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I, Don Giovanni

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Original title
Io, Don Giovanni aka
  • Io, Don Giovanni
Running time
120 min.
Italy Italy
Carlos Saura, Raffaello Uboldi, Alessandro Vallini
Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart
Vittorio Storaro
Co-production Italy-Spain-Austria; Edelweiss Cinematografica, Radio Plus, RAI, Ministero per i Beni e le Attività Culturali, Eurimages, Novo Film, Televisión Española (TVE)
Drama. Musical | Biography. Opera
Synopsis / Plot
The world of Mozart is beautifully re-imagined in this elegant and at times rollicking retelling of the story behind the creation of one of his operatic masterpieces, Don Giovanni. Although there are songs and theatrics in the film, this is not a simple restaging of the opera. Instead, director Carlos Saura dares to probe into the creative origins of Mozart's work, and emerges with a backstage tale that is full of both drama and the excesses of opera itself. There is love and certainly jealousy, in addition to scheming divas, court composers, faithful wives and ethereal young things. Central to the story is not the great composer but his overlooked librettist, who used all this raw material as artistic inspiration. The fascinating and great Lorenzo Da Ponte penned Mozart's finest operas, including Cosi fan tutte, The Marriage of Figaro and their final collaboration, one of the jewels of the repertoire, Don Giovanni.

Lorenzo Da Ponte's life was the stuff of opera itself. Forced to convert from his Jewish faith to Christianity for the sake of a good marriage, he was trained as a priest, then took a mistress and fathered a child. Reprimanded by the authorities, he opened a brothel, which led to his banishment from Venice. Relocating to Vienna, he soon fell into the court, where the emperor, a lover of opera, paired him with Mozart. Inspired by Giacomo Casanova's exploits, Da Ponte persuaded Mozart that the adventurer should be the subject of his next opera.

All Da Ponte had to do was look around him, and his characters were born. In addition to being pursued by a beautiful ingenue, he was simultaneously balancing the egos of his two divas of the moment – one the lover of the court composer Salieri, the other his own mistress. By listening to the ministrations of Casanova himself and keeping Mozart inspired, Da Ponte achieved the miraculous invention of Don Giovanni the opera. Now, thanks to stunning photography by the great Italian cinematographer Vittorio Storaro (Apocalypse Now, The Last Emperor), the cities of Venice and Vienna come alive – as does the operatic stage. All this makes I, Don Giovanni a formidable celebration of the creative spirit. (From
2010: European Film Awards: Nominee Best Production Designer
2009: David di Donatello Awards: Nominated Best Hair Design
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