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  • November 2011
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Don Giovanni- What Not to do if You Don’t Enjoy Fire and Brimstone

Posted by Anna Kozlova on November 28, 2011

I was not sure what to expect walking into the Met to see “Don Giovanni.” Reading the libretto gave a good sense of the plot of the story, although I did not know what direction the show would go in. After all, the example shown to us in school involved a Don Giovanni injecting himself with drugs and stripping down to his underwear in the middle of a party. I was very pleasantly surprised to see a show that stayed pretty accurate to the libretto, and a plot that despite taking place centuries in the past, stayed relevant to modern sensibilities.

The story of Don Giovanni is that of a “bad boy” who jumps from girl to girl at a speed that can make one’s head spin. The whole opera is a testament to Giovanni’s decadence; his mission is romance and carnal enjoyment. In a comedic statement, he claims that he does a disservice to the women of the world by staying with just one individual; a statement that does a good job at defining his whole view of life.

I had a much better time watching the opera than I did simply reading and listening to the libretto. Characters really come to life with actions, bringing emotion and humanity to the beautiful singing. The comedic aspect comes out much more distinctively with the opera; I was shocked by just how funny “Don Giovanni” was. In particular, Leporello’s exaggerated gestures as he tries to woo Donna Elvira according to Don Giovanni’s instructions had me cracking up.  While in class, it was hard to determine whether this opera is a drama, a comedy, or a “dramedy.” Now, I have no doubt that this is a comedic work.

While the premise of the show is a man having as many affairs as he can physically manage, it didn’t come off as too shocking. It may have seemed startling in more conservative times, where the Dionysiac aspect probably contracts with day-to-day life. Now, with the advent of modern television and the internet, nothing can really shock me anymore. I am still not sure whether that is bad or good, but it certainly dulls the “shock factor” that was probably a part of the performance years ago.

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