Don Giovanni, a Spanish nobleman, is renowned throughout Europe as a seducer of women; Leporello, his servant, reluctantly aids him by keeping watch. In Seville Giovanni attempts to rape Donna Anna, who chases out the intruder. Her father, the Commendatore, challenges Giovanni to a fight and is killed. Anna and her fiancé, Don Ottavio, vow revenge on the unknown murderer. Leporello’s attempts to persuade his master to reform are interrupted by Donna Elvira, a former mistress of Giovanni’s, who has pursued him to Seville. Giovanni makes his excuses and escapes her, leaving Leporello to explain the extent of his master’s womanizing.
Masetto and his bride Zerlina are to be married at a peasant wedding near Giovanni’s villa, but Giovanni sets himself to seduce Zerlina. Elvira interrupts and foils Giovanni’s attempt. Ottavio and Anna appeal to Giovanni for help in their pursuit of the murderer of Anna’s father. Elvira again interrupts and warns Ottavio and Anna about Giovanni’s true nature; Anna recognizes Giovanni as the murderer. Leporello discusses with Giovanni the plans for the masque ball his master is hosting that evening. Zerlina, reunited with Masetto, assures him that Giovanni has not touched her. Elvira joins forces with Ottavio and Anna; they have been invited to the ball and intend to exact vengeance on Giovanni. While everyone is dancing at the ball Giovanni attempts to ensnare Zerlina, but is stopped by her. She rallies all behind her to try to entrap Giovanni. All accuse him, but he and Leporello elude them once more.
Hoping for success with Elvira’s maid, Giovanni exchanges clothes with Leporello, who is instructed to lure Elvira away. Giovanni is interrupted by Masetto, who is intent on killing him, but his disguise is successful and he beats Masetto up and escapes. Returning with Elvira, Leporello is mistaken for Giovanni by Anna, Ottavio, Zerlina and Masetto. Removing his disguise, Leporello convinces them that he is not the guilty one. Ottavio swears vengeance on Giovanni whom, despite all, Elvira continues to love.
As Leporello and Giovanni hide in the mausoleum, Giovanni is warned by the grave of the Commendatore of impending retribution. Giovanni orders Leporello to invite the ghost to supper. Giovanni is eating at home when Elvira rushes in and implores him to reform; he does not take her seriously. The ghost of the Commendatore has accepted the unrepentant Giovanni’s invitation and arrives to drag him to hell.
Radio 3 Guide to the Opera