Follow TV Tropes


YMMV / Don Giovanni

Go To

  • Adaptation Displacement: Outside of the Spanish-speaking world, the opera is better known than Tirso de Molina's Spanish 17th century play The Trickster of Seville and the Stone Guest that was the first written version of the Don Juan legend.
  • Alternate Character Interpretation: Everyone. Is Anna a dutiful daughter who cares more for the honor of her dead father than her own happiness, or does she secretly feel passion for Giovanni and then self-loathing once she realizes that he killed her father? Is Zerlina a romantic ingenue thinking Giovanni is her Prince Charming before realizing the truth, or a coquettish girl that wants Giovanni because he promises her instant marriage (and, by virtue of that, his wealth and title)? Is Masetto a concerned fiance who feels helpless in his supposed inferiority to a nobleman in the eyes of his own fiance or a paranoid jerkass? The others as well, but these three most of all.
    • The idea that Donna Anna is in love with Don Giovanni and was willingly seduced by him has been popular for so long that simply believing that she was raped/almost raped comes across as Alternate Character Interpretation (despite being closer to what we know of Word of God).
    • Advertisement:
    • Even the title character has received some of this over the years. While in Mozart's time as well as today, Don Giovanni is considered an Affably Evil Jerkass, in the mid-19th century, at the height of Romanticism, Giovanni's unfettered attitude toward sex and life caused him to be interpreted as a Byronic Hero. Consequently, Donna Anna was seen as a Moral Guardian who was only after him because he violated the social order of the time. Never mind the fact that, you know, Giovanni killed her father...
    • Another for Don Giovanni: is he a young man with a comically over-the-top list of "conquests" that averages out to roughly one a night since he was in his teens, or is he an older man whose seductions were slow and spread over many years, and who is desperately trying to return to the excesses of his youth? Directors can make the story considerably more comic or darker simply by altering the (perceived) age of the lead singer.
      • Peter Sellars took this one step further by adding pedophilic subtext in his infamous 1990 modern adaptation.
    • Advertisement:
    • Leporello's characterization varies, largely depending on whether or not the production includes the finale. Most modern productions do, and so he is portrayed more sympathetically as a beleaguered manservant who takes no joy in his work, but this finale was omitted from the Vienna production and most subsequent productions until the late 20th century; these productions would typically portray him as a gleeful participant in Giovanni's schemes in order to justify him being dragged down to hell at the end along with his master. Furthermore, while his reason for staying with Giovanni is normally a combination of fear and Money, Dear Boy, many productions add further complexities to their relationship; for example, he may be an Old Retainer, there may be Ho Yay, or any number of other subtleties.
  • Advertisement:
  • Awesome Music: Mozart's wife Constanze claimed after his death that he had considered this opera his best work. That alone should tell you something.
  • Draco in Leather Pants:
    • Some productions do this to the Don, inevitably. Let's put it this way: if there were fanfics about opera, Giovanni's entire persona would no doubt be hiding a vulnerable romantic trying to find his One True Love.
    • This was also quite common in romantic-era criticisms of the opera, which saw Giovanni as a Byronic Hero who was a model individualist, and often derailed Donna Anna into a Moral Guardian who only hated Giovanni because she hated/was ashamed of sex (totally disregarding the fact that Don Giovanni also killed her father).
  • Ear Worm: The act 1 duet between Zerlina and the Don, La ci darem la mano (There we will entwine our hands).
    • Which will never sound the same again once you've noticed its resemblance to The Lumberjack Song.
      • Now it is far too late to try singing Ah, pietà signori miei to the Monty Pythons
      • Ecco il tempo di fuggir... ecco il tempo, ecco il tempo, ecco il tempo di fuggir...
  • Evil Is Sexy: Giovanni may be an example of the fact that aristocrats are evil, but the princesses on the list would hardly be only after his lesser wealth...
  • Hilarious in Hindsight: To those with more contemporary inclinations: if you just picture the titular character as Zapp Brannigan, the play becomes much funnier.
    • Don Giovanni literally has binders full of women.
  • Ho Yay: At times, Leporello seems just a little too devoted to Don Giovanni.
    • And then (depending on the translation) there's the line where Leporello says that Don Giovanni "took his innocence." He then turns to Elvira and says "You know what it's like." It doesn't take a lot of imagination to imagine what that could mean. Considering this is Don Giovanni, taking it a step further isn't too hard.
    • There's at least one production (Macerata Opera Festival, 2009) where they are lovers.
  • Magnificent Bastard: As close to a definition of the trope as you'll get or need.
  • Nightmare Fuel: The climactic scene: the Don is Dragged Off to Hell by a Living Statue, to the accompaniment of a chanting chorus of devils, as he and Leporello each scream a Big "NO!". Quite chilling to dwell on, and Mozart's music ensures you'll dwell on it.
  • The Scrappy: Don Ottavio. Was even included in a recent BBC Music magazine list of operatic Scrappys.
  • Squick: Don Ottavio's consolation of Donna Anna after her father's murder goes like "You'll have a husband and a father in me". Some might find it not a bit unsettling.
  • Values Dissonance:
    • "Batti, batti" can come off as crass to modern listeners, with how it seems to make light of and even condone domestic violence. These days, it's usually played as though Zerlina is seducing Masetto. Sellars's 1990 modern production went the opposite direction, making it even more serious, as a commentary on how abuse victims often have no choice but to stay with abusers.
    • These days, Donna Elvira's one wild night of passion with Giovanni wouldn't ruin her chances at marriage. Generally speaking it is difficult for a modern audience to understand just how horrible Don Giovanni's behaviour is. In his time a "ruined" woman would be a social outcast with much difficulty in marrying or finding another way to support herself (and the possible child, as there is nothing that suggests Don Giovanni uses contraception). He is ruining these women's lives to satisfy his own lusts.
    • Mozart and Da Ponte's more moralistic intentions for the opera (as in the subtitle, Il dissolute punito - The Rake Punished) were this for 19th-centry critics, hence the Alternate Character Interpretations. These days, it's reversed: those interpretations come off as misogynistic and Completely Missing the Point about Donna Anna, while the original intentions fit more with contemporary feminist understandings of the time period and what Giovanni's actions would do to these women.
  • What an Idiot!: Masetto and Elvira fall victims to this during Act 2, immediately trusting that "Leporello" (the Don in disguise) is perfectly willing to kill his master (having been loyal until then) and that "Giovanni" (Leporello in disguise) is now quite ready to repent by marrying Elvira (disregarding the famous Catalogue Aria, which went through the Don's entire M.O.). The finale also qualifies: the characters believe Leporello's unlikely story about his master's demise in spite of his earlier lies; the only other proof is Elvira's off-handed remark about 'the ghost she saw' that no one even bothers to comment upon.
    • Don himself qualifies as this in the climax. It was implied by the commendatore that should Giovanni repent he would have caught a glimpse of what Heaven would be like. Whilst Don refused to hear of it and suffered the consequences.


How well does it match the trope?

Example of:


Media sources: