Parsifal in Bayreuth. Falstaff at La Scala. To the suggestible, an operatic masterpiece revived in the space where it premiered takes on an aura it possesses nowhere else. Within the Mozart canon, a single title may be experienced this way. Of all the opera houses the composer worked in, only the Estates Theatre in Prague, inaugurated in 1783, survives as he knew it. And it was there, on October 29, 1787, that the public first thrilled to Don Giovanni, his demonic dramedy of a serial seducer, his scrapes, and the dinner guest of stone who drags him to hell.
On April 24 of this year, the Estates witnessed its latest iteration of the work as mounted by the Czech National Opera for home viewing. To open, the camera pans from the chandelier down past five Neoclassical horseshoes to an orchestra just 16 seats across—a prelude to make the heart sing. Film historians will recognize the picturesque premises from Milos Forman’s Amadeus, splashy winner of the Oscar for Best Picture of 1984.