Teacher Resources for Don Giovanni

Students who attended the Great Works Student Matinee performance were asked to write reviews of the performance and submit them to Opera Cleveland for judging. We have selected the two that we believe are the most well-written for publication here on our website. Congratulations to everyone who entered, and special thanks to all the teachers who submitted their students’ reviews.

First Place, High School Division

Mike Basista, Lowellville High School
Teacher: Chrystin Ritter
“They’re my first necessity of life, more than the bread that feeds me, or the air that I am breathing.” Even though Don Giovanni is interjecting his yearning for women in this statement, I believe it pertains to operas in general. Experiences a classical masterpiece, such as Don Giovanni, should be a necessity in life. This composition enlightens its audience through its music, acting, and set design. With its exceptionally well-told story line, made very perceptible by Opera Cleveland, Don Giovanni will have first time opera-goers coming back for more.
The music in Don Giovanni is enthralling. The first thing I noticed when walking into the striking theater was the “pit.” I was flabbergasted by the various musical instruments present. Having been enrolled in a small school, it was remarkable to see the diversity the instruments had to offer and how they worked; instruments that one wouldn’t see in a marching band. From that moment on, my demeanor towards the play was filled with optimism. Listening to the music ensemble’s dramatic entrance into the opera made me envision that I was in a whole different environment, something that cannot be accomplished in a classroom alone. The way the music accompanied the expression set forth by the cast amplified my musical awareness. Bottom line: the orchestra enhanced my viewing pleasure.

Opera Cleveland’s production of Don Giovanni couldn’t have gone any smoother. Its audience members consisted of mostly first time opera-goers. Their expectations were high. Judging by the mute, converged (sic) atmosphere during the performance, I believe this masterpiece was a hit amongst students. Don Giovanni’s success should be credited to its phenomenal cast. Right from the get-go, it was evident how passionate the actors and actresses were to put on a performance. I was bewildered by the level of acting these cast members portrayed. It was definitely a step up from high school productions. The characteristic tone the cast possessed when singing was as marvelous as Mozart’s score. Attending this event was an exhilarating experience.

A good theater work needs an attention grabber. Opera Cleveland passed this test with flying colors. The stage design for Don Giovanni was majestically eye-catching. The use of symbolism, such as the demented figure walking across the stage, made a great, interactive discussion on different viewpoints amongst audience members. The flow of items used in and out of the set was flawless. What surprised me was how easily the props painted a better picture of the performance in my mind. The use of houses, light fixtures, and furniture furthered my understanding of the opera. The vivid lighting created a dramatic yet lively tone.

As humorous as the end of Opera Cleveland’s Don Giovanni was, it is no joke that Opera Cleveland is high on the list of renowned opera houses. Its performance of Don Giovanni made an imprint on students’ minds. Its music created the fabric of the classical era. Ravishing performances were projected by its actors and actresses. The stage design dazzled everybody in attendance. I will remember Opera Cleveland’s Don Giovanni, not only because it was the first opera I have witnessed, but [because] it generated a whole different world where I felt jubilant and invigorated.

First Place, Middle School Division

Katie Vaughn, St. Charles School
Music Teacher: Carey Perkins

On October 28, 2009 my class and I went to go see Don Giovanni by Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart at the State Theater in Cleveland, Ohio.

The person who I like most was Zerlina. I thought she had a wonderful voice. Even though sometimes she didn’t sing in full voice because she was sick, I could still hear her. I also thought that her acting was very excellent. The person who I liked the least was Don Ottavio. I couldn’t understand his words, although they were in Italian. I thought that his volume was poor. His acting was fine though. I loved the music the orchestra played. The music made the dramatic parts even more dramatic by building up tension through the music.

What I liked about the sets was that they were very creative. It was cool how Don Giovanni went into a hole in the wall when he was going down [to hell]. What I didn’t like about that is that he just walked into the hole. I thought that the people on the stage would drag him down. I didn’t like how the Commendatore was made into a statue. I would have like it better if he actually got up, walked, and took Don Giovanni’s hand instead of Don Giovanni just reaching towards a tall statute that looked like a man in a tree.

The scene I liked best was during Leporello’s aria when he is telling Donna Elvira how many girls Don Giovanni has gone through. How many, you ask? “In Italy, six hundred forty. In Germany, two hundred and thirty-one. A hundred in France. In Turkey ninety-one. And in Spain, already one thousand and three.” I liked this scene because it was funny and entertaining.

My overall grade is a B. I thought it was well written and well performed but some scenes weren’t as moving as others. The seats were magnificent! The view of the stage from where we were sitting was astonishing. The only problem was that some one was kicking my seat about halfway through the opera.