On April 29, 2015, Medford High School Italian classes attended the Boston Lyric Opera‘s final dress performance of Mozart’s “Don Giovanni” at the Shubert Theatre in Boston. The group was able to attend the show because forty free tickets were donated to them by the educational department at the Boston Lyric Opera. The money to pay for the bus to take to-and-from the theatre was awarded to the group by a scholarship fund of former Italian teacher from the school, Michelina Petrangelo. This fund exists because Petrangelo wanted students to experience Italian activities, and have access to scholarships. The fund money supports trips to Italy, cultural experiences, and college scholarships for Medford High School students.
The students who attended the opera studied the two-act play in school prior to attending. “Don Giovanni” is a two-act opera that features a dark story that involves heartbreak, betrayal, death, and overall tragedy.
In the first Act, we find Don Giovanni involved in various “conquests.” These conquests are involved in dramatic scenes with past and future lovers of Don Giovanni. It starts with Donna Anna, who refuses Don Giovanni. Her father, The Commendatore, fights with Don Giovanni, and ultimately loses. The loss results in his death. Donna Anna swears to avenge her father’s death and find his killer. She eventually forms a mob alongside her fiance, Don Ottavio.
In Act II, Don Giovanni and his servant must switch clothing in order to avert the crowd. They eventually find each other in a cemetery. While in the cemetery, they see the Commendatore’s statue come alive. Don Giovanni invites the live statue to have a meal with him. The statue asks him to repent, which he refuses. The statue then engulfs Don Giovanni in flames, thus ending the piece.
The students compared the version they studied to the one they watched. They noticed various differences, which they said contributed to the emotional impact of the opera. The students gratefully enjoyed the performance and are eager to return to the theatre for another show.