Rape, murder, love and vengence in two acts

Don Giovanni, Vienna 1972 © Elisabeth Hausmann/Bundestheater
Don Giovanni, Vienna 1972 © Elisabeth Hausmann/Bundestheater

“The opera is divine, but such music is not meat for the teeth of my Viennese.” Such were the words with which Emperor Joseph II characterized Mozart’s opera “Don Giovanni” in 1877 according to the librettist Lorenzo Da Ponte. And divine it is. Mozart is said to have replied to Da Ponte: “Give them time to chew on it.” Two centuries later the Viennese, who initially reacted lukewarm to the opera, as well as the rest of the world has had time to chew on it. It is one of the most popular and most performed operas ever. So what is the magical formula behind this stunning success?

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