|Detail of the face of Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart by Johann Nepomuk della Croce, 1780|
In truth Mozart was concerned for the opening night of his opera but, having already been postponed twice, there was no way that the performance could be set back again. Frantically making adjustments and amendments right up until the moment that the overture began, even Lorenzo da Ponte's libretto was subject to improvisations, tweaks and changes even as was being performed. The composer struggled with unprepared performers and an orchestra who would not see the full score until the night of the premiere and yet, when it came to the moment of truth, the pieces fell effortlessly into place seemingly effortlessly, giving no hint of the frantic rush to complete the work.
|Lorenzo da Ponte by Nathaniel Rogers (engraving by Michele Pekenino)|
Tickets for Il Dissoluto Punito ossia il Don Giovanni (The Rake Punished, or Don Giovanni), were the hottest of the year and anybody who was anybody gathered at theatre on that autumn evening, anticipation at a height for what promised to be a sensational show. With Mozart's composition seemingly all the chattering classes could think about for weeks before curtain, crowds had turned out in force to besiege the box office in the hope of securing one of 800 tickets, creating a tide of people through which those lucky enough to have a seat were forced to pick their way.
Mozart himself was due to conduct the opera and when he took up position in the orchestra pit the cheers went on and on, the composer rapturously received before so much as a note had been played or sung. Eventually the performance began on schedule at 7.00pm amid all the ribaldry and excitement that we Georgians were known for when visiting the theatre, creating what must have been a heady night indeed. The show ended at around 9.30pm to an ovation and the delighted audience went their merry way, some stopping at the box office to purchase a copy of the libretto, a shrewd bit of early merchandising!
|The Stavovské Divaldo (Estates Theatre) in Prague|
Reviews for Don Giovanni were rapturous and Mozart was once again the toast of Prague as tickets flew from the box office. Mozart eventually left the city for Vienna and a new project but Prague remained dear to his heart and the city, to this day, celebrates its links with the legendary composer.
To find out more about Mozart's musically talented sister, do click here!