Mozart's Don Giovanni and the fear of freedom|
By Tarek Ali Hassan
An unparalelled insight into the sexuality of the human male!
Tuesday, November 12, 2002
Mozart'Don Giovanni is one of the greatest works of art. Through the genius of Mozart equally lavished on all his characters. The music, the vocal line and the drama unfold the miracle of a daring psychodynamic analysis of human sexuality and of the deepest recesses of human nature
A treatise on male human sexuality using Mozart’s Don Giovanni
Music, vocal line structure and drama as an explorative vehicle
(Stipulating the reader to be well aquainted with Mozart’s greatest Operas).
Perspectives and psycho-dynamic explorations savouring some of the riches of Mozart’s Operatic cycle (the greatest symphony on earth:
The Marriage of figaro (a living loving micro-cosm of human society) the first movement
*Don Giovanni (the existential drama of the life and sexuality of the discordant male human animal) the second movement
Cosi fan Tutte(the jocular antidote to dogma and isms for all time) the Scherzo
The Magic flute (salvation and resolution of drama through escapism or through choosin growing into and passing the trials of fire and water) Finale
An overview of Mozart’s Don Giovanni
The profound psycho-emotional insights in this work are infinitely rewarding for the seeker not only because of the drama itself and the intricate subject ; human sexuality of which we know very little but because of the infinitely layered insight of genius with Mozart’s equal dedication and commitment lavished on all his characters as they express themselves through the unfolding of the music, the vocal line and the miracle of living drama in ways that seem to penetrate the layers of human defences into the deepest subconscious motivation and energy.
Well before Freud and Jung and Reich and well beyond the face value of the liberetto sizzling with Da Ponte’s genius, we have a process of musical psychoanalysis of the most profound nature unfolding to penetrate the most impregnable areas of the human psyche, emotions and motivation.
Why do we know so little about human sexuality?
The significance of that musico-dramatic penetration into human sexuality is focused as we contemplate that from beginning of recorded history a wide gulf had developed
between the biological evolutionary forces that led to the development of Homo sapiens and the social evolution that Homo sapiens created at his /her inception with the birth of the first conscious sexually differentiated animal.
The diffrence between female sexuality and male sexuality is enormous yet the male is disadvantaged in that it had to be the primodorial Mother Creatrix the giver of all or most subconscious formative knowledge who was to feed the male with the attitudes and postures that defeat his own sexuality and distort his self perception while supporting the female (at least the part of female sexuality that is advantageous to procreation and rearing of children ).
When men effected with a vengeance the artificial and superficial patriarchal revolution -- late pre-history-- ( see isis and raa from the Osiris drama web site). The apparently triumphant males further complicated matters by adopting many of the dictates of the matriarchal era as their own. Even when the male deities were established and the female deities cruelly and ruthlessly destroyed, the new patriarchal masters maintained in deep unconsciousness many of the dictates of the primodrial matriarchs. They even brainwashed the new patriarchal world to see these dictates as signs of male superiority and dominance !!
The most notable amongst these anti-male adaptations was to be the institution of monogamy and the monogamous marriage institution together with the subtle falsification of human male sexuality into an eternal revolving of male around the female as supreme idol and ideal.
The other profoundly anti-male old matriarchial rule incorporated unconsciously into the male dominance patriarchial era, has been the taboo affecting auto-sexuality and homosexuality. Awful as this taboo is to the female it falls short of annihilating her being. The results of the taboo on homosexuality and auto sexuality on the male have been devastating and annihilating. Deprived by the primordrial matriarch of intimacy with self and with other males, males have historically and at so many levels sought deeply yearnned for intimacy with self and other males in war and torture or spastic hero worship of tyrants and dictators.
War, tyrant worship, violent sport and torture have been historically the only sanctioned intimate physical interaction between males. Biologically and anthropologically there has been no mechanism understand natural human sexuality. If you are a male you always had the green light to relate physically to other males if you were killing them in war or torturing them into submission or confession or forced work as captives. All that was to be acceptable without a second thought.To have a physical relation with another male in love continued to be one of the ultimate taboos, the horror of horrors, the crime of crimes. The recent slight liberalisation towards a physical love deeply suppressed knowledge of self and of same, contributes little to the lighting up the closely barricaded areas of self knowledge and same knowledge as the gradual liberalisation is quickly sucked into the trap of socially ordained a priori patterns of behaviour
We are never allowed a virginal insight into the sexual nature of man -- or of woman for that matter -- at best we have occasional glimpses into the primal biological forces heavily twisted, manipulated and modified by social and political conditioning, distortion and amputation. Scientists are locked into the insoluble cobwebs of socially engendered stereotyping into heterosexuality or into homosexuality as a mirror image perversion even into socially engendered liberal autosexuality, homosexuality and bisexuality. Most scientists working on sexuality and human nature have had their research compromised by a priori assumption that the socially engendered stance towards sexuality is the basic, primordial and natural reference point.
