Mozart's opera Don Giovanni performed at Covent Garden Theatre, 1963

Mozart's opera Don Giovanni performed at Covent Garden Theatre, 1963

Mozart's opera Don Giovanni
Covent Garden Theatre, London
1963
Black and white photograph

This photograph of Mozart’s opera Don Giovanni records the 1963 production at Covent Garden with Cesare Siepi in the title role. Critics felt that Siepi was at his best in the famous scene, shown here, where the sexually insatiable Giovanni seduces the peasant  girl Zerlina, sung by Mirella Freni, on her wedding day. The production was directed and designed by Franco Zeffirelli in rich, romantic style with stiffened, encrusted and bejewelled dresses set against backgrounds of pale gold, russet and dark browns. Accurate period reconstruction was not the aim, and though styles ranged over three centuries, it could be argued that this helped stress the timelessness of the theme. It was harder to explain how  the simple peasant girl, Zerlina, could afford this very grand wedding dress. There is a legend that Mozart wrote the overture to Don Giovanni the night before the first performance. His wife  kept him awake by telling him fairy tales, interspersed with endless cups of coffee.