Music with Ease > Classical Music > Concert Guide: Classical Era > Overture to "Don Giovanni" - Mozart
Overture to "Don Giovanni"
Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart
"Don Giovanni," an opera buffa, the text by Da Ponte, was written, with the exception of the overture, in the short space of six weeks. The overture was composed in a single evening. The opera was first produced in 1787, the year of its composition, at Prague. As been said of the story of "The Marriage of Figaro," the adventures of the licentious Don Giovanni while in pursuit of Donna Anna, Donna Elvira, and Zerlina, and his righteous punishment after his supper at the bands of the statue, which consigns him to the friends of the infernal regions, is too well known to need full description. The overture, unlike that of "The Marriage of Figaro," is clearly identified with the opera by the impressive trombone chords thrice repeated in the opening Andante, which appear in the finale of the second act, in which the statue comes to Don Giovanni's banquet, as well as by the weird modulations in the violins, the strange harmonies accompanying the statue's warnings, and the muffled roll of drums announcing the fate of the reckless, dissolute hero. The main section of the overture is an Allegro, and in this the themes are not borrowed from the opera. The first theme begins immediately in the violins with a tremolo in the violas and cellos, to which the first violins reply, with vigorous phrases in the wind instruments. After the development of this material the second theme appears, beginning with chords for full orchetra, followed by a tender melody in oboe and clarinet and closing with a passage for full orchestra. The third theme begins in all the strings and wood winds, and after its developement the first part of the movement closes in an animated manner. The free fantasia consist of an elaborate working out of the third theme, The Coda begins in the strings and woodwinds, and, as originally written, leads to the first scene in the opera, though several concert endings have been written for it.