This season the major production by the Opera Program of the San Francisco Conservatory of Music (SFCM) will be Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart’s K. 527, Don Giovanni. First performed in Prague in 1787, Don Giovanni is the second of the three operas that Mozart composed based on libretti by Lorenzo Da Ponte. The original full title was l dissoluto punito, ossia il Don Giovanni (the rake punished or Don Giovanni). The name is the Italian version of the legendary character Don Juan; and Da Ponte probably drew upon the first written version of the legend by Tirso de Molina and possibly the play by Molière, which most likely also drew upon the Spanish source. Projecting into the future, Mozart’s opera inspired the literary works of E. T. A. Hoffmann, Alexander Pushkin, and George Bernard Shaw, as well as the philosophical writings of Søren Kierkegaard and Albert Camus.
The subsequent impact of the opera is due in part to Mozart describing it as a “drama giocoso,” suggesting that the story behind the opera is neither tragic (dramma) nor comic (giocoso). Those who read Aristotle may disagree with this classification. Aristotle argued that comedy differs from tragedy because (in Leon Golden’s translation of Aristotle’s “Poetics”) “the former takes as its goal the representation of men as worse, the latter as better, than the norm.” One can make a case that every character in Don Giovanni is flawed in at least one critical way, meaning that Aristotle would have classified the opera a comedy, no questions asked.
The SFCM production will be staged by Jose Maria Condemi, who seems more inclined to follow Mozart’s point of view. He has stated that his production “will explore both the light-hearted tones of the story as well as the darker forces within it.” The sets will be designed by Steven Kemp and the costumes by Ulises Alcala. SFCM Orchestral Music Director Scott Sandmeier will conduct members of the Conservatory Orchestra.
This production will be given two performances. The first will begin at 7:30 p.m. on Friday, April 1, followed by a 2 p.m. matinee on Sunday, April 3. The opera will be presented in the original Italian with English supertitles. The performances will take place in the Caroline H. Hume Concert Hall. Tickets are $20 for general admission and $15 for students, seniors, and Conservatory members. SFCM is located at 50 Oak Street, a short walk from the Van Ness Muni station; and the Box Office is in the entrance lobby. The Box Office can also be called at 415-503-6275 or reached through electronic mail.