My second opera trip ended up in…Palma de Mallorca. Not the obvious choice, but I happened to be visiting my best friend over there and thought, let’s just see what’s on. It turned out to be Don Giovanni.
First of all, Don Giovanni is not for amateurs. It’s long (goes on for nearly 4 hours) and it’s tedious at the best of times (I closed my eyes and dozed off a few times, like a pro). Nevertheless, it’s a staple of operatic repertoire and if you’re open minded plus have enough coffee beforehand, it will be worth it.
Don Giovanni was composed by Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart and first performed in 1787 and it remains one of the most popular opera pieces performed around the world. Personally, I do recommend going to a well known opera house if you’re doing this one for the first time, as I find it hard to endure. But if the singers, orchestra and set design are top notch, you’ll make the most of the experience.
Palma's Teatre Principal a theatre and arts centre, not strictly an opera dedicated place. I have to be honest, the production did feel quite basic and also overly modernised, which I’m not that keen on. And as for the soloists, they were decent, but I’ve certainly heard better. Still, I can never get enough of Mozart and I always anxiously await the last scene (or the penultimate to be precise). Not just because it’s nearly the last one in the 4 hour marathon, but it’s the most epic and memorable part of the whole opera.
Storyline in a nutshell: Don Giovanni is a womanizer and heartbreaker. His character is loosely based on Don Juan, the famous fictional Spanish seducer who made every woman cry. After a flirt (well, possibly more) with Anna, Don Giovanni is confronted by the father of the girl, but the Don kills him in a duel. And that’s just the first scene. The daughter then pledges to revenge her father’s death and that’s what the whole opera revolves around.
Now, let’s just fast forward to the last scene. It’s when Don Giovanni finally gets avenged by the ghost figure of Il Commandatore, the father. I’ve found a fantastic clip of this goose-bump moment, watch below.
Published on Youtube by Tymachos
Do bear in mind, I’m writing the shortest summary ever of this opera as the libretto is much more complicated and might feel a bit like a Columbian telenovela if you dig deeper. I also came across this cartoon explaining it in a superbly simplified way, so give it a go if you seem daunted by the storyline.
Credit: The Dallas Opera
Coming back to Palma. The Teatre Principal does a mix of theatre and arts productions but also operas and ballets. It has a 800 seat capacity, so it’s not the biggest, but let’s not forget we are on an island. It’s great that they have a place where people can enjoy Mozart without having to fly to mainland Spain. The theatre has been going strong since 1667 initially known as the House of Comedies and it was later re-inaugurated in 1857. The story goes that soon after they performed Macbeth as one of their first plays in 1858, the theatre was completely destroyed by fire. But it’s doing fine in 2019.
By the way, operas tend to have the most ridiculous librettos (in layman’s terms it’s the script for the opera). And if you think about it, it’s a fairly odd concept people singing at you for a few hours about love, revenge, cheating and then 99% someone dies in the end. On that note, I’m off to the Royal Opera House next to see Frankenstein.