|A scene from Don Giovanni as performed at the Kings Theatre (Photo credit: Wikipedia)|
In the 18th century, women were given intellectual and artistic liberties as long as they were discrete. Their sitting rooms of the aristocracy had male servants and ladies-in-waiting. The dual existence was to show that their devotion to their husbands took precedence. Donna Anna was engaged to get married though she had been "scorned" by Don Giovanni. It would have put her aristocratic standing in question. Donna Elvira was also supposed to get married She was in constant conflict with Don Giovanni. Their love-hate relationship prevailed throughout the opera.
Sexual freedom was part of the social etiquette in the period of Enlightenment. It was quite common for both men and women to have discrete extramarital affairs in 18th century Europe. Mozart's wife tolerated his affairs only with the servant girls. She would not allow him to philanderer with the aristocrats or other women from the social elite. One must understand Mozart often wrote his female roles for specific women with whom he had a relationship. He was the man who had never found his mother. It was well-known.
Don Giovanni was never discrete. He had not come from the aristocratic class. Mozart was a Don Giovanni in disguise. He was not terribly discrete and he was still considered part of the court. He had his patron and worked under the orders of the Prince or the Church who employed him at the time of his musical composition.
By the end of the first act of the opera, the three women unite together to show they are capable of existing without the need of their male counterparts. In the second act, they work to get Don Giovanni.
Donna Anna, who was engaged, would have had a waiting room with either a man-servant or a lady-in-waiting. She was an strong-willed young woman who obviously pretended as though she had been humiliated. Don Giovanni would never have had access to her inner chambers. Donna Anna shows her aristocratic intelligence by running down the stair singing she had been scorned. Perhaps it was only her pride or ego which had been insulted. She is the stronger of the two showing Don Giovanni running away from her. Mozart liked strong, intelligent women.
Donna Elvira also is a strong-willed aristocratic woman who had been deceived two times by Don Giovanni. She unites with Donna Anna. The two of them go looking for him. They find themselves at a tavern. Mozart mixed the social classes again. Don Giovanni who had tried to get into the aristocratic class is now singing to Zerlina, a young tavern girl who was also supposed to be engaged. Mozart shows three women who are off-limits to the outside world.
The three men in the opera can be analyzed as weak and capricious. At the end of the 2nd act, the three women see Don Giovanni for whom he really was He is a young weak man who never gets what he wants. He goes after women who are impossible to have. The father who becomes the stone statue when he loses his life in a dual asks for Don Giovanni to repent. When he refuses, the Commendatore pulls him into the earth. Perhaps they both have been pulled into hell?
The opera shows the social tension. The pride of the woman's public reputation is more important than her own personal integrity. The duality of reputation over sexual freedom behind doors is used by Donna Anna to her benefit. She frees herself from Don Giovanni and she keeps her reputation. No one will ever know what happened. Donna Elvira forgives Don Giovanni and asks him to change his ways. He loses interest in her. Donna Elvira spends her life in a convent. Zerlina is free to go back to her fiancé. Donna Anna refuses requests to get married as her father only just died. Did she want her freedom as Mozart implied, or did she want to respect the year custom after a parent died? Mozart made a mockery of the different social customs
Mozart made a courageous stand by showing that women's existence did not depend on men. Women stood together and achieved what they were after. In the opera, the three women stand together. Mozart was ahead of his time. They were strong, vibrant women who took control. Don Giovanni, the frustrated young man, looks for the mother he never finds. Mozart was a prolific composer who died a pauper. His infatuation with women and his low esteem for men would be the vice which would be his downfall.