Conductor: Christofer Macatsoris
Stage Director: Jeffrey Buchman
November 7–21, 2015
“AVA’s talent on display in Don Giovanni”
The Philadelphia Inquirer by David Patrick Stearns
“a propulsive, riveting interpretation”
Broad Street Review by Steve Cohen
Sung in Italian with English supertitles
Mozart’s sublime tragic comedy Don Giovanni is widely regarded as the first Grand Opera ever performed in Philadelphia, debuting at The Chestnut Street Theater in 1818. This will be AVA’s seventh production of the opera since its AVA debut in 1986-87.
AVA first presented Don Giovanni in 1986-87 and continued with performances in 2000, 2005 and 2011 which featured many alumni who have gone on to significant professional careers.
Burak Bilgili, Latonia Moore and Othalie Graham performed in the 2000 production.
Mr. Bilgili debuted with The Metropolitan Opera in 2004, Ms. Moore in 2012 and Ms. Graham frequently performs the title role in Turandot and Aida internationally (most recently with the Nashville Opera in October, 2015).
The opera was again performed in 2005 with Ellie Dehn, Bryan Hymel and Michael Fabiano. Mr. Hymel and Mr. Fabiano have gone on to win the prestigious Tucker Award and have both made their debuts at The Metropolitan Opera in lead roles. Ms. Dehn also enjoys a successful international career and will reprise the role of Donna Anna with Opera Köln this season.
In 2011, Don Giovanni was performed with AVAlumni Michelle Johnson, Taylor Stayton, Chrystal E. Williams and Nicholas Masters. Both Ms. Johnson (Yardbird) and Mr. Stayton (Il barbiere di Siviglia) performed with Opera Philadelphia during their 2014-15 season and all four have sung in Opera Philadelphia productions. Mr. Stayton made his Metropolitan Opera debut earlier this season.
The 2015 cast includes 2014-2015 honorees from the Metropolitan Opera National Council Auditions (MONCA) as well as award-winners from the Gerda Lissner Foundation, Loren L. Zachary Competition and judges’ selections from AVA’s Giargiari Competition. MONCA Grand Finalist Jared Bybee is scheduled to sing the title role for select performances; Zachary Award Top Prize winner and 2014 Giargiari Bel Canto Competition First Prize winner André Courville will sing Leporello for select performances.
The production will also feature four first-year AVA Resident Artists: baritone Ethan Simpson as Don Giovanni; soprano Meryl Dominquez as Donna Anna; soprano JoAna Rusche as Donna Elvira; soprano Allegra De Vita as Zerlina; and baritone Anthony Whitson-Martini as Masetto.
Maestro Christofer Macatsoris welcomes the audience to the Don Giovanni Preview and introduces Stage Director, Jeffrey Buchman
Resident Artists performing “Sola, sola in buio loco”
Accompanied by Richard A. Raub, piano
Resident Artists: JoAna Rusche, mezzo-soprano · Nathan Milholin, bass-baritone · Meryl Dominguez, soprano · Jonas Hacker, tenor · Allegra De Vita, mezzo-soprano · Anthony Whitson-Martini, baritone
Resident Artists performing “Ah taci, ingiusto core”
Accompanied by Richard A. Raub, piano
Resident Artists: Anush Avetisyan, soprano · Jared Bybee, baritone · André Courville, bass-baritone
Maestro Macatsoris discusses the music of Don Giovanni and Mozart
Resident Artists performing Act II Finale
Accompanied by Richard A. Raub, piano
Resident Artists: Daniel Noyola, bass-baritone · Nathan Milholin, bass-baritone · Anush Avetisyan, soprano · Anthony Schneider, bass
Scenes may be altered or condensed in production.
Leporello, Don Giovanni’s servant, complains of his lot. He is keeping watch while Don Giovanni, his master, has entered the Commendatore’s house in an attempt to seduce the Commendatore’s daughter, Donna Anna. Don Giovanni is masked and Donna Anna insists on knowing his true identity, but before he can break free from her grasp she cries for help. The Commendatore appears and forces Don Giovanni to fight a duel while Donna Anna flees to seek help. Don Giovanni kills the Commendatore with his sword and escapes with Leporello. Donna Anna, returns with her fiancé, Don Ottavio, and is horrified to see her father lying dead in a pool of his own blood. She begs Don Ottavio swear vengeance against the unknown murderer.
Don Giovanni and Leporello arrive and hear a woman (Donna Elvira) singing of having been abandoned by her lover. Don Giovanni starts to seduce her, but it turns out he is the former lover of whom she is speaking. Don Giovanni denies this and pushes Leporello in front of Donna Elvira flees.
Leporello tells Donna Elvira that Don Giovanni is not worth her feelings for him. He is unfaithful to everyone; his conquests include 640 women and girls in Italy, 231 in Germany, 100 in France, 91 in Turkey, but in Spain, 1,003. Upon hearing this, Donna Elvira vows vengeance.
A marriage procession with Masetto and Zerlina enters. Don Giovanni and Leporello arrive soon after. Don Giovanni is immediately attracted to Zerlina and he attempts to remove the jealous Masetto by offering to host a wedding celebration at his castle. Don Giovanni finds himself alone with Zerlina he immediately begins to seduce her but is soon thwarted by Donna Elvira.
