Does Opéra de Montréal’s Don Giovanni have shades of Donald Trump?

Clockwise from top left: Jean-Michel Richer, Emily Dorn, Alain Coulombe, Gordon BinterClockwise from top left: Jean-Michel Richer, Emily Dorn, Alain Coulombe, Gordon Binter

When Opéra de Montréal production of Mozart’s Don Giovanni plays Nov. 12, 15, 17, and 19, many will be struck by the similarity between its central figure and Republican Presidential nominee Donald Trump.

The opera, featuring an all-Canadian cast and full orchestra at Place des Arts, is among the top ten of the most popular works in the repertoire. With the Italian libretto by Lorenzo Da Ponte, it was first performed Oct. 19, 1787 in Prague under the title Il Dissoluto Punito Ossia Il Don Giovanni – (The Rake Punished).

University of Virginia academic Bonnie Gordon has speculated on Slate’s cultural blog (Oct. 21) about the striking similarities between Trump and Don Giovanni in their attitude and actions toward women.

The opera opens with Donna Anna raging against Don Giovanni because he had seduced/assaulted her, and then tells the story to her fiancé Don Ottavio.

“With one hand he tried to silence me and with the other gripped me so tightly that I thought I must succumb,” Donna Anna later sings – a story that will be familiar to many women, Gordon writes.

“And then the shame, the horror of such a vile attack gave me so much strength that by struggling, twisting, and turning, I managed to free myself.”

Don Ottavio has trouble believing this “of such a noble and charming man,” but eventually “he and everyone else, hears through the superficial charm of the rich rogue, and listens to the violent actions beneath the surface.”

The echoes with Donald Trump are obvious and, Gordon notes, “one can easily imagine a staging … with a real estate mogul travelling the country and leaving groped and humiliated women in his wake.

In the “Catalogue” aria, Don Giovanni’s servant Laperello lists his master’s conquest: 1,003 in Spain, 100 in France, and more elsewhere, but in the end, as Gordon says, the message is clear:

“Even a rich charismatic guy cannot get away with predatory behaviour, groping, serial rape, and, I’m sure, the occasional ‘pussy grab’. The Don ends up being dragged to hell.”

Stage direction for this production is by David Lefkowich, who has worked for world-class opera houses. Musical direction is by Jordan de Souza, a rising star with a budding international career. Lead singers include bass/baritone Gordon Bintner (Don Giovanni), bass/baritone Daniel Okulitch  (Leporello), soprano Emily Dorn (Donna Anna), tenor Jean-Michel Richer (Don Ottavio), soprano Layla Claire (Donna Elvira), and soprano Hélène Guilemette (Zerlina). There are subtitles in English and French.

Find tickets and info online, or call 514-985-2222.

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