 1st Act Finale, with the three dance bands all playing at the same time, and to passages in which the chromaticism is driven even into atonal textures.

Giovanni is between all of these languages, he has no music of his own because he makes himself the object of projection for the women he desires: Donna Anna who was brought up in her father’s strict care and who seeks in him adventure; Donna Elvira who has escaped all ties, seeking and hoping to find in him emotional stability; and the lower-class girl Zerlina, who in his arms dreams of social advancement. The labyrinthine sequence of scenes in the opera is framed first by Giovanni’s murder of Donna Anna’s father and then his return from the dead as the "stone guest".

In the Catholic comedia, when Giovanni felt his end was approaching, he begged in vain to be allowed to confess. In the opera, it is the stone guest who wants to protect the rebel from eternal damnation by summoning him to repent – which he refuses. So, despite the fall into hell, it remains disputable who will be the inferior in this duel because the intellectual defiance of Giovanni is unbroken.

With this premiere production, the Vienna State Opera begins a new cycle of the Mozart-Da Ponte operas under the leadership of its musical director Philippe Jordan and directed by Barrie Kosky.


Act 1

Don Giovanni’s servant Leporello dreams of one day being a master instead of always being the servant. Donna Anna tries to stop Don Giovanni from fleeing. She calls for help. Don Giovanni declares that she will never find out who he is. Donna Anna’s father, the Commendatore, corners Don Giovanni. In the ensu- ing fight, Don Giovanni fatally injures the Commendatore and makes his escape with Leporello, who reproaches him. Donna Anna urges her fiancé, Don Ottavio, to help her father, but when they arrive the Commendatore is already dead. Donna Anna extracts a promise from her fiancé that he will avenge her father’s death. Don Giovanni is out in search of a new conquest. Instead of a conquest, how ever, he and Leporello encounter Donna Elvira, who accuses Giovanni of having deceived and seduced her with false promises. While Leporello distracts Donna Elvira, Don Giovanni is able to escape. Together with their friends, Masetto and Zerlina are celebrating love, youth and their upcoming marriage. Don Giovanni and Leporello observe the scene with interest. Don Giovanni orders Leporello to take the assembled company, and above all the bridegroom, to his palace and entertain them there; he and Zerlina will follow later. He answers Masetto’s objections with an illconcealed threat. Masetto is forced to relent. Don Giovanni invites Zerlina to his nearby palace, saying he plans to marry her there. Initially Zerlina hesitates, but then agrees. The two of them are interrupted by Donna Elvira, who warns Zerlina about the seducer and leaves with her. Don Ottavio and Donna Anna ask for Don Giovanni’s help looking for the unknown murderer of the Commendatore. Once again, Donna Elvira enters and warns them about Giovanni’s nefarious nature. In response, Giovanni insinuates that Elvira has taken leave of her senses; he follows her when she leaves. Don Giovanni’s demeanour has revealed to Donna Anna that this is the man who murdered her father. She again calls on Don Ottavio to avenge her. Don Giovanni tells Leporello to prepare a celebration at which he plans to make new conquests. Zerlina tries to convince Masetto that nothing happened between her and Don Giovanni. Don Giovanni enters and urges both of them to celebrate with him. Donna Anna, Donna Elvira and Don Ottavio approach, masked. At Don Giovanni’s bidding, Leporello invites them to the party. Don Giovanni disappears with Zerlina. Soon she is heard crying for help. Donna Anna, Donna Elvira, Don Ottavio and Masetto rush to protect her. Don Giovanni points to Leporello as the guilty party. The others don’t believe him, but they are also unable to catch Don Giovanni.

Act 2

Don Giovanni forces Leporello to exchange clothes with him. Disguised as his servant, he wants to seduce Donna Elvira’s maid, while Leporello keeps Donna Elvira occupied. Leporello takes delight in heaping flattery on Donna Elvira. Instead of the new conquest he had hoped for, Don Giovanni runs into Masetto, who is armed and looking for him. However, Masetto does not recognize him in Leporello’s clothes. After Giovanni has relieved him of his weapons, Giovanni gives him a thrashing. Zerlina finds her injured fiancé and tends to his wounds. Leporello tries to escape from Donna Elvira. He runs into Donna Anna and Don Ottavio, Zerlina and Masetto, who mistake him for Don Giovanni. They are determined to kill him. Donna Elvira begs them to have pity. Leporello reveals his identity and asserts his innocence. Making excuses, he manages to escape. Donna Elvira is torn between feeling vengeance and concern for Don Giovanni. Don Giovanni and Leporello meet in the cemetery. Don Giovanni takes great delight in recounting his latest amorous escapades. The voice of the Commendatore warns them not to disturb the rest of the dead. Don Giovanni laughs at the old man and orders Leporello to invite the Commendatore to dinner. Leporello pronounces the invitation. The Commendatore accepts. Don Ottavio offers Donna Anna comfort and his hand. She begs his understanding of her situation and asks him to be patient. Don Giovanni prepares a sumptuous dinner. Donna Elvira appears. She urges Don Giovanni to change his ways. Giovanni mocks her. Elvira leaves, and is then heard to cry out in horror. The Commendatore enters. He offers Don Giovanni a reciprocal invitation. Don Giovanni accepts. He grasps the hand offered him and is alarmed by its ice-cold touch. The Commendatore calls on Don Giovanni to repent and change his lifestyle: this is his last opportunity. Don Giovanni declines. Voices announce his punishment. Don Giovanni collapses.

Donna Anna, Donna Elvira, Don Ottavio, Zerlina and Masetto arrive to punish Don Giovanni in suitable fashion. They find only Leporello, who tells them of the fate that has befallen Don Giovanni. The party disperses, but not before summing up: the death of evildoers always reflects how they have lived their lives.