Don Giovanni is a long one-act for four men and three women. On the upstage side of the upper platform of the unit set is a balcony reached by a trellis, the bottom of which can be seen through a central arch under the platform Steps left and right lead to the upper platform. At the top of the SR steps is a door that opens into a bedroom; at the top of the SL steps is a window frame from which Don Giovanni can talk to Leporello in the street below. The lower level is the street and the inside of a house represented by a table and chairs left and a bench right. A trapdoor down center goes to the basement of the house and to Hell. There are escape stairs on the upper platform left and right.
We hear the opening notes of the overture to Mozart’s Don Giovanni as lights come up and Leporello speaks to the audience about working for Don Giovanni who, he says, is going to hell for sleeping with so many women. Don Giovanni asks him if he has been talking to an invisible friend and says that they have to climb up the trellis to Donna Anna’s bedroom. He says that his only sin is that he loves too much. Leporello warns Don Giovanni about Donna Anna’s father, the Commendatore, but Don Giovanni puts on a mask and starts climbing the trellis. Complaining to the audience, Leporello follows and we hear the first bars of “La chi darem la mano” as the lights come up on Donna Anna’s bedroom. Don Giovanni and Leporello are hiding as Donna Anna and her maid Zerlina enter. Donna Anna complains that her father keeps her locked up tighter than an oyster and says that sometimes she prays that a handsome man in a mask would climb up on the balcony, hide behind the curtains, then leap out and make passionate love to her. Don Giovanni says her prayers have been answered, but Leporello warns them that Donna Anna’s father has just returned. The Commendatore climbs the steps to the door and pounds on it because Zerlina has locked it. The women tell him they are naked; the father threatens to break open the door; Donna Anna kisses Don Giovanni as the father does break through the door, drawing his sword and chasing Don Giovanni around the room. When the father falls and drops his sword, Don Giovanni grabs it and the Commendatore, lunging toward him, is run through. He vows to come back from the grave and drag Don Giovanni to Hell. The lights fade as Don Giovanni and Leporello climb down the trellis, the Commendatore dies, and we hear “Or sai chi lo’onore.”
On the street level, Don Giovanni tells a distraught Leporello that they have to leave. After Don Giovanni climbs the steps, telling Leporello to hurry, Leporello tells the audience that he doesn’t understand why women fall into bed with Don Giovanni and not with him. He concludes that life is a joke and death is the punch line. Donna Elvira enters and asks him where her husband, Don Giovanni, is. Leporello tells her that the man she thought was a priest was a horse doctor from Barcelona. Donna Elvira shakes Leporello like a rag doll, but he insists that Don Giovanni is dead, until Don Giovanni sticks his head out the upstairs window, yelling for him. Donna Elvira runs up the steps, embracing Don Giovanni until they fall on the bed. Leporello runs up the steps and we hear the sound of an angry mob approaching as Leporello drags Don Giovanni, with Donna Elvira hanging on, to the balcony. The mob sounds get louder as the light fades and we hear “Non mi dir.”
Light with the shadows of bars then come up down center on Don Giovanni, Leporello, and an old man who turns out to be Casanova. Don Giovanni assures Leporello that something always turns up to get them out of difficulties like prison. Introducing himself, Casanova tells Leporellothat men are unsuccessful with women because they do not fully appreciate them. Donna Elvira, having bribed the jailer, comes in and hits Casanova for propositioning her. He looks for his teeth as the others leave and we hear “Viva la liberta.”
The next scene occurs at night, with thunder, lightning, and rain. A statue of the Commendatore has been set up in the arch of a cemetery tomb under the platform. Leporello tells Don Giovanni that they are in the Commendatore’s tomb, but Don Giovanni tries to explain to Leporello that he loves all the women he has encountered. Leporello thinks the statue has moved and Don Giovanni invites the statue to come to dinner with him and his daughter at the next full moon. But, as Don Giovanni turns away from the statue to drink, the statue speaks: “As you desire.” Leporelloscreams and as he and Don Giovanni leave, the statue slowly lifts an arm with a clenched fist, shouting: “KILL, KILL, KILL, KILLLLL, KILLLLLLLLLLLLLL.” The lights fade and we hear “Bisogna aver coraggio.”
In moonlight, Don Giovanni and Leporello have climbed the trellis to the balcony and are sneaking into Donna Anna’s bedroom when they are met by Zerlina who tells them that Donna Anna has been having dreadful nightmares. Don Giovanni goes down the steps and finds Donna Anna sitting in a rocking chair, blaming herself for her father’s death. Don Giovanni says that her father had no right to imprison her, kisses her tenderly, and persuades her to eat some soup. We hear “A cener teco m’invitasti” as the lights fade.
In moonlight we see Donna Elvira climbing up the trellis with a knife and hiding behind the curtains as Leporello enters telling Zerlina that he believes Don Giovanni is a changed man because he is taking care of Donna Anna without having sex with her. Rejecting Leporello’s offer of marriage, Zerlina warns him that Donna Anna may remember that Don Giovanni killed her father. Noticing the full moon, Leporello tells Zerlina that the statue of the Commendatore is coming to dinner and will drag Don Giovanni down to Hell. Entering below, Don Giovanni refuses to leave because for the first time in his life he is truly in love. Donna Anna enters with a box of wooden puppets she has carved. Donna Elvira looks down on them from the balcony, noticing how tender Don Giovanni is with Donna Anna but still resolved to kill him. She descends the steps, telling Donna Anna that she is Don Giovanni’s wife, twice ruined and abandoned by him. We hear the sound of three loud knocks and Zerlina says that someone is at the back door. Three louder knocks prompt Leporello to urge Don Giovanni to run away. Don Giovanni admits to Donna Anna that he killed her father by accident. He says he is sorry and loves her. Knocking continues as Zerlina goes through the upstage arch and Leporello gets down on the floor trying to locate the trap door. Zerlina screams and runs in saying that the statue is walking. The statue appears as Leporelloopens the trap door. Don Giovanni asks forgiveness of the statue and they shake hands, but the statue continues holding Don Giovanni’s hand as they descend the steps of the trap where a red glow is shining up. Don Giovanni grabs Leporello and pulls him down the steps as we hear groans of pain and horror mixed with distorted music from the last scene of Mozart’s opera. Zerlina slams the trap door shut and drags Donna Elvira away from it. Donna Anna opens the trap saying that there’s nothing left but ashes and a little pile of bones. All three women look into the trap. When Donna Elvira asks what they are going to do, Donna Anna says that they can have a puppet show with the naked puppets singing opera. Lights fade on them and we hear the last measures of the opera.