The history of the building at 7101 Apple St. could fuel a year’s worth of cocktail parties and trivia nights. Built in 1894, the mansion was purchased by William “Woogie” Harris, a numbers man and Charles “Teenie” Harris’ uncle, in 1930, at the height of the Depression. Situated on the border of North Homewood and Lincoln-Lemington-Belmar, it served as a guesthouse for famous black athletes and performers who were barred from Pittsburgh’s segregated hotels and was a gathering place for black Pittsburghers. Remarkable people passed through its doors: Lena Horne, Roberto Clemente, Ahmad Jamal, Robert McFerrin Sr., Sarah Vaughn, Satchell Paige, Josh Gibson, Billy Eckstein, Count Basie. The Neighborhood Opera Company presents ‘The Don’s Fire: Mozart’s Giovanni’ When: 8 p.m. Saturday, 2 p.m.
Thank you to Elizabeth Bloom for covering our production!
The Story of Don Giovanni
Don Giovanni is an opera in two acts with music by Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart and Italian libretto by Lorenzo Da Ponte. It is based on the legends of Don Juan, a fictional libertine and seducer. It was premiered by the Prague Italian opera at the Teatro di Praga on October 29, 1787. Da Ponte’s libretto was billed, like many of its time, as dramma giocoso, a term that denotes a mixing of serious and comic action. Mozart entered the work into his catalogue as an opera buffa. Although sometimes classified as comic, it blends comedy, melodrama and supernatural elements. The opera was commissioned as a result of the overwhelming success of Mozart’s trip to Prague in January and February of 1787. Don Giovanni was originally to have been performed on 15 October 1787 however, the production could not be prepared in time and Le Nozze di Figaro was substituted instead on the order of the emperor himself. The score was completed on 28 October 1787 after Da Ponte was recalled to Vienna to work on another opera. Reports about the last-minute completion of the overture conflict; some say it was completed the day before the premiere, some on the very day. More likely it was completed the day before, in light of the fact that Mozart recorded the completion of the opera on 28 October. The opera was first performed on 29 October 1787 in Prague under its full title of Il Dissoluto Punito ossia il Don Giovanni – Dramma giocoso in due atti (The Rake punished, or Don Giovanni, a humorous drama in two acts). The work was rapturously received, as was often true of Mozart’s work in Prague. Prague reported, “Connoisseurs and musicians say that Prague has never heard the like,” and “the opera … is extremely difficult to perform.” Vienna reported, “Herr Mozart conducted in person and was welcomed joyously and jubilantly by the numerous gathering.” Mozart also supervised the Vienna premiere of the work, which took place on 7 May 1788. For this production, he wrote two new arias with corresponding recitatives – Don Ottavio’s aria “Dalla sua pace” (composed on April 24 for the tenor Francesco Morella), Elvira’s aria “In quali eccessi … Mi tradì quell’alma ingrata” (composed on April 30 for the soprano Caterina Cavalieri) – and the duet between Leporello and Zerlina “Per queste tue manine” (composed on 28 April).
The Neighborhood Opera Company’s production of this opera, now called The Don’s Fire: Mozart’s Giovanni, seeks to present this classic masterpiece in a contemporary setting, telling the story of the Don, a seducer or in modern language, a player. This term describes a male who is skilled at manipulating “playing” others, and especially at seducing women by pretending to care about them, when in reality they are only interested in sex. It is possibly derived from the phrases “playing one for a fool”, or “playing one like a violin”. Don Giovanni’s demise supports the notion that actions have consequences. Though, in this production it is important to note that perhaps Don Giovanni is the single character who remains true to himself throughout the drama. And though he has a tragic end, all of the other characters that surround him are troubled, filled with mixed motives. They struggle to find their own psychological balance and alignment. The stories timelessness makes it possible to bring this magnificent score to life once again in a compelling and satisfying way.
This performance of The Don’s Fire is generously sponsored by
The Pittsburgh Foundation and Jack Kerr
Thank you so much to our sponsors for helping to make this production a reality.