Austin Opera culminates its 2014-15 Season with Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart’s critically acclaimed dark comedy, Don Giovanni.
Join us for this incredible production featuring powerful vocals, the captivating virtuoso of Mozart, and a unique set where seduction, entertainment and danger collide. Don Giovanni is both charismatic and repulsive in his cavalier manipulations of others. But Don Giovanni, with all his arrogance, promiscuity and cunning, is finally undone by a vengeful victim incapable of outwit or defeat. This masterpiece, deemed “the greatest opera ever written” by George Bernard Shaw, brings justice to an outlandishly lecherous and wild man.
Watch this highlights reel from a recent production by the Metropolitan Opera.
Stage director Rebecca Herman and the scenic designs of Kimm Kovac, of the Pittsburgh Opera, place Don Giovanni in a bull fighting ring where performance, danger and death shine. This nontraditional setting will transport you out of The Long Center and deep into the lives of these classic characters you’ve just met. That’s the magic of opera, after all.
Based on the legendary Lothario, Don Juan, Don Giovanni was first performed in 1787 at the Teatro di Praga in Prague to rave reviews. This complex character, with his many faults, keeps audiences engrossed and rooting for his success. But by the end of two acts, you are left satisfied as Don Giovanni is brought to justice.
Don Giovanni will feature the Austin Opera Chorus and the Austin Opera Orchestra.
Don Giovanni will be sung in Italian with the English translation projected above the stage, in two acts. An intermission will occur after Act 1.
Learn more about the artists, production team, and the synopsis.
Don Giovanni – Morgan Smith
Donna Anna – Danielle Pastin
Donna Elvira – Karin Wolverton
Don Ottavio – Jason Slayden
Leporello – Matthew Burns
Zerlina – Karin Mushegian
Il Commendatore – Gustav Andreassen
Composer: Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart | Libretto: Lorenzo da Ponte | Conductor: Richard Buckley | Stage Director: Rebecca Herman | Chorus Master: Marc Erck | Scenic Designer: Kimm Kovac | Lighting Designer: James Sale
More about our Principal Artists:
Morgan Smith, baritone singing Giovanni – Morgan Smith closes ALO’s 28th season by singing the role of Giovanni in Mozart’s Don Giovanni. Recent successes include his return to San Francisco Opera for the role of Starbuck in Jake Heggie’s Moby-Dick, a role he inaugurated for the world premiere at Dallas Opera and later sang at San Diego Opera.
Morgan Smith made his European debut in the 2009-2010 Season at Berlin Staatsoper as Marcello, and at Oper Leipzig as Rossini’s Figaro, Papageno,Marcello, Leandre The Love for Three Oranges and Whitelaw Savory One Touch of Venus.
Mr. Smith reprises the role of Giovanni with the Austin Opera, having previously portrayed him in the 2011 Seattle Opera production to critical acclaim.
Starbuck, San Francisco Opera: “Morgan Smith was simply terrific as the first mate, Starbuck. Dubious about his increasingly unhinged captain’s obsession with the white whale and looking out for the crew’s interests, Smith brought dramatic authority to the conflicted Christian first mate and sang with a burnished baritone and stern power while also bringing a nostalgic yearning to his moments of homesickness for his wife and family.” – Lawrence A. Johnson, Classical Music Review
Don Giovanni, Seattle Opera: “Baritone Morgan Smith gave an electrifying performance as Don Giovanni, radiating saturnine power, dark magnetism and cruel charm. His ample, cognac-smooth voice has just enough snarl to give it bite. This young singer already inhabits the role the way James Bond fills a tux.” – Jack Frymire, The Bellingham Hearld
Danielle Pastin, soprano singing Donna Anna – Quoted as having “a lovely demeanor and irresistible creamy timbre” by Opera News, fast-rising young American soprano Danielle Pastin is quickly gaining attention from opera houses around the country. She made her main stage Metropolitan Opera debut in 2011 singing Masha and covering Chloë in The Queen of Spades and has been invited back several times since, covering the role of Javotte in a new production of Massenet’s Manon, covering Samaritana in Francesca da Rimini and most recently singing Frasquita in Carmen, a role she also performs this coming season in her debut with the Dallas Opera.
She recently triumphed in her Santa Fe Opera debut, stepping in as Mimì in La bohème under the direction of Maestro Leo Vordoni on just a few hours’ notice and subsequently received their Judith Raskin Memorial Award for Singers.
In November of 2011, Danielle was named a Sullivan Foundation Award winner and in April of 2012 she won Second Place in The Gerda Lissner Foundation International Vocal Competition.
