Don Giovanni 101 – Characters and Plot

September 26, 2023 | By Opera Colorado | Don Giovanni, Opera 101

An illustration of Don Giovanni including flames, an opera mask, and a sword

Don Giovanni takes the legendary character of Don Juan and sets his escapades to Mozart’s sweeping music. This serial womanizer, along with his trusted servant Leporello, gallivants around Spain attempting to seduce as many women as possible. While he has always evaded consequences in the past, this time, a former lover, Donna Elvira, is out to get him.

What unfolds in Mozart’s masterpiece is a mixture of comedy and tragedy with a fiery conclusion. Learn more about the creators, characters, and plot of this story before you see it live.

Opera Colorado presents Don Giovanni from November 4-12. Tickets are on sale now, starting at just $39>>


The Creators of Don Giovanni

Composer – Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart (January 1756 – December 1791)

Librettist – Lorenzo Da Ponte (March 1749 – August 1838)

Source Material – The stories of the legendary figure Don Juan

The Characters of Don Giovanni

Donna Anna (soprano) – A young noblewoman and daughter of the Commendatore. Played by Danielle Pastin, making her Opera Colorado debut.

Donna Elvira (soprano) – A young noblewoman and Don Giovanni’s former lover. Played by Ellie Dehn, who returns to Opera Colorado after performing as The Countess in The Marriage of Figaro in 2019.

Don Ottavio (tenor) – A young nobleman and Donna Anna’s intended. Played by Joshua Dennis, who returns to Opera Colorado after performing as The Duke in Rigoletto in 2022. 

Don Giovanni (baritone) – A young nobleman with a reputation for seducing women. Played by Bruno Taddia, who returns to Opera Colorado after performing as Figaro in The Barber of Seville in 2019. 

Commendatore (bass) – An older nobleman and Donna Anna’s father. Played by Kevin Thompson, making his Opera Colorado debut.

Leporello (bass) – Don Giovanni’s servant. Played by Joshua Bloom, who returns to Opera Colorado after performing as Colline in La bohème in 2017.

The Plot of Don Giovanni


Mid-seventeenth century in Seville, Spain

Don Giovanni — Act I

A woman looks at a book with a shocked expression as a man look over her shoulder
Leporello (Joshua Bloom) sings “The Catalogue Aria” to Donna Elvira (Ellie Dehn)
Source: Matt Staver/Opera Colorado

In the garden of the Commendatore’s house, Leporello keeps watch while Don Giovanni is inside attempting to seduce the Commendatore’s daughter, Donna Anna. Leporello grumbles about his life as a servant and dreams of nobility. Giovanni and Donna Anna stumble into the garden, struggling; she has found him hiding in her room and is shouting for help. The Commendatore appears and challenges Giovanni to a duel, which culminates in the Commendatore’s death. Giovanni and Leporello flee just as Donna Anna reappears with her fiancé, Don Ottavio, who vows revenge on the mystery assailant.

The next morning, Giovanni and Leporello encounter a beautiful woman lamenting a past lover who abandoned her. Giovanni begins to flirt with her, and quickly discovers she is Donna Elvira, a woman he recently seduced, and that he is the lover she’s referring to. Donna Elvira angrily recounts his mistreatment—she fell in love, he promised to marry her, and then he disappeared—and Giovanni flees as she is caught up in the tale. Leporello is left alone to justify his master’s behavior and tells Donna Elvira that she is just one of Giovanni’s many conquests, leaving her seething with revenge.

Don Giovanni — Act I, Part II

A man in rich clothes talks to a young couple, a man and woman, in more simple attire
Don Giovanni (Bruno Taddia) meets Zerlina (Kerby Baier) and Masetto (Turner Staton)
Source: Matt Staver/Opera Colorado

As Giovanni and Leporello wander the streets of Seville, they meet Zerlina and Masetto, who are celebrating their wedding day. Immediately, Don Giovanni sets his sights on Zerlina. He attempts to separate her from Masetto by offering to host a party for the newlyweds at his nearby castle. Once Giovanni and Zerlina are alone, he begins to seduce her, but Donna Elvira arrives and thwarts his efforts.