Don Giovanni poses the enormous challenge embodying the knowledge that the socially evolved male sexuality is not natural male sexuality. Don Giovanni is a male challenging the Procrustean bed tailored for male sexuality over millions of years. We experience with Mozart, Don Giovanni’s challenge to the norm in the form of heterosexual monogamy and the heterosexual marriage institution. Don Giovanni's challenge reveals the weak , oppressed and dependent female betraying to us the dynamics of her advantage in making and maintaining the socio-political world as it is and in manipulating the direction of social evolution in lines counter to the expression of natural male sexuality which by its nature is closely linked to the concept of freedom(Viva la liberta, end of first act). In this particular drama women are observed blatantly perpetrating the formula they reserve for the male viz. to accept monogamous heterosexuality within the marriage institution or face destruction. Succumb to that pre-ordained possession or death!
As usual in Mozart's drama giocoso even in all Mozart's drama, there are no badies and goodies . At all times you are at once laughing , crying and marvelling at the human drama and the human predicament, you don't come out with affirmed enemies admired heroes and allies but with heightened consciousness, awareness and the seeds of compassion. The very last song of the six questo e il fin di chi fa mal! is not by any means the final lesson about the punishment and end of the evil-doer but yet another question in the infinity of questions posed by the primordial pulses and rhythms of the drama. In Don Giovanni - like in many of Mozart's greatest works - there is a beginning but there is no end . The last scene with the statue visiting Don Giovanni to destroy him and banish him to eternal damnation, has an uncanny non-finality about it. The sequence goes on for ever. It certainly should be projected even symbolically into the final sextet if it is played. The six close their eyes to the drama and pretend it does not exist. Don Giovanni - like Oedipus Rex and Oedipus at Colonas - asks them and the audience for help, and support. He asks for love to bear the full weight of his, man's, intolerable existential fate as male Homo sapiens. They do not even register him or register his pain.
Don Giovanni, Oedipus Rex and the failure of the collective consciousness to accept the nature of man
The unwritten part of these great dramas has to do with the potential effective role of a collective human will/consciousness that can release Don Giovanni out of hell and damnation and that can stay the terrified hand of Oedipus before he destroys his own eyes.
Don Giovanni like Oedipus Rex is damned, banished and pushed or dragged into the abyss of eternal torment in hell.
Why? What exactly is Don Giovanni damned or cursed for?
What exactly is he being burned eternally in hell for? The so-called murder of Anna ‘s poor father was a duel hysterically and unnecessarily precipitated by Anna and which Don Giovanni sincerely tried to prevent.
The victims, Elvira and Anna – the first after a fully consented experience, and the second after according to her a no experience, he will not touch with a barge pole!
Zerlina is as willing as he is – most of the time – when she is not watched or being dragged off by Elvira in her enormously comic and revealing ah fuggi il traditore . Even Don Giovanni’s exquiste flirtations with Elviras maid are aborted by Masetto ‘s appearance with his friends. The very humane beating up Masetto seems a very mild response to Masetto’s hot blooded and possessive self-confessed intent to murder.
Is that a chronicle of enough crimes to condemn a man to eternal torment and damnation? Not by any standards. Yet he is condemned. Why?
This rings to mind echoes of the terrible Oedipus condemnation and punishment for terrible crimes which on close scrutiny one discovers Oedipus quite innocent at every juncture and certaily much less cupable than his detractors. Perhaps as we proceed with this article we may develop deeper insight into why is it that Don Giovanni like Oedipus, like Dionysius is so rabidly condemned and has to be destroyed?
Opening scene insights, psychodynamics and reflections on the whole opera:
Anna is desperately clutching at Don Giovanni, why?
Not to arrest him and hand him to the law, not really to alert her father or to muster help to prevent a crime of rape in the making, that is very unconvincing in the situation taken at the face value.
Normally any woman would be shaken but enormously relieved that the strange bedroom intruder has fled or is trying to flee. Why should she clutch at him desperately? Why should she make such a noise as to end up by forcing her ageing father into an unequal and perilous encounter.
Anna and Don Giovanni are linked by a primordial powerful force neither can really escape the other and each is deadly to the other.
They are equals on diametrically opposite life adaptations. Giovanni ‘s adaptation makes him, partially disappointed, sexually, indifferent to Anna after the first total experience.
