By traveling to Prague, operatic tenor Rolando Villazon participates in a dramatized reconstruction of what it must have been like at the first night of Mozart's DON GIOVANNI. He encounters musicians, technicians, theatrical historians and scenic designers, who collectively tell him about the experience, using period instruments as well as visiting actual locations (for example, Prague's perfectly preserved eighteenth century theater). We see a small company in rehearsal for an extract from the opera, with expert help from a choreographer who tells them about the histrionic style of acting characteristic of that period, bearing a strong resemblance to the techniques used in silent film. The program ends with a dramatized extract from the opera, performed in a film studio on a hand-painted set based faithfully on eighteenth century designs for the premiere. Villazon proves an enthusiastic guide; he relishes the task of witnessing DON GIOVANNI being slowly put together, and gives a convincing account of why the opera proves so enduring popular to audiences of all generations. The performance at the end is genuinely dramatic - especially the moment when the eponymous hero descends into hell, using stage machinery modeled on the machinery used at the first performance, to the accompaniment of fire-crackers. A truly memorable experience for first-time viewers and Mozart aficionados alike.
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