Donna Anna and Don Ottavio enter and ask Giovanni for his help in finding the Commendatore’s murderer. Elvira returns to expose Giovanni’s villainy, but he explains away her outburst as insanity. After Giovanni leaves, relieved to have not been caught, Donna Anna suddenly recognizes his voice and identifies him as her attacker and her father’s killer. She recounts the ordeal to Don Ottavio and asks him once again to avenge her father’s death.

Unaware he has just been exposed, Giovanni looks forward to an evening of dancing and drinking at the wedding party and has led Zerlina into a private room to assault her. Elvira, Anna, and Ottavio arrive undercover in masks to confront him. Zerlina screams for help, and Giovanni unsuccessfully blames Leporello for the attack, but none of the partygoers are fooled. The three guests unmask and accuse him—and Giovanni manages to escape once again.

Don Giovanni — Act II

Five people stand and face a man who is sitting on the floow
The crowd confronts Leporello, thinking he is Don Giovanni
Source: Matt Staver/Opera Colorado

Horrified once again by Giovanni’s behavior, Leporello threatens to quit, and Giovanni offers him money to appease him. Giovanni sets his sights on Elvira’s maid as his next conquest. To avoid getting caught as he makes advances, he convinces Leporello to switch clothes with him. Giovanni decides to play several games with the wardrobe change: Leporello (disguised as Giovanni), making false promises of love to Elvira, lures her away while Giovanni serenades her maid; and Giovan

ni (disguised as Leporello) is able to escape Masetto, who arrives to kill him.

Leporello, still in Giovanni’s clothes, runs into Ottavio, Zerlina, and Masetto, who all threaten to kill him. Fearing for his life, Leporello reveals his identity and begs for mercy. Leporello escapes, and Ottavio is more convinced than ever that Giovanni killed the Commendatore.

Leporello meets up with Giovanni in a cemetery, where they discuss the night’s encounters. They are interrupted by a mysterious voice that emanates from a nearby statue—a memorial to the Commendatore. The inscription on the statue’s base reads, “Here am I waiting for revenge against the scoundrel who killed me.” Thinking it’s a joke and that he is above any sort of punishment, Giovanni invites the statue to dinner—and he agrees to come.


A man faces a statue standing in a darkened doorway
Don Giovanni (Bruno Taddia) about to be dragged to hell the Commendatore (Kevin Thompson)
Source: Matt Staver/Opera Colorado

At the dinner, Elvira appears one more time to beg Giovanni to change his ways. He laughs at her, and she has a terrifying encounter with the statue as it arrives. The Commendatore offers Giovanni a final chance to repent, but Giovanni refuses. As Leporello watches in terror, the earth cracks open in flames and demons drag Giovanni to hell.

Donna Anna, Don Ottavio, Donna Elvira, Zerlina, and Masetto arrive, searching for Giovanni. A shaken Leporello tells them they will never see Don Giovanni again. They all contemplate their futures and Giovanni’s terrible fate, saying, “Such is the end of the evildoer: the death of a sinner always reflects his life.”

Are you ready to see the opera live?

You made it through all the twists and turns of Mozart’s masterpiece! Experience Opera Colorado’s production of Don Giovanni live at the Ellie Caulkins Opera House from November 4-12! Tickets start at just $39>>



What is your favorite moment in Don Giovanni? Is there anything you are dying to know about the opera or our production? Let us know in the comments below!


2 Comments to “Don Giovanni 101 – Characters and Plot”

  1. My favorite thing about the whole story has to be that Don Giovanni stays true to his ways even as he is, literally, being dragged to Hell. He is a selfish womanizer, a liar and a murderer. He deserves everything coming his way and the world is a better place without him. Still, he doesn’t repent anything.
    As for my favorite moment, it’s when Leporello sings “but in Spain… it’s already a thousand and three… a thousand and three. “

  2. Most of us have seen this opera many times. The one time. And I don’t remember where I saw it set in the 1950’s. That is the one time I was able to keep track of all the characters easily. There are so many twists and turns usually that it is difficult to keep track of everyone

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