Anna’s adaptation on the other hand compels her to identify and destroy Giovanni if it is to survive.
Don Giovanni has shaken the very foundations of Anna’s existence, of her peace, of her painfully achieved death-in-life adaptation ordained by her upbringing, conditioning and by the social order.
Don Giovanni has succeeded in arousing her, he has given her a taste of the orgasm that she is eternally deprived of by choice and by conditioning. Don Giovanni and Anna have certainly already had orgiastic intercourse before the trio and then quartet of the opening scene. I have no doubt that we should see and hear the sounds and shadows of Anna’s unprecedented orgasm in the embrace of Giovanni during Leporello’s opening aria. This would respond well to Leporello’s (what do you think my master is doing now? )
How would a frigid woman enclosed perhaps forever into the coldness and cruelty of a social affirmation life with no pulse, with no rhythm, with no space for orgasm, how would she react if in half a dream she would experience total orgasm by a mysterious creature who – after a short and significant pause – seeks to leave and disappear, forever?
The desperation of Anna to discover His identity and to have him is important from the beginning. She must have Him as a legally forced consort i.e. husband. If legalised marriage was not socially permissible or socially acceptable in her case, the social straight jacket will stretch to accommodate everything as long as the practitioners are diminished into secrecy, anxiety and guilt. She may have the chance of having the intruder as a secret lover in a guilty love affair. In the end if none of the alternatives work, then she must still have him in the sense of destroying him.
She adores him, she worships him, she wants him. He has opened within her areas that were safely and deeply buried. She hates him. She is terrified and ashamed of his existence. She is in a panic because of his existence. He at once arouses her desire, her yearning, her lust, her anger, her hate, her adoration, her panic , her unstoppable desire for extirpation, sterilisation , castration , amputation and union at the same time. How dare he arouse her. He must be castrated.
Growth-giving , life-feeding water and socially made artificial water
For fundamental psycho – biological reasons Don Giovanni’s orgasms with women can only be incomplete, partial, subtotal.
Whereas most men are not aware of the inherent dissatisfaction built into the human male, Don Giovanni is aware of that inherent dissonance, and that knowledge in Don Giovanni generates one of his unresolvable dilemmas.
One can not believe that Don Giovanni is going from one ecstasy to the next. On the contrary the almost comic pattern of frustration that he is treated to in the whole opera seems to be the pattern of his sex life at a deeper level. His catalogue shows that he is insatiable. Is he insatiable because he is the primordial macho who never tires of fucking women and can have an unlimited number of erections/ ejaculations every night or is it because he is perpetually dissatisfied?
There is a comic anecdotal component in the story relating to Don Giovanni’s chronic failure to achieve ultimate satisfaction as a parody of the inherent non- resolution of the human male. Every time Don Giovanni seems to be about to have some fulfilment, he is physically interrupted so that the fulfilment is interrupted and frustration ensured.
for example his fulfilment is perpetually aborted throughout the opera :
With Zerlina first time after the ravishing duet,
With Zerlina second time in the garden, with Zerlina third time in the party
With Donna Elvira’s maid after the fabulous mandolin aria
Even his food and the beautifully cooked pheasant he is not allowed to enjoy or eat properly at the final scene with his dinner repeatedly interrupted
On the other hand as we have noted earlier he testifies to the inadequacy of his fulfilment with Anna or Elvira by his complete lack of interest in Anna or Elvira, during the many times when they cross his path at pitches of enormous emotion.
It is likely that Anna identifies him after the B flat quartet with Elvira and Ottavio because of his peculiar coldness to her coupled with his electrifying touch.
As though Don Giovanni betrayed himself as a man who already knows her and knows her closely guarded secret of frigidity and therefor has no interest in her as a woman anymore. Yet to Anna, Giovanni is the man who holds the key to her innermost desires but is maddeningly not interested and unwilling. Don Giovanni remains humiliatingly cold towards Anna. Regardless of the cordial and polite appropriate social statements he makes to her when she confesses that she needs his help. The cold rejection is so terrible as to plunge Anna into her terrible recitative and aria immediately after the quartet(Or sai chi l’onore).
It is to be noted that Anna’s account of her story to Ottavio (Don Ottavio, son morta!) is a manifest lie. She says that nothing primordial has happened other than the death of the ageing commendatore, whereas all indicators point to some primordial happening which is deeply buried and closely guarded.
Don Giovanni’s relation to woman and Tristan’s relation to woman
In the case of Tristan as a true creation of the romantic era, the frustration and the awful non- fulfilment is not due to the inherent discordant position of the male but due to the physical separation from the female. An excellent and plausible posture as long as it is not put to too much scrutiny. The question remains, if Tristan and Isolde were united and all barriers to their union being accepted removed, what would happen to them after the honey moon period?
