Relayed from the National Museum of Wales
National Orchestra of Wales
When Mozart's 'Figaro' was produced in Prague in 1876, it was so pronounced and immediate a success that the authorities at once asked him to write them another opera. 'Don Giovanni' was the chosen work, and Mozart composed the music in Prague itself within little more than a month. Much of it was written in the vineyard of an old friend, and they still show you a little stone table at which Mozart sat writing, often while talk was going on round him or even while skittles was being played in the open air.
The day before the date fixed for the first performance, the Overture had not even been begun. Mozart finished it during the night, and by seven in the morning his MS. was handed out for copying, and the Overture was played that evening without rehearsal. It bears no trace of such hasty work; full of his own inimitable brightness and grace, it has always held a place of honour among the great masterpieces.
The introduction, in solemn measure, is taken from the music of the last act, where the statue of the Governor, slain by Giovanni in the course of one of his intrigues, comes at the Don's invitation to sup with him. And, though the main body of the Overture is made up of melodies which trip along on dainty, graceful feet, there is ever and anon a heavy-handed reminder of stern destiny. This theme is only two bars long, but Mozart uses it in a most interesting way, the voices of the orchestra imitating one another impressively; the effect of the whole Overture is a wonderfully complete picture of the bustle and gaiety of the lighter moments of the opera, with the shadow of the final tragedy hanging over it.