Mozart – Don Giovanni / Salzburg 2006 (2)

(Previous section here.)

That a production of Don Giovanni might contain some scantily clad women is not going to surprise anyone. (Well, with some exceptions.) But the women in this are not necessarily there to be ogled. There are the women in fur coats who appear during “madamina, e catologo e questo” – but then there are the women cleaning, and later on a little girl. (This reminded me of the Peter Sellars version, which also had a little girl, but she appeared later. Also, come to think of it, that version also played with the question of whether Leporello and Giovanni were different people, like this one.)

If Elvira is walking through some sort of representation of Don Giovanni’s interior state in that scene, the presence of that girl (someone needs to show her how to jump rope properly – normally the activity looks a bit less anemic than what she’s doing) suggests all is not well with DG and women, in a general kind of way. In fact, one of the things that this production does is suggest that he’s as much laboring under a bizarre compulsion as he is cheerfully playing the field. He can’t “lasciare le donne” – and one wonders if he isn’t being half driven around the bend as a result. He himself does not appear particularly troubled, but everything around him seems to suggest it.

I said before that in this version the murder of the commendatore and that whole plotline that ends in DG’s destruction comes off here as something that DG himself sort of wants. Certainly the fact that the scantily clad young women are the ones who remove the body, and they are the ones who prep the old man for his return – the representation of Giovanni’s obsession is/are the ones who arrange his demise. In addition to the young women, there are also older ones, not just those we spot cleaning, but a whole phalanx of them in the graveyard scene, who are dressed the same way as the young ones (white underwear, stockings, white bras) but their hair is messy and they are made up to emphasize their age – they look terrifying. They’ve got black gunk in their mouths. And they laugh at him. Don Giovanni seems to be both obsessed with and terrified by women. Given this, it’s interesting that Leporello spends a lot of time tearing up and scattering the catalog – he does this at several points during the story.

And then there is the matter of the blindfold. Giovanni carries it around with him, and whips it out of his pocket at all sorts of interesting moments. Anna is wearing it when she first emerges from the interior room in Act I. Giovanni at several points taunts Elvira with it, and she clearly wants to put it on. Giovanni is packing some sort of self-forgetting or deception or something that these women want, but that they do not necessarily want to want. What that might be, though, is more suggested than stated outright.