WNO’s ‘Don Giovanni’ Doesn’t Shy Away From Irony
By March 5, 2020 0 1137•
In the past couple of weeks, Harvey Weinstein has been convicted, Chris Matthews was ousted from his anchor chair and Mike Bloomberg’s campaign went up in smoke, mostly because Elizabeth Warren — and a ravenous media — nailed him to the cross over his past treatment of women in the workplace.
“I’d do you in a second,” Mayor Mike was alleged to have told a lady employee.
Don Giovanni probably would have said the same kind of thing, but in Italian, from a balcony, with a cold bottle of prosecco in hand (Italians do it better, they say).
As far as we know, neither Harvey, Chris nor Mike has the rap sheet of Don G, whose sexual scorecard — a thousand in France, a few hundred in Germany — and misconduct are legendary.
The Don wasn’t a nondisclosure-settlement kind of dude. He wanted a Mozart opera about his legend, one that would last centuries.
And it has — landing yet again in the nation’s capital, usually ground zero of men behaving badly and being dragged to hell by public opinion.
Since its debut, the opera has been a comedy to some and a battle of the sexes to others. But it’s always been, for me anyway, a cautionary tale.
For men: remember you can never outdo a woman in adoration or revenge. For women: don’t be roadkill on the battlefield of love.
The opera’s political relevance is summed up in the #TimesUp hashtag in promotions for the Washington National Opera production, running through March 22 at the Kennedy Center. The promos show the title character engulfed in agony. How clever.
To its credit, WNO isn’t shying away from irony.
Just this week, the company released a statement explaining that its apprenticeship program would drop the name Domingo after its namesake, former WNO Artistic Director Plácido Domingo, was accused of harassment by several women.
Going forward, the program will be known as the Cafritz Young Artists of Washington National Opera.
The current production of “Don Giovanni” also doesn’t seem to adapt its storyline to make it more politically correct, or palatable. There’s no sugarcoating the cad here.
Don Giovanni, sung by a devilishly handsome and talented Ryan McKinny, is a dog, pure and simple. He not only chases skirts, but pulls them up, pawing at whatever happens to be in his way.
He’s what we despise most in a womanizer: smug and entitled, but hard to resist.
The opera’s climax, where Don Giovanni meets his demise, is the fateful warning that you die like you’ve lived. Yet another lesson from the operatic legacy of the world’s most famous jerk.
#MeToo wasn’t around during Mozart’s time, but he’s doing more than his part to wave its flag.