Plácido Domingo prepares to conduct anniversary Don Giovanni performance in Prague

Plácido Domingo, photo: ČTK

The renowned Spanish tenor Plácido Domingo is in Prague, readying himself to conduct two performances of Mozart’s Don Giovanni staged on the occasion of the 230th anniversary of the premiere of this opera in 1787.

Simone Alberghini,  photo: ČTK
The performances of Don Giovanni are taking place at the Estates Theatre, or Stavovské divadlo, on October 27 and 29. This is the very theatre at which the composer Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart conducted the world premiere of his famous work. The Oscar-winning 1984 film Amadeus, directed by Miloš Forman, contains numerous scenes filmed at the site, the last standing theatre in which Mozart performed.

Plácido Domingo won’t be singing – rather, the main role of Don Giovanni will be performed by Italian baritone Simone Alberghini. Speaking to the press at the theatre ahead of the shows, Alberghini referenced Prague-based Italian operatic baritone Luigi Bassi, the man for whom Mozart originally wrote his classic opera:

“Working with Maestro Domingo, and with the wonderful colleagues (here) is very emotional to actually think that 230 years ago Luigi Bassi was here creating this role. And I have lived in Pesaro, Italy, for ten years. And he was from Pesaro too. So I hope that this will help me to be up to the task of performing Don Giovanni here in this amazing environment.”

Plácido Domingo,  photo: ČTK
Meanwhile, Plácido Domingo was given an opportunity to view an original score of the opera – the very same used by Mozart to conduct the premiere performance 230 years ago. The score, which contains hand-written notes by Mozart, is on loan from the Prague Conservatory, and can be viewed at the theatre until Sunday.

Reflecting on the occasion, the 76-year-old Domingo expressed his delight at the opportunity to conduct Don Giovanni in Prague:

“The time is arriving. We have been dreaming about Don Giovanni since we talked with (Czech co-producer Gabriela Boháčová) several years ago. The itineraries of the theatre, the singers, and myself meant that we were not able to do it before. But here we are.”

The performances will also be filmed by Czech Television, with a documentary film of the project also in production. Plácido Domingo also spoke of the personal sense of honour of being able to serve as conductor for this historic occasion:

The Estates Theatre,  photo: Khalil Baalbaki,  Czech Radio
“It is a very emotional feeling to be able to conduct Mozart’s masterpiece Don Giovanni. If we can just go back 230 years, and think that Mozart was right here... All the difficulties of travelling, and all the problems (of that time) and here we are today, arriving just the day before yesterday. And being able to have an extraordinary orchestra, and a phenomenal cast. I am so looking forward to it, and maybe we want to keep alive this tradition of honouring and remembering this premiere...”