Louise, Pittsburgh Opera: “Soprano Danielle Pastin, who had a lead in last year’s “The Grapes of Wrath,” chose the exquisite “Depuis le jour,” from Charpentier’s “Louise,” showing off her opulent timbre and shimmering high notes here and also in an aria from Puccini’s “La Rondine. Hers is one of most beautiful voices to be heard in Pittsburgh in recent years.” – Andrew Druckenbrod, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette
“Pastin often ends her phrases with beautiful tapers that make it very difficult to identify where her voice ends and silence begins.”– The Tartan, Carngie Mellon
Matthew Burns, bass-baritone singing Leporello – Declared as “having a beautiful bass-baritone voice” by the New York Times, Matthew Burns is a dynamic performer known for his unique portrayals of opera’s most acclaimed bass-baritone roles spanning the repertoire from dramatic roles to buffo roles, and everything in between. This season, Mr. Burns also performs the role of Leporello in Don Giovanni with Opera Memphis. He will also appear as Sir John Falstaff in The Merry Wives of Windsor at Fargo Moorehead Opera, he will perform in Wuthering Heights at Florentine Opera, and sing Rambaldo in La roudine at Opera Theatre Saint Louis. In concert, he’ll sing the baritone solo in Händel’s Messiah with Rhode Island Philharmonic and appear in American Opera Projects’ Composers & The Voice series.
Le nozze di Figaro, Virginia Opera: “Matthew Burns’ Figaro retains the former barber’s sunny character and adaptable wit, lightening even the heaviest scenes he blunders into…. Better yet, Mr. Burns’ flexible bass-baritone seems to wrap itself deftly around the mood of each scene as he alternates moments of great vocal bravado to mocking bars of falsetto when he’s joking about one of the female character’s latest moves.” -Washington Times
Don Giovanni, Opera Cleveland: “Matthew Burns’ cavernous voice and droll earthiness are ideal for Leporello’s nimble shenanigans.” -Cleveland Plain Dealer
Synopsis courtesy of The Metropolitan Opera
Leporello, servant to the nobleman Don Giovanni, keeps watch outside the Commendatore’s home at night. Suddenly, the Commendatore’s daughter, Donna Anna, rushes out, struggling with the masked Giovanni and followed by her father. The Commendatore challenges Giovanni to a duel and is killed. Giovanni and Leporello escape. Anna asks her fiancé, Don Ottavio, to avenge her father’s death.
In the morning, Giovanni and Leporello encounter one of Giovanni’s former conquests, Donna Elvira, who is devastated by his betrayal. Leporello tells her she is neither the first nor the last woman to fall victim to Giovanni and shows her his catalogue with the name of every woman Giovanni has seduced.
Peasants celebrate the marriage of Masetto and Zerlina. Giovanni flirts with the bride, telling her she is destined for a better life. But Elvira tells Zerlina to flee her suitor. She also warns Anna, who is still unaware of the identity of her father’s murderer and has asked Giovanni for help in finding the man. Giovanni, for his part, insists that Elvira is mad, and Anna and Ottavio wonder what to believe. As Giovanni leaves, Anna suddenly recognizes his voice as that of the murderer. Devastated but determined, she once more asks Ottavio to avenge her. He wonders how to restore her peace of mind. Giovanni, who has invited the entire wedding party to his palace, looks forward to an evening of drinking and dancing.
Outside Giovanni’s home, Zerlina asks Masetto to forgive her. Giovanni enters and leads them both inside. Anna, Elvira, and Ottavio appear masked and are invited in by Leporello. In the ballroom, Giovanni dances with Zerlina, then tries to drag her into the adjoining room. When she cries for help, Giovanni blames Leporello. Anna, Elvira, and Ottavio take off their masks and, along with Zerlina and Masetto, accuse Giovanni, who is momentarily surprised but manages to slip away.
Having exchanged clothes with Giovanni, Leporello takes Elvira on a night-time walk, leaving his master free to serenade her maid. When Masetto arrives with a band of peasants to hunt down Giovanni, the disguised Don sends them off in various directions, then beats up Masetto. Zerlina finds her bruised fiancé and comforts him.
Later that night, Leporello—still believed by Elvira to be Giovanni—is surprised by Anna, Ottavio, Zerlina, and Masetto, who all denounce the supposed Don. Fearing for his life, Leporello reveals his true identity before making his escape. Ottavio proclaims that he will take revenge on Giovanni and asks the others to look after Anna. Elvira thinks about Giovanni, whom she still loves in spite of everything.
In a cemetery, Giovanni and Leporello meet the statue of the Commendatore, who warns Giovanni that by morning he will laugh no longer. Giovanni forces the terrified Leporello to invite the statue to dinner. The statue accepts.
Once again, Ottavio asks Anna to marry him, but she replies that she will not until her father’s death has been avenged.
Elvira arrives at Giovanni’s palace and makes a last desperate attempt to persuade him to change his life, but he only laughs at her. The figure of the Commendatore enters and asks Giovanni to repent. When he boldly refuses he is consumed by flames. Elvira, Anna, Ottavio, Zerlina, Masetto, and Leporello appear, contemplating their futures and the fate of an immoral man.