Your essay must be a bare minimum of 1500 words (approximately five pages, typed and double-spaced). Other than the assigned text for Don Giovanni (or ebook) and the materials provided, you may NOT consult outside sources. Consequently, you needn’t attach a bibliography or list of works cited to your essay. (References to and/or quotations from the assigned text for Don Giovanni (or ebook) need only be documented with page numbers.)
The subject of the Don Giovanni Response-Essay is your experience of both
reading the assigned libretto (pp. 49-106 in the assigned text or ebook)
and viewing and listening to Joseph Losey’s film of W.A. Mozart’s and Lorenzo DaPonte’s Don Giovanni.
HOWEVER – the subject of your essay is NOT a comparison of the libretto with the film. An opera is simultaneously a work of verbal and musical and visual art. Joseph Losey’s film is NOT a filmed version of a book. The film is one among many different performances of the opera created by both Lorenzo DaPonte (who wrote the words) and W.A. Mozart (who wrote the music).
(1) Although the film has English subtitles, I recommend that you read the assigned libretto (pp. 49-106 in the assigned text or ebook) before viewing the film. Most opera companies print in the program a plot synopsis of the opera they are about to perform so that the audience can familiarize themselves with the plot before the performance begins. In lieu of such a program, I recommend that you read the assigned English translation of Lorenzo Da Ponte’s libretto (rendered in the meter and rhyme of the original Italian) before you view the film.
(2) The running time of this opera is just under 3 hours, so plan your viewing accordingly. Don Giovanni, like most operas (and most plays), offers the audience an intermission between acts. I recommend that you likewise take a break after viewing Act I before viewing Act II. Most intermissions are between 15 and 30 minutes, but you might want to take an intermission of an hour or more so that your focus is just as sharp for Act II (which begins at 1:31:46 in the film) as it was for Act I.
The Don Giovanni Response-Essay is a personal essay for which the audience is both the professor and the rest of the class.
Consequently, you should assume that your audience has had the same general introduction to opera as a medium, has read the assigned libretto (pp. 49-106 in the assigned text or ebook), and has viewed the film. But you cannot assume that your audience will share the same reactions to these that you had.
Moreover, since it is a personal essay for me and the rest of the class, the appropriate style for your essay is less formal than that for an analytical paper, but more formal than journal-writing.
Your purpose as the writer of this essay is to enable your audience not only to understand exactly how you responded but exactly why you responded in the particular ways that you did to W.A. Mozart’s and Lorenzo Da Ponte’s opera, Don Giovanni.
In order to achieve this purpose, make sure that in your essay you…
(1) refer to specifics of the story and characters of Don Giovanni,
(2) refer to specifics from Lorenzo Da Ponte’s written libretto for Don Giovanni,
(3) refer to specifics from at least three of the individual pieces of W.A. Mozart’s music for Don Giovanni (which include the orchestral overture, the twenty-four numbered arias and ensembles, and the many unnumbered passages of recitative singing), including at least one individual piece of music from each of the opera’s two acts
(4) refer to specifics from this particular performance of Don Giovanni (such as the acting and singing by these particular performers, the staging and direction, as well as the costumes, sets, and other visual elements of this particular performance), and
(5) above all, account for your individual reactions by referring each of them to its relevant context – the medium of opera as such, the genre of opera buffa, and the period-style of Classical music.