Don Giovanni

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Don Giovanni is a immensely popular opera in two acts with music by Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart (1756-1791)[1] and an Italian libretto by Lorenzo Da Ponte (1749–1838)[2].

The original text

Its full original title is Il Dissoluto Punito,ossia il Don Giovanni ("The profligate Punished, or Don Giovanni"), but it is best known simply as Don Giovanni. Based on the legends of Don Juan, Mozart himself referred to it as an opera buffa[3]. The work was first performed by the Prague Italian opera at the Teatro di Praga (today the Estates Theatre) on October 29, 1787.

Translations and adaptations

In the years 1819-1824 Lord Byron (1788–1824)[4] published the 17 cantos of his satiric poem Don Juan, based on the legend and presumably influenced by Mozart's opera, in which he portrays Juan not as a womaniser but as someone easily seduced by women. When the first two cantos were published anonymously in 1819, the poem was criticised for its "immoral content", but it was also immensely popular.

In the 1860s J.H. Byron (1835–1884)[5] produced two burlesque versions of the opera:

Little Don Giovanni, or Leporello and the Stone Statue is a burlesque, largely based on Mozart's opera, with an overture and incidental music by J.C. Van Maanan. First performed in London on 26 December, 1865. Published in London, 1867.

An Original, Musical, Pantomical, Comical. Christmas Extravaganza, Entitled Don Juan! is a rare text likewise written by Byron. Performed in London in 1873.

Performance history in South Africa

For South African performances on the adaptations, go to the individual entries.

For South African performances of the Mozart Opera, see below:

1938: Presented at the Johannesburg Music Festival by John Connell.

1972: Presented in English by PACT Opera, with Nellie du Toit as Donna Anna, produced by Leonard Schach, conducted by Leo Quayle; presented by CAPAB Opera.

1977: Presented by PACT Opera.

1985: Presented by CAPAB Opera (7–18 February)

1991: Presented by CAPAB Opera (24 August – 8 September)

1993: Presented by CAPAB Opera (23 August – 3 September)

2000: Presented by Cape Town Opera (30 September – 8 October)

2008: Presented by Cape Town Opera (31 August – 6 September)

2013: Presented by Cape Town Opera (20–24 August)


Armand E. Singer 1993 The Don Juan Theme: An Annotated Bibliography of Versions, Analogues, Uses, and Adaptions. West Virginia University Press[6]

Jacques P. Malan. 1984-1986. South African Music Encyclopedia. Cape Town: Oxford University Press.

Hilde Roos. 2012. Indigenisation and history: how opera in South Africa became South African opera, Acta Academica (AA 2012 Supplementum 1)[7]].

Havergal Brian. "John Connell’s Johannesburg Festival" from "On the other hand". Musical opinion, June 1938, p. 777.

Alexandra Xenia Sabina Mossolow. 2003. The career of South African soprano Nellie du Toit, born 1929. Unpublished Masters thesis. University of Stellenbosch.

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