Don Giovanni Synopsis




Anna, Elvira, Ottavio, Zerlina, and Masetto are informed by Leporello that Giovanni has been dragged down to eternal damnation by the Commendatore. Ottavio and Anna agree to marry in a year’s time; Elvira announces her intention of retiring to a convent; Zerlina and Masetto plan a cosy supper at home; Leporello thinks of looking for a new and better master. They address the audience with the moral of the story, that all evildoers end this way: sinners get their just deserts in the long run. What has brought all this about?


A city of Spain: a garden; the Commendatore’s town house. Night.

Leporello grumbles about waiting around in the cold while his master Don Giovanni is engaged indoors. Giovanni, masked, appears, pursued by Donna Anna and her father the Commendatore who is killed in the ensuing duel, after which Giovanni and his servant escape. Donna Anna returns from summoning the servants to find her father dead, and swears vengeance.


A street.

Leporello half-heartedly attempts to make Giovanni give up his obsessive pursuit of women, when Giovanni declares he can smell a woman approaching. They hide: it is Donna Elvira, who was abandoned in Burgos by Giovanni her lover (in some versions her fiance or husband) . Giovanni moves to console her before he recognizes her. He retreats hastily, leaving Leporello to ’console’ her with the Catalogue aria in which he enumerates by country the Don’s women - 2065 so far. Elvira swears revenge.

The country near Don Giovanni’s mansion.


A rustic wedding is in progress between Zerlina and Masetto.

Leporello and the Don enter: the Don immediately begins to flirt with Zerlina and orders Leporello to take everybody else "especially Masetto" to the villa for an impromptu feast. Giovanni offers to marry Zerlina immediately. Zerlina is almost ready to acquiesce when Elvira appears and takes Zerlina away. Don Ottavio arrives with Donna Anna in mourning. Anna asks Giovanni as a nobleman to help find her father’s murderer. Elvira returns with a warning. Elvira and Giovanni exit just as Anna recognizes him as her attacker and the killer of her father. Anna and Ottavio depart; Giovanni and Leporello plan the party, looking forward to adding at least ten to the catalogue.


Don Giovanni’s garden.

Masetto is furious with Zerlina; she placates him. Giovanni renews the attack while Masetto hides. Three masked figures enter: Donna Anna, Ottavio, and Elvira; Leporello invites them to the party.


A room, lit and prepared for a great ball. The party is in progress.

The masked strangers enter and dance while Giovanni dances with Zerlina; Leporello dances with Masetto. Giovanni leads Zerlina away; Leporello follows; she screams for help; Giovanni emerges dragging Leporello whom he claims is the offender; no-one is deceived; the revellers unmask and threaten their host.



A street: Donna Elvira’s house on one side.

Leporello wants to quit Giovanni’s service but is bribed to remain. Giovanni now has his eye on Elvira’s maid, and exchanges cloaks with Leporello, all the better to woo her with. Elvira appears; Giovanni calls on her to come to him, he is now repentant. Leporello disguised as Giovanni leads her away while Giovanni serenades the maid. Masetto and his friends arrive in search of Giovanni, who, disguised as Leporello, send them off on a wild goose chase, then assaults Masetto and runs away. Zerlina helps Masetto to his feet and promises him a better cure for his wounds than any chemist can prescribe.


The entrance courtyard of Donna Anna’s house.

Leporello has been unable to shake off Elvira; Anna and Ottavio appear; Leporello tries to slip out but Zerlina and Masetto confront him believing him to be the Don. Elvira begs their mercy; Leporello, taking no chances, flings off his disguise and escapes. Ottavio follows to avenge the murder of Anna’s father.


A graveyard, with equestrian monuments including that of the Commendatore. Moonlight.

Giovanni and Leporello meet and re-exchange cloaks. Giovanni boasts of his exploits since they parted, which includeLeporello’s current sweetheart; he laughs; he is rebuked by a voice which seems to come from the statue of the Commendatore: by dawn you will have laughed for the last time. Giovanni is amused and invites the statue to supper. Leporello is terrified. The statue nods its head in acceptance.


A room in Donna Anna’s house.

Ottavio suggests to Anna that they should now marry. Anna insists on a longer period of mourning.


A lighted reception room in Don Giovanni’s house; a table is laid for a meal.

Giovanni is seated at supper; Leporello waits on him; musicians play. Elvira rushes in and implores Giovanni to change his ways before it is too late. He pays no heed. She screams; Giovanni sends Leporello to see what frightened her; Leporello himself screams and hides under the table. The man of stone is approaching. A loud knock is heard; Giovanni admits the statue and requests Leporello to lay another place for the stone guest. But the statue has come to invite Giovanni to quite another meal. "Give me your hand upon it" says the statue, and his grip upon Giovanni brings the chill of the grave into the room. The statue orders Giovanni to repent. He courageously, even nobly, refuses to change his ways. The flames of hell engulf him.