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Don Giovanni – Is Mozart Dealing with Father Problems Musically?

Translated by Katja Schütt and Alan Schmukler

 

Don Giovanni (complete title: Il dissoluto punito, ossia il Don Giovanni, literally The Rake Punished, or Don Giovanni) is an opera in two acts with music by Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart and Italian libretto by Lorenzo Da Ponte. The opera’s subject is Don Juan, the notorious libertine of fiction, and his eventual descent into hell. Who was that masked man? As the legendary rake Don Juan leaves a trail of jilted lovers and mayhem in his wake, Mozart’s alternately mischievous and harrowing masterpiece of mistaken identity reveals the charmer’s darkest side. With an ingeniously playful staging of masquerades, trapdoors and mirrored panels, witness the genre’s most infamous scoundrel in this timeless classic of comedy and tragedy. It was premiered by the Prague Italian opera at the Teatro di Praga (now called the Estates Theatre) on October 29, 1787. Da Ponte’s libretto was billed, like many of its time, as dramma giocoso, a term that denotes a mixing of serious and comic action. Mozart entered the work into his catalogue as an opera buffa. Although sometimes classified as comic, it blends comedy, melodrama and supernatural elements. For Mozart, it was an unusually intense work, and it was not entirely understood in his own time. Within a generation, however, it was recognized as one of the greatest of all operas.

Among Mozart’s operas, Don Giovanni always occupied an exceptional position because of the dark attitude or the dark side of the hero. Mozart’s father had died, so was this Mozart’s answer to reconcile with him? Homeopathy provides a new way of understanding the story.

 

DON GIOVANNIDON GIOVANNI

What’s happening:

It’s a story of a debauchee who finally gets invited into the afterworld by the deceased father of one of his lovers, wherefrom he dies, understandably: “Those die who did evil.”

Upon closer inspection we perceive something else. The whole story is only about his disappointment with women. His erotic career is only sung about by his servant and this at the behest of his master. It’s a tragic story full of failures. Finally, women and men who were victims, plot together to murder him. The death sentence is given by them. When Don Giovanni disturbs the peace of the dead by making undue noise at the cemetery, he is reminded of the statue of the father he murdered. The statue appears and tells Don Giovanni to   “repent”.

A unilateral act, a moral statement, a gorgeous piece of music. The opera displays a Mozart as not seen in his other operas, dark, almost bored with the repetitions of grief, revenge and self-pity. The hero is a character without manliness or morality, with only the erotic, seeking women and fearing men.

What do we find when analyzing this content homeopathically? Which principle is illustrated here? There is a clear moral order which is simply disregarded by the hero. We see sexual obsession which degraded the hero to a brainless debauchee who only thinks to find his successes. The “Register-Aria” describes his successes with women in three-digit numbers. He is a man who is completely unable to bond, to connect. The order which he ignores, defeats him. The father, the man of respect, reaches for him from beyond the grave.

In the end, everything is all right again. Donna Elvira goes into the abbey, Don Oktavio is happy and relieved that