Mozart is at once pre-romantic and post-romantic. He lightly, effectively and un-self-consciously is steered by his great art away from the hyper-enthusiastic idolatry and idealisations of ideologies, isms and hyperacute untested postures, catastrophic fevers that were to sweep the 19th and twentieth centuries and that were so characteristic of the romantic period and beyond (see an analysis of Cosi Fan Tutti).
In Mozart’s post romantic maturity, the female, is a living, pulsating interactive human being not the idolised on-a-pedestal, conveniently unattainable, non-interactive ideal proposed, like communism, nationalism, religious fanaticism as unquestioned answer all! (as you would see in Fidelio and most works of the idealist romantic period). In Mozarts intensely alive interactive world, the searcher is allowed a neutral non-judgemental insight into the existential and primordial forces in human life and their potential resolutions by insight and not by pre-judgement and easy classification into good and evil.
As Drama at the source is discovered and rediscovered through the agency of the music, vocal line and drama, the perpetual frustration experienced by Don Giovanni echoes the perpetual non-resolution of the male of the human species
(the foxes have holes and the birds of the air have nests ; but the son of man hath not where to lay his head .
Reflections on the finale of the first act of Mozarts Don Giovanni
The finale of the first act is a dazzling break up of social rules, norms and conventions; peasants and workers in the palace of the aristocrasy dancing, eating, sexing, revelling and enjoying themselves. The pursuit of love is doubly threatening when it goes across the social barriers and in so doing affirm the artificially and unreality of these social barriers. Worse than communism, anarchism or other threatening ideologies, the orgy or a truly Dionysian revelling is the most dangerous of all.
Imagine Don Giovanni as Timothy Leary or Baguan , with power, wealth and privelage what threat does he pose to the established order? Imagine him inviting Mrs Thatcher and her inner cabinet or more telling still Gladstone and Queen Victoria to one of his truly hippie parties. They would be terrified. It is interesting to speculate why the (correct) are terrified in an orgy. Why are the puritans, authoritarians, militarised disciplinarians, terrified when exposed to nakedness, physical or metaphorical. What is the difference between the experience of love and the experience of legally prescribed and sanctioned act of love.
When the three masked guests perform the incredibly beautiful prayer outside Don Giovanni’s palace, they are truly frightened.
It is their genuine fear of the challenges to their norms that they will be exposed to. They will be exposed to love , rawness, nakedness . They will be exposed to aspects of human being and sexuality they did not know about and do not want to know about. They will be exposed to people of a different station unprotected by established social patterns.
The Zerlina attempted rape sequence can not be rape at all. We know from (lace darem la mano) that Zerlina or at least a strong part of her desires Don Giovanni . She is in his party with consent and ignores Masetto’s admonitions completely. She is after her little experiments and adventures. She even wants to tease Masetto and give him a good lesson . If there is going to be possession then it is she who is going to posses him and not the contrary. Besides there is no harm in arousing his jealousy and then calming him later an exercise which she has already tried with great success. Like in many so called rape sequence the cry of I am ruined is half plea for help and half a cry of ecstasy !
It is the terror that the victim’s forbidden ecstasy be revealed that causes the victim the minute she senses the presence of( others ) to change the cry of ecstasy into (help I am ruined). It is a terrified attempt to neutralise the awful risk of certain ostracisation by the socio-political-religious order should the victim be seen to accept her forbidden joy .
When Zerlina realises that her groans of ecstasy will be heard and observed, they metamorphose into a help me cry.
One must therefor postulate that extremely common mechanism. It is not difficult to discover it .
Anna, Ottavio and Elvira are on fire and like hawks are onto Don Giovanni in the party . They are following every development in the unfolding Giovanni/Zerlina interaction with a mixture of fascinated curiosity, enchantment, and the desire that he actually commit the awful crime of raping that poor, innocent girl so they can righteously condemn and denounce. They do nothing truly preventive. They want the crime to happen. They probably follow them through a window that would give them a glimpse of what is happening behind the scenes. Zerlina may notice them ogle eyed waiting to denounce. On the other hand Masetto who frees himself from Leporello’s enforced dance, rushes to the door and bangs on it before Zerlina’s cry. In common with the pattern of the whole opera, Don Giovanni is again frustrated and interrupted.
