The other Don Giovanni: Gazzaniga's take on the legendary lothario at the RCM

Henna Mun, a 2023 Andrea Bocelli Foundation-Community Jameel Scholar at the Royal College of Music (RCM), is reviewed as giving a stand-out performance as Maturina in the RCM's winter production of Giuseppe Gazzangia's 'Don Giovanni Tenorio'.

"Among the principals, the Maturina of Henna Mun particularly stood out. Mun was one of the highlights of the RCM production of Respighi’s La bella dormente nel bosco in March and it was gratifying to hear her again. She has an appealing higher register and a presence that makes her a natural on the stage," writes Dominic Lowe in Bachtrack magazine.


Different adaptations of the same plot are far from unusual in opera – one thinks of Manon Lescaut and numerous Shakespeare-based operas – but there will be few opera buffs who will know any version of Don Giovanni other than Mozart’s. The Royal College of Music has made an enterprising attempt to change this by staging for their Autumn production Giuseppe Gazzaniga’sDon Giovanni, o sia Il convitato di pietra (sometimes known as Don Giovanni tenorio).

A representative of the Neapolitan School, Gazzaniga is little known by modern audiences. His Don Giovanni is one of over fifty operas written across a half a century; it premiered in early 1787, a few months before Mozart and Da Ponte’s adaptation delighted Prague. Alas, a comparison of the two goes decidedly against Gazzaniga, and the RCM’s production – as well performed as it is – serves only to remind one of Mozart’s unique genius and Da Ponte’s dramatic flair. Nowhere was this more obvious than in the insertion of Mozart’s Catalogue Aria, brought in to this production as gesture of historicity on the grounds that operatic performances of the time would often feature arias from other composers; several by Salieri also appeared in this production.

There are points of departure: instead of Mozart’s three women – Donnas Anna and Elvira, and Zerlina – we have Anna, Elvira and Donna Ximena, while Maturina replaces Zerlina. There’s an entertaining scene in which Don Giovanni is balancing Ximena with Elvira, only to have Maturina enter for an amusing verbal battle with Elvira, a moment of buffa outstandingly delivered by the cast which put me in mind of the confrontation between Susanna and Marcellina in Figaro. The opera otherwise largely follows the same lines as Mozart’s, albeit in one-act form.