If you are new here on the Shortbus, this is not intended to offend––although it will. When the Shortbus began rolling over three years ago, I was a very embittered telemetry technician whose silly dream was to be an author. Now I’m an embittered author wishing he could just get a paycheck. Please read About the Author and Players to get a better understanding of how the Shortbus rolls.
Before I get started, I want to remind you all of something important— Why is this guy still making money?
Don Giovanni is a very complicated opera written and composed by Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart. That is all the fact you will get out of me on this one. C-Jane plans to write her review based on the truth, my review will be as if seen through the fractured lenses of our good buddy, Glenn Beck. My review will be as you would expect here on the Bus.
I hate opera. C-Jane’s dad, better known as Papa Calamity, has given me crap for liking theater, but hating opera. I hate the caterwauling and the foreign languages translated on a screen above the stage. I can’t very well watch a play if I need to read all the dialogue. It is hard to read with someone shrieking like a banshee.
The other attack from Papa Calamity was “How could I claim to appreciate classical music and still despise opera?” I’ll tell you, it is the lack of caterwauling. To appease Papa and to get him to leave me alone, I said I’d see one of Mozart’s operas. When Calamity Jane told me Don Giovanni was performing here in Portland, I was cornered like a rat.
C-Jane, high pressure saleswoman and possessor of Big-J’s balls, told me Don Giovanni was a performance about a womanizer who gets his comeuppance. I liked that already. She bought our tickets. I would only be responsible for purchasing dinner. I like to eat—hence, Big-J.
Don Giovanni is a very big deal; it is a highly-reputed opera. Our seats were a little above stage level, but on the extreme right side of the stage. We could see most of the performance quite well from our vantage.
The stage had been set up so upon entering the theater my first thought was that fortune smiled. I thought maybe I was about to see The Book of Mormon and not Don Giovanni. [See how nicely that ties in Glenn Beck?] There were two rows of uncomfortable chairs––about fifteen per row––and a big cross on the left stage wall. The opera was modernized from its original time-frame, and when the players appeared, their dress appeared late 1930’s to early 1940’s.
Act One begins with Don Giovanni wearing a mask and trying to get it on with young Donna Anna, who is betrothed to Don Ottavio. There was lots of caterwauling, then Donna Anna’s father shows up and threatens Don Giovanni. Don Giovanni smashes the old man’s head into the wall and he dies. Giovanni runs away.
Don Giovanni has a servant named Leporello, who happens to be my favorite character in the play. For the entire first half of the opera, I was convinced that Leporello was in fact, Don Giovanni’s conscience by the things he does to try to warn the women of what Giovanni is all about. Here is an example—the translation of Leporello’s caterwauling to heart-broken Donna Elvira is, “His conquests include 640 in Italy, 231 in Germany, 100 in France, 91 in Turkey, but in Spain, 1,003.” Later in the opera, it becomes clear that Leporello is quite corrupted by his own greed.
I’m not giving you the whole play. I’d have to start a Shortbus Wiki to get all the details, but there are more players than just these. There is also the peasant girl Zerlina and her betrothed, Masetto, who are cornerstone characters to busting Don Giovanni’s game.
As a play and as a symphony, this show was fantastic. Don Giovanni is touted as one of the best operas ever written. As perfect as the Portland performance was, it did not win me over to that noisy side of art. I still, and most likely will always, hate opera. As we’d left the theater, I admitted that the players and performers were the best––the show was impeccably directed and cast, but C-Jane would need to find a gay friend to go with her to the next opera.
Papa Calamity, I still hate opera.