Don Giovanni does not have to accuse Leporello of the Zerlina affair , he is still perfectly in control of the situation and he is the lord and the master in his own house. He rather enjoyed the obviously farcical act. Perhaps in his renewed sexual frustration he decided to discharge his energies in this act entertain himself and poke fun at the stupidity of the stiff Masetto at the temporary expense of Leporello.
Don Giovanni thinks very little of Anna, Elvira and Ottavio. When they unmask themselves, Ottavio brandishes a pistol and they all threaten terrible things he is totally sarcastic of their outburst. He can either walk out with confidence and disdain or more in keeping with his dynamics beckon them out! Go and leave me alone you self defeating fools!
Anna is an example of an enormously strong and powerful woman. That strength is manifested to the outside world and to other men who can not penetrate her frigidity. It is a recurrent form of pseudo-strength that stems from successful denial of her weakness and biological needs . It is a strength depending on successful defences against the reality of her weakness. She is nevertheless quite capable of putting the act, perfectly timed, of the poor dependent female but only for long enough to regain the initiative and the ascendancy when threatened. In other words well-protected weakness can be used as a ploy for effective manipulation of others. Note the fainting episodes and her crudele aria towards the end of the second act. Anna is used to have men revolve around her as well manipulated servers. She achieves that mostly by cold powerful dominance and by continuos direct grabbing of initiative, she will also when necessary maintain dominance by milking men’s sympathy and gallantry. The dynamics of Anna’s relation with Ottavio unfold a fascinating pattern. Directly and indirectly she dominates Ottavio from beginning to end. Ottavio may not be a very interesting man, but neither we (the outside world) nor for that matter he is allowed any space to be and to discover what he really is. She would have liked to apply the same full harnessing technique to Giovanni but fails and she will never forgive him.
When the commendatore (that petrified old fossil) confronts Don Giovanni, Anna runs away ostensibly to seek help. There are deeper reasons. The situation is too much for her. She is mortally embarrassed, ashamed and in a panic lest the reality of her secret and her subconscious dynamics regarding the rabid rage to arrest Don Giovanni, discover his identity and capture him. She has raised an enormous completely unwarranted hoo-ha without reason at all, if the superficial version of the story were true.
Anna’s dynamics are more of a queen bee or a black widow spider in whose serene peace and resigned stability, a male has exploded, spat his poison and is about to run away and threatens thus to explode the basic laws and adaptations of her whole world unless he is captured, castrated and / or destroyed.
Hubris and Don Giovanni
One of Don Giovanni’s major weakness is his under estimation of the cumulative power of the social order, he seriously underestimates what he lightly calls the fossilised buffoon/s, whose cumulative aggression eventually emerges as the stone statue with enough coldness, hardness and power to freeze the life and the heart of Don Giovanni/s and condemn him and all his likes to perpetual damnation, deprivation and outcastness. Because Don Giovanni easily reverses the petrified fossils that make the pillars of fixity of the social order in the single encounter, he is in great danger of underestimating their power and their ruthlessness long term.
For example the beginning and end of the first act – he does not see the enormous cumulative powers pitched against him fed by the existential fear of freedom and fear of love in the social mass and their collective subconsciouss. He does not realise in his conceit that the space allowed him so far stems not from the power of love, but from the fact that the reigning fear of freedom fear of love matrix, allows transgression as a tactic. Transgression is even encouraged as long as it feeds into the mechanisms to affirm the sinfulness and guilt of deviants turned suppliants and repentants. The allowing of deviation and transgressions doesn’t signify the weakness or impotence of the social order (marble statue adaptation). Once a pattern dares to emerge as one of deliberate defiance, then the full rigour of the marble statue is unleashed on the culprit – perhaps by an invited or an uninvited fatal visit to dinner wherupon the transgressor/s are crushed completely and made an example of.
Don Giovanni’s other weaknesses is his lack of compassion. That compassion would be absolutely necessary for him to have insight into his own journey and to achieve development.
How on earth could he achieve the space to develop insight and compassion with women such as Anna and Elvira after him to posses him or have his blood? And with the social order symbolised in the marble statue pursuing him from beginning to end.
In all cases Don Giovanni is a very lonely man, even before the final scene when he is condemned to the terrible damnation of social rejection outcastness and banishment.
