Saturday, May 17, 2008

Don Giovanni

Last night my wife and I attended the Utah Opera's performance of Mozart's Don Giovanni! I thought that it was fabulous. The music was wonderful. I've always enjoyed the music to Don Giovanni, but this was my first time actually seeing the opera. It was a wonderful experience.

For those of you who are unfamiliar with Mozart's Don Giovanni, let me give you a brief summary (in my own, uneducated words).

Don Giovanni is Mozart's creative genius combined with the legend of Don Juan all put to extraordinary music. Don Giovanni is the main character and is a womanizer to say the least. He has an easily intimidated servant who, although outwardly disagreeing with his master's actions, is somehow always convinced to remain faithful to his master's bidding. The opera opens with Don Giovanni attacking a girl who is currently engaged to be wed. The girl's father appears and attempts to fight of the attacker (who is disguised at the time) but ends up dead. While the duel is taking place, the daughter has run off to find help. She returns to find her father dead. Her fiance swears to avenge her father's death.

To make a long story short, the young lady and her fiance spend the rest of the opera chasing down Don Giovanni (they eventually find out he was the attacker). However, before they are able to kill him, he is confronted by the statue of the Comendatore (the girl's father). Yes, that's right - a statue. There is a statue of the Comendatore in the cemetary. While Don Giovanni and his servent are fleeing the mob that is after them, they end up in the cemetary where the statue begins to speak to them. Don Giovanni, thinking it to be some sort of trickery (while being inwardly frightened) invites the statue to dinner. He and his servant return home and prepare a marvelous meal, which Don Giovanni begins to partake of right away - he does this to show that he is not at all afraid of the "ghost" of his victim. Well, as it turns out, it wasn't a trick, and the Comendatore shows up for dinner! He (the statue), in turn invites Don Giovanni to return with him for dinner (implying the after-life). Don Giovanni accepts the offer, at which point he is told to "shake on it"... he does and the apparition's cold hand graps onto Don Giovanni's and does not let go. He commands Don Giovanni to repent several times, but Don Giovanni refuses. So the flames of hell come and drag him away. After this ghastly scene ends, the other characters enter the home looking for Don Giovanni only to find his frightened servant. The servant relays the story and they all rejoice and sing the moral of the story - which is that evil-doers are no good :)

My summary does not do the opera justice by any means. It is actually a very deep, complex, and yet witty, whimsical work of art. If you have never seen a performance of Don Giovanni, then check your local opera house or universities and find out when the next performance will be!