Don Ottavio and Donna Anna are still plotting vengeance on the unknown murderer of Donna Anna’s father. Speaking to Don Giovanni, unaware that he was the attacker, Donna Anna pleads for his help. Don Giovanni, relieved that he is unrecognized, readily promises it. Donna Elvira enters and reproaches Don Giovanni to the others. Donna Anna suddenly recognizes Don Giovanni as her father’s murderer but Don Ottavio is skeptical.
Don Giovanni asks Leporello to organize a party and invite every woman he can find. They hasten to his palace.
Meanwhile, Zerlina follows the jealous Masetto and tries to reassure him of her feelings, but just as she manages to persuade him of her innocence, Don Giovanni’s voice from offstage startles and frightens her. Masetto hides, resolving to see for himself what Zerlina will do when Don Giovanni arrives. Zerlina tries to hide from Don Giovanni, but he finds her and attempts to continue the seduction, until he stumbles upon Masetto’s hiding place. Confused but quickly recovering, Don Giovanni reproaches Masetto for leaving Zerlina alone and returns her temporarily to him. Don Giovanni exits to his ballroom. Three masked guests, the disguised Don Ottavio, Donna Anna, and Donna Elvira, enter the garden. From a balcony, Leporello invites them to his master’s party.
As the festivities proceed, Leporello distracts Masetto by dancing with him, while Don Giovanni leads Zerlina to a private room. When Zerlina screams for help, Don Giovanni tries to fool the onlookers by dragging Leporello into the room and threatening to kill him for assaulting Zerlina. But Don Ottavio produces a pistol, and the three guests unmask and declare that they know about Don Giovanni’s deceptions. Don Giovanni escapes – for the moment.
Leporello threatens to leave Don Giovanni, but his master calms him with a peace offering ofmoney. Wanting to seduce Donna Elvira’s maid and believing that she will trust him better if he appears in lower-class clothes, Don Giovanni persuades Leporello to exchange cloak and hat with him. Donna Elvira comes to her window. Seeing an opportunity for a game, Don Giovanni hides and sends Leporello out in the open wearing Don Giovanni’s cloack and hat. From his hiding place Don Giovanni sings a promise of repentance, expressing a desire to return to her and threatening to kill himself if she does not take him back, while Leporello poses as Don Giovanni and tries to keep from laughing. Donna Elvira is convinced and descends to the street. Leporello, continuing to pose as Don Giovanni, leads her away to keep her occupied while Don Giovanni serenades her maid with his mandolin.
Before Don Giovanni can complete his seduction of the maid, Masetto and his friends arrive searching for Don Giovanni intending to kill him. Still disguised as Leporello, Don Giovanni convinces the posse that he also hates Don Giovanni and joins the hunt. After cunningly dispersing Masetto’s friends, Don Giovanni takes Masetto’s weapons away, beats him up and runs off laughing. Zerlina arrives and consoles the bruised and battered Masetto.
Leporello abandons Donna Elvira but just as he is about to leave, Zerlina and Masetto see him dressed as Don Giovanni, catch him before he can escape and they threaten to kill him. Donna Elvira tries to protect the man who she thinks is Don Giovanni, claiming that he is her husband and begging for pity. Immediately, Leporello reveals his true identity and begs for mercy.
Leporello finds Don Giovanni in a cemetery and tells him of his brush with danger. Suddenly, the booming voice of a statue warns Don Giovanni that his laughter will not last beyond sunrise. At the command of his master, Leporello reads the inscription upon the statue’s base: “Here am I waiting for revenge against the scoundrel who killed me.” The servant trembles but the unabashed Don Giovanni invites the statue to dinner. Much to his surprise, the statue nods its head and responds affirmatively.
Later, Don Giovanni revels in the luxury of a great meal served by Leporello and of musical entertainment. Donna Elvira appears, saying that she no longer feels resentment for Don Giovanni, only pity. Surprised by her lack of hatred, Don Giovanni asks what it is that she wants and she begs him to change his life. Don Giovanni turns away, praising wine and women as the “support and glory of humankind.” Hurt and angry, Donna Elvira gives up and leaves. A moment later, her scream is heard from outside the walls of the palace and she returns only to flee through another door. Don Giovanni orders Leporello to see what has upset her. Upon peering outside, the servant also cries out and runs back into the room, stammering that the statue has appeared as promised.
An ominous knocking sounds at the door. Leporello, paralyzed by fear, cannot answer it, so Don Giovanni opens it himself, revealing the statue of the Commendatore. The Commendatore offers a last chance to repent but Don Giovanni adamantly refuses. The statue disappears and Don Giovanni cries out in pain and terror as he is surrounded by a chorus of demons who carry him down to Hell.
Donna Anna, Don Ottavio, Donna Elvira, Zerlina, and Masetto arrive, searching for the villain. They find instead Leporello hiding under the table, shaken by the supernatural horror he has witnessed. Don Giovanni is dead. Donna Anna and Don Ottavio will marry when Donna Anna’s year of mourning is over; Donna Elvira will spend the rest of her life in a convent; Zerlina and Masetto will finally go home for dinner; and Leporello will go to the tavern to find a better master.