As for Don Ottavio, Anna knows he is in her total control. There is no real worry about him discovering or not discovering anything. Not because he is a weak man. That weak man approach which we have seen in many productios of the opera is too easy, too simple . Ottavio is a perfectly socialised man. He is a strong perfectly socialised man. He is a strong faithful example of what he ought to be. In this posture he is led by authority, propriety and dictates of duty, and not by internal initiative forces. As long as Anna can take up the role of authority, Ottavio will remain absolutely safe. When Anna the iron lady left the scene and ran away she defeated her primary overwhelming goal but she was in a panic on account of herself and her predicament not on account of her father. The prolonged grieving and mourning to come, including the extra year she demands from Ottavio at the end of the opera (I suspect will last a life time). Don Giovanni plunges Anna into grieving and mourning not for her father but for herself. The oaths of vengeance and retribution she forces all the world to make relate to her state – tragedy – much more than to the death of the ageing commendatore. Part of Anna is fulfilled by finding the commendatore dead and Don Giovanni disappeared when she arrives with Ottavio and attendants. Anything the father might have suspected will now be safely buried forever, while the wounded Anna, the desperate Anna has a surrogate tragedy in her life to mourn and wail and vow vengeance and retribution. It is Don Ottavio’s proper duty to serve this eternal mourning
On the Don Giovanni / marble statue dynamic a philosophical analysis reflecting on many isms.
Anna’s frigidity and her despair of liberating orgasm has become her accepted social adaptation and refuge. Anna, like others in her group, opts for the protection of the social mores, rules, the status quo. The rules, impart comfort and stability by their very rigidity, fixity and hardness. They need to be stone hearted and stone rigid and to be experienced as stone hearted merciless, ruthless and rigid(study the penal history throughout the ages). They are cold, deaf to the agonies and screams of sufferers, they need to be cold without let or mercy. The marble statue is an embodiment of this important – and socially all powerful – life adaptation. it is a life adaptation by life negation . It is a form of perfected death-in-life which is extremely powerful and effective. It maintains stability, safety, positions of privilege or underprivelege. The marble statue is the natural mentor , vanguard , general and arm of the trio Anna , Elvira and Ottavio . the stone man adaptation could be fail proof and therefor giver of total peace and liberation had it not been for the likes of Don Giovanni who shake the stability of the social order from the very foundations . He is a searching life adaptation. He is a major threat .
Interactive multidimensional pluralism and the law
Don Giovanni’s arrogant attempt to make the inner like the outer is from that stand point definitely criminal . His open defiance is dangerous and totally unacceptable .
The marble statue adaptation must establish itself contrary to all common sense as the only true life. (Different )can only be tolerated as an apologetic repentant, transgression never as a defiant alternative . There must no respectable , good or guiltless alternatives . The way of the law; the socially evolved law posing as inherent natural/divine law, must be one and only. It must be the way of life and all else death, destruction , regret , damnation and evil. if defiance can not be tolerated, defiance coupled with mockery is worse . Don Giovanni is guilty of defiance and mockery and he therefor must be destroyed .
It is because of the very unnaturalness and injustice of the – socio-politically evolved laws insidiously re-fed into the human pshyche much later as natural and divine, that these natural/unnatural laws have to be held so rigidly. It is because of their unnaturalness and weakness as the truth and the way that they must destroy all else that offers itself as an alternative or dares adopt a defiance stance. They can only stand by general submission and certain relentless destruction of all (other ) and of any defiance.
They stand by a tacit general agreement that everyone will have a secret life, in imagination , in reality or both. A secret life in which to give vent to their real biological needs and being as long as they posture themselves in the arena of proper Law and Order as guilt ridden sinners, suppliants and repentants . The Law , the (cold marble statue) will allow total freedom to do anything as long as it is done ‘ on your knees and in secret or, if public, given a socially acceptable label .
Don Giovanni is attempting to be free standing up. He believes in freedom and joy standing up and in public. He has no respect for the social mores he defies them , mocks them moves across them in his actions with complete disdain. Don Giovannis social crimes are not only in relation to women but in the arena of social class , race , age , aesthetics , religion , national considerations. He doesn’t seem to have a special regard for the institution of private property either !
He will make love to a woman from the enemy camp or of the wrong social class or station . he will make love to the fat or small or old or young . he will make love to a woman of the wrong age . He will make love across friendship and marital barriers . He will mix and intermingle with peasants and workers and will have these mix in his parties with the aristocracy . He conjures the actions of de Sade and Guagin and the pursuit unto death and destruction responses engendered in their respectable social matrices but especially in their respectable women spouses and their parents. Though not specifically expressed in the opera, it is implicit that he does -- or soon will – make love across incest barriers , gender barriers , species barriers. There is nothing to stop Don Giovanni – adopting in this instance the Dionysius(see Euripides, The Bacchae) and/or the hippie role liberating love from the external social to the internal universal open to make love with same or animals or plants or even –adopting the Oedipal role- his own mother . He has already expressed a great amusement at the idea of having love with Leporello’s wife. He, like life is a continous apparently lawless menace to stability ! He will keep journeying across the sacred social barriers, drinking from the sacred forbidden vessels as though the taboos did not exist . By so doing he terrorises the multitude into spastic affirmation of the make believe existence of non-inherent mores that have to adhered to with fanatic rigidity and protected with extreme force and violence .
