Wednesday, November 2, 2011

La ci darem la mano

On Sunday I went to a theatrical presentation of the Metropolitan Opera's production of Don Giovanni -- one of those live-in-HD broadcasts on the giant screen, only not at my local movie theater but in the performing arts main stage on our campus.

We had worked with the College of Fine Arts and Communications to get discounted tickets for our freshmen in the hope of introducing them to the opera series offered on campus. The choice of opera couldn't have been more felicitous for me. Don Giovanni is one of the few operas with resonance in my upbringing.

I'll never forget the unit on Don Giovanni that my beloved high school mentor Mrs. Greene taught in ninth grade music.  She played and replayed "La ci darem la mano" so we could understand the simple melody and structure, and the subtle way Mozart changes it as the duet progresses.

She also impressed my teenage mind indelibly with the plot of the final act: A graveyard statue comes to life and drags Don Giovanni down to hell for his sins!  I admit that throughout the broadcast on Sunday I was giddy with anticipation for that part.  What could be more awesome?

What I'm wondering is whether productions usually play Donna Anna and her fiance straight, or whether they are ever played as comic buffoons.  Their asides to the audience about how confused they are, not to mention the way Donna Anna always pleads grief and revenge in order to avoid committing to Don Ottavio, make me think that the whole thing could be a pretty hilarious joke.  Any opera aficionados care to enlighten me?

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