Don Giovanni - Synopsis
Lorenzo da Ponte
The Commendatore's Death or Unwelcome Side Effects
Don Giovanni's servant Leporello is keeping watch while his master tries to seduce a woman. He complains about his working conditions. Don Giovanni is chased by Donna Anna, what has passed between them remains unclear. Anna tries to hold him back and unmask his true identity. The Commendatore, Anna's father, appears on the scene, accuses Giovanni of having dishonoured his daughter and challenges him to a duel. Giovanni kills the Commendatore, he and Leporello escape. When Anna returns with her fiancé Don Ottavio, she finds her father dead. She makes her fiancé swear to take bloody revenge.
Elvira or Yesterday's Tears
Giovanni throws Leporello's admonitions about his way of life to the winds. His desire is aroused by an unknown lady travelling alone. She is in search of a lover, who has walked out on her and whom she wishes to kill. As Giovanni approaches her, he recognizes her for Donna Elvira, a woman he left some time ago. He evades her accusations, leaving her with Leporello, who opens her eyes: She was not Giovanni's first conquest, and will not be his last. In great detail and with obvious enjoyment, Leporello reveals the long list of Giovanni's affairs.
Zerlina or Newfound Happiness
On the eve of their wedding, Zerlina and Masetto are celebrating with their friends. The cheerful party is disturbed by Giovanni's appearance. Talking sweetly to Zerlina and threatening Masetto, he runs off with the bride. Meanwhile Leporello leads an enraged Masetto and the guests to Giovanni's castle, where they are promised an extraordinary party. Alone with Zerlina, Giovanni disperses her doubts and pangs of conscience, proposes to her and almost succeeds in reaching his goal.
When Women Meet
Elvira intrudes on their tête-à-tête and informs Zerlina about Giovanni's lying and cheating. Giovanni unexpectedly runs into Donna Anna and Don Ottavio, who are looking for the Commendatore's murderer. Again, Elvira intrudes and tries to warn Anna against Giovanni. Giovanni declares Elvira to be insane, but Elvira's lamentations arouse Anna's and Ottavio's compassion. The tone of Giovanni’s hypocritical words leads Anna to recognize her father's murderer, the man she encountered the previous night. Ottavio urges her to tell him the details of what happened. Recalling the traumatic night, Anna manages to keep Ottavio's rising jealousy in check and commit him to her plans of revenge.
Pleasure That Knows No Limits
Zerlina apologizes to Masetto. Her remorse and seductive charms quickly restore the couple's happiness, but Masetto remains suspicious and decides to keep an eye on Zerlina during the party. Zerlina is afraid of meeting Don Giovanni again. Don Ottavio, who wants to bring Giovanni to justice, sneaks into the party with Donna Anna and Donna Elvira, all wearing masks. Giovanni greets the unexpected guests and declares that any rules and limitations are suspended for the night. While the dancing continues, Giovanni once more manages to lure Zerlina away. But when she screams, the others rush to her rescue. When Giovanni tries to put the blame on Leporello, Don Ottavio, Donna Anna and Donna Elvira drop their masks and threaten him. Giovanni is cornered, but quickly regains the upper hand. With his incredible audacity, he paralyses his pursuers and escapes.
A Comedy of Errors or Changing Identities
Giovanni continues to look for erotic adventures as if nothing had happened.
He exchanges clothes with Leporello. In the person of Giovanni, Leporello is supposed to try and seduce Elvira, while Giovanni chases a nameless maid. Leporello, who had intended to leave Don Giovanni, is persuaded with the help of money. Giovanni successfully entices Elvira with his song.
Heavily armed, Masetto and a number of his friends run into Giovanni, the man they are actually looking for, but because of the disguise take him for Leporello. Giovanni sends Masetto's friends away, instructing them to circle the supposed Giovanni, strips Masetto of his weapons and almost beats him to death. Zerlina tends Masetto's wounds.
Struggling to elude Elvira's caresses under cover of the night, Leporello encounters Anna, Ottavio, Masetto and Zerlina. Everybody believes they have finally caught Giovanni. Elvira's pleas to spare her husband are to no avail. Leporello clarifies the situation, reveals his true identity and narrowly escapes the others' blows.
In the Realm of the Dead
While Giovanni and Leporello reunite on the cemetery and the master brags about his amorous adventures, they hear the voice of the murdered Commendatore, urging them to leave this sacred place and let the dead rest in peace. Laughing, Giovanni asks a frightened Leporello to invite the Commendatore to dinner. The voice from the afterworld accepts the invitation.
Sighs in the Night
Don Ottavio once again offers to comfort Donna Anna and laments his rejected love. At first, Anna is angry, but then she reassures him by telling him that so shortly after her father's death she was unable to commit herself and that it would take some time before she could open her heart to him.
A Lonely Supper or Every Man Dies Alone
Giovanni orders the food to be served and eats with insatiable hunger. Elvira appears uninvited. She accepts that Giovanni does not return her love, but wants to save him from demise and implores him to change his life. When he only laughs at her, she runs for the door, where she meets the Commendatore, risen from the grave. There is a knock on the door, and Giovanni orders Leporello to open. Frightened to death, Leporello reports that the dead man has indeed followed the invitation. The guest challenges Giovanni to return his visit. Giovanni accepts and in confirmation of his promise shakes the Commendatore by the hand, the coldness of which spells his imminent death. The Commendatore offers Giovanni one last chance to repent his deeds and thus save his soul. Even though he suffers immense turmoil, Giovanni proudly and stubbornly refuses to do so. As he is consumed by the flames of hell, a scream escapes his lips, telling of his last pleasure or first fear.
Epilogue or The Happiness of Those Remaining Behind
Ottavio, Anna, Elvira, Masetto and Zerlina arrive, wanting to arrest Giovanni for his murder. When Leporello recounts the terrible things he has seen, they realize they have come too late. They are quick to condemn the deceased villain. Before they part, they tell each other their plans for life after Giovanni.