We are given glimpses into areas of life’s confrontation with the death-in-ife adaptation evolved socially and politically over the ages and on top of a deeply suppressed unresolved matriarchal patriarchal battle.
Don Giovanni’s confrontation is that of the individual attempting a higher modicum of honesty with their internal reality and internal experience – physical as well as metaphysical – and finding themselves pitched in deliberate or non – deliberate defiance of the established order.
Don Giovanni and two primordial drama conflicts
The generation to generation drama
The male/female drama
There are two other major confrontation areas pertinent to the Don Giovanni drama where life and the marble statue interface generating conflict.
The new generation naturally is closer to the signs and messages and pulsations of life. That generation is therefor more likely to feel the discordant strains of the death-in-life adaptation. They are most likely to challenge the status quo (the marble statue) knowingly and unknowingly. The old in years and despairing in heart have happily substituted the socially evolved laws for human nature. Their (drama) revolves around the problems of abiding by these unnatural,posing as natural, laws. No fundamental questions are asked any more. For the young, coldness, rigidity, lack of color; exclusive white or exclusive light*, lack of pulse, lack of rhythm are all unnatural and terrifying.
The generations go through the phases of teenage rebellion. Rarely do these phenomena take shape as a mass movement taking coherent shape and presenting an in the light deviant alternative as happened with the sixties teenage rebelion. It is interesting to explore how the stone statue equivalent in the sixties and seventies, marginalised, outcasted, cornered and destroyed the challenging alternatives of the young and rebellious..
The old in age or the unadventurous in heart have as their natural protagonist the stone statue; marble, white cold, infinitely crafty and hard. The young in age or adventurous in heart will have Don Giovanni as their protagonist. Echoes of the generation drama emerge in the Don Giovanni / stone statue confrontation, echoes also of the child/adult, life/law, new generation /old generation confrontation.
The other dramatic confrontation area symbolised by the Don Giovanni/stone statue encounter is the feminine/masculine struggle. The opera shocks us out of the romantic and liberal era concepts anticipated and rejected by Mozart. Mozart leads us to existential, transactional, Gestalt psychology and beyond he leads us to the perpetual asking of questions, with BODY and soul just as Arthur Rimbaud was dreaming of in his (une saison en enfer)
Normal sexual behaviour in man?
The new generation male’s futile search for fulfilling sexuality
As human social evolution proceeded a biological/social gulf and conflict was born.
Biologically the female needs to capture male to serve her and her offspring for at least the length of confinement and essential rearing. This need became enforced largely by social evolution as the primordial natural order.
Biologically the human male contrary to all living things is born unprogrammed. There seems to be no pre-programmed normal sexual behaviour patterns in the human male, bioological evolution opting for experiential learrning instead and adventuring into an interactive self/environment relation to help evolve a broad spectrum of behaviours as enrichers of the species experience and cummulative knowledge base.
From a male stance the womb is yearned for and needed as comfort and primordial memory of pre-birth heaven to the point of feeling secure enough, strong enough to be born and take on his existential burden of an unprogrammed (therefor quite lost searcher) conscious living/being deprived of the God-given Nature-given blessing of being able to bear children. As the male ends his task in the womb, and is ready to plunge into his existential insecurity, the female is just starting her longer, deeper much longer task in need of security and stability that is the males social –not biological- task and duty to fulfill. Deprived of the fundamental blessing and raison d’etre of child bearing the apparently purposeless lost male is not protected by unconsciousness like the rest of the other males of the animal species, he, like the female of the Species nevertheless achieves the same status of conscious beig similar to the female in being subject existential burdens of consciousness, the challenge of pain, fear, rejection, illness, the suffering of knowledge, ageing and dying.
That existential/intolerable burden causes him to seek the womb periodically but at a rhythm that is completely different from the feminine rhythm.
His manhood exists only when he is born, i.e. When he is separated from the secure heaven of the womb periodically and as an essential prerequisite of his birth as a male. As a male he yearns for and resents the natural female need, quickly supported by the social and tribal need for capture.
Without laws and careful socialisation, it is likely that the male would seek the periodic comfort of the wombs of woman, man / group, nature, animal / plant, and physical nature at rhythms which are unpredictable and threatening to the tribal and feminine interest to discipline, control and programme this intractable dangerously unprogrammed free entity for the sacred purpose of secure procreation.
