Saturday, 17 July 2010

Don Juan, who is he and what about the women

I have just seen two videos of Don Giovanni. One was from Salzburg Festival 1987 with Herbert von Karajan as conductor and Samuel Ramey (Don Giovanni), Ferruccio Furlanetto (Leporello), Gösta Winbergh (Don Ottavio), Alexander Malta (Masetto), Donna Anna (Anna Tomowa-Sintow), Donna Elvira (Julia Varady) and Kathleen Battle (Zerlina). The other video was from Norwegian National Opera with Knut Skram (Don Giovanni), Svein Carlsen (Leporello), Kjell Magnus Sandve (Don Ottavio), Svein Arild Thorsen (Masetto), Hillevi Martinpelto (Donna Anna), Kjertsi Ekeberg (Donna Elvira), Ingjerd Oda Mantor (Zerlina), sung in Norwegian and from 1988.

And since the second video started with the director giving his view of the opera and I read a soprano's view about Donna Anna as lying all the time and therefore not being sympathetic enough for her. The Swedish director Göran Järvefelt's view about Donna Anna being hurt by Don Giovanni's escapades because she found her self to love Don Giovanni that I would earlier have accepted is not something I can believe in. Why could not Donna Anna find herself suddenly in love with Don Giovanni? If Donna Anna loves Don Giovanni and care not for Don Ottavio then the soprano is right: Donna Anna is simply lying all the time and is not sympathetic. But that view would mean that one would find a way make the beginning of the opera something much nicer than it really was.

Don Giovanni is inside Donna Anna's home, he came right into her bedchamber. Was he invited by Donna Anna? Legal entrance. No. Donna Anna believed the man in her private, safe room was her fiancé, Don Ottavio. But it was a stranger. Her room was no longer safe, and the man ... It was rape, or at least an attempt to rape. She fought against the assailant. Her father came to her rescue, but the stranger killed him. How is this to be construed as being just an sexual encounter.

What about the relation between Donna Anna and Don Ottavio? Donna Anna is accused of lying. But could a women be open and truthful to the men in her lives about being raped? At that time it was impossible. And now?... In that society a woman needs to know when and what to say if she is not to loose all respect.

If one does not romanticize the encounter with Don Giovanni then you see a woman struggling with the effects of rape that makes it so hard to show affections to her beloved Don Ottavio. In this view Donna Anna is sympathetic and should not be portrayed as hard and unloving woman.

No wonder we have an easier time with Donna Elvira who just simply still loved Don Giovanni no matter what. We don't need to think about what a society and what patriarchy can do towards women. We can just sigh, ah, it's love... But of course, Donna Elvira only that.

Instead of asking about Zerlina's point of view, we often overlook her to go straight to Massetto. That is not fair.

Why should modern audiences ask whether or it is fair that Don Giovanni goes to hell for denying all the rules o society? Why not care about those hurt by Don Giovanni's actions? Personally I care nothing about who the commandatore should be presenting in the last act? I care for those hurt by any sociopath going around destroying other people's lives

For more reviews from my travels, see

1 comment:

Piraten said...

Hi, I was wondering where you got hold of the video of the Norwegian one with Knut Skram, Svein Carslen etc? I really want to see it!