My mother is out of town on a cruise so we got her opera tickets last night. Pittsburgh has a pretty good opera company and her seats are excellent so my daughter and I dressed up as fancy ladies and had a night out.
The opera was Don Giovanni, Mozart's take on the Don Juan story. Often, the story is done with a nod and a wink, an elbow to the ribs, a nudge nudge wink wink air, at least in the first act of the opera. Because a rake will be a rake, ok? A dude with a lot of hormones can't help himself, amirite?
I give the Pittsburgh Opera a lot of credit in this, though. Right out of the gate, there was no ambiguity to this character. He was not lovable. He was a straight up rapist.
You can't really see the words in this picture. In bullfighting arenas, there are doors marked Sol and Sombra. One door leads to seats in the sun, the other leads to seats in shade. This was the main curtain for the production.
The idea of light and dark is what the story is all about. We start off with Don G escaping a room after either the rape or attempted rape of Donna Anna. It's a violent scene. Pittsburgh Opera had them nearly fall from the balcony. The struggle was frightening. Don G then duels with and kills Donna A's father, the Commendatore.
Through the story, the manservant Leporello tries to convince Don G to change his ways. He refuses. The servant is comic relief and also tries to bring his master to light. To no avail, of course. Don G is completely unrepentant. When they come upon the happy wedding party, Leporello is horrified when he realizes his master's intentions regarding the bride. He has no choice but to comply due to his station, the implication being the bride Zerlina also has no choice but to comply.
Bearing in mind the company did not deviate from the story as written. They simply presented it with staging, lighting, and acting that made it very clear who and what Don G was. And it was not cute. It was utterly gripping and so well done.
In the final scene, Don G has one last confrontation with Donna Elvira, a woman he either assaulted or deserted or both. It was really uncomfortable to watch. He was ripping her clothes off and violently forcing her legs apart in an overt attempt at rape while Leporello looks on helplessly. She is saved of course by the ghost of the Commendatore, who comes to avenge his death and Don G's whole life and reason for being.
(The acting and staging were nothing like this in the Pittsburgh production but it gets the point across)
Don G is completely unrepentant. He regrets nothing. He is a sociopathic serial rapist and his only sentence could be death. Though the opera house was uncomfortably warm, I got cold chills when he was at last dragged off to hell.
Being who I am and being who my mother is, I had to find and play "the stoned guest" by PDQ Bach this morning. Light to the darkness.
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