The human male, needs modifying education and sometimes terrorisation, to exclusively preserve and direct energies to feminine procreation needs and rhythms. The status quo and the laws that protect it, uninterested in freedom but focused on preservation, procreation,power and perpetuity for the tribe, have been gradually developed to serve the purposes of the biologically disciplined feminine against the biologically undisciplined unprogrammed masculine. Like the great Michelangelo painting of the birth of man on the roof of the Sistine chapel, woman sides with the law , the womb ,God, while man in his birth is significantly and painfully separated from the God, from the from the law and from woman.
This man at once separated and linked, from the law, by the law, breaker of the law, is at once loved, hated, admired, condemned. If ever he relates to the woman/law/God alliance, he risks being captured. Yet he is born man only when if captured, grows and develops to mature into rebellion and discharge from heaven, from the womb.
The whole picture has been immeasurably complicated with advent of the patriarchal take over in late pre-history when the male in his superficial rebellion against the biological dominance and inescapable power of the female attempted to avenge himself and liberate himself not by consciousness and being but by evolving laws intended for female humiliation, degradation, suppression and abuse. He changed nothing of the primordial dominance of the female nor of her strategic advantage in the battle of rhythms and purposes that exists primordially. He fell into the trap of using the initially male-hated feminine tool of law. He became for the female the surrogate law-maker. He became law-maker by proxy. He became law-applier with a vengeance. Admittedly he had to become cold , hard, colorless and pulsless (the marble statue) – to perform the glorious role for Her . He had to destroy the essence of his manhood but that was a matter of no importance for he had evolved for himself social criteria for a manhood that was not in contradicion with the primordial male denial role.
In the final confrontation there are echoes of the dead male , the male who chooses death-in-life, in essence serving the feminine against the male who is seeking to achieve the near impossible life-in-life journey.
The avenging stone statue should have a woman’s head!
At any rate in the finale of the second act the conflict of interest and rhythm between masculine and feminine is underlined with ferocious force. The statue of the commendatore could have a feminine head, an enormous fertile womb and the arms and bodies of men who have opted to become natural allies of the established order and the death-in-life adaptation. The statue could be the primordial mother speaking through the made into stone, petrified, frozen post-patriarchal male socially correct figure. A very subtle physical metamorphosis could take place to reflect the dynamics. The commendatore and Ottavio, parent, adult and certainly grand parent generation back to the patriarchal God himself all revolve around the female Anna, Elvira and even Zerlina and serve Her purposes as the promordial Goddess Creatrix. All in fact except the children. Even Don Giovanni in his rebellion is still revolving around the female.
An implicit part of the drama is the fight to the death that would ensue between Anna and Elvira should Don Giovanni agree to be captured by either. It is an aspect of feminine power dynamics implicit but not explored in the opera.
Zerlina senses very early that she is not going to capture Don Giovanni. She just has not the matrix to achieve that. She completely looses interest after fulfilling her little experience of him and adventure with him she switches her warmth and charm on the healing and caring of the captured Masetto.
Some less dramatic reflections and finale.
Is Don Giovanni insatiable because he is perpetually thirsty or because he is getting false water?
Should we, could we empathise with him as a victim of socially prescribed water. Artificial water which every body seems to acknowledge as the real water but which does not satiate him as he is afflicted by this accursed honesty that penetrates social conditioning.
Like Oedipus he continues to search for deeper levels of the truth deeper levels of satiety. Where in every step he has many socially acceptable justifications to stop and shout Yes!eureka! That is ecstasy, that is truth. He will not listen to external queues, he is waiting for his deep internal knowledge, the real being Don Giovanni inside, to give the sign, which it does not give.
Like Oedipus he goes on relentlessly with his search even in the face of mounting threats of destruction and final ostracisation defying all these forces to the very end.
It is an odd and telling point that inspite of the unhappiness and loneliness of each of the three; Anna, Elvira and Ottavio together with the old commendatore, they are all out to destroy Don Giovanni who is searching for avenues to happiness across the social mores that make his accusers lonely and unhappy. His response to their Tutto gia se sa and Trema, trema is not one of terror and confusion at his guilt as is frequently shown in less studied performances, he does not have to draw and escape, he is in terrible pain and confusion even despair at the stupidity of all these unhappy and unfree human beings so rabidly condemning the pursuit of happiness love and freedom. It is the confusion and pain of a seeker faced with the unconscious fear of freedom. His is the Oedipal pain reaching its Zenith in Oedipus at Colonas when he moans the continued failure of the collective consciousness to perceive the dividing line between the existential burden of being born man and imagined culpable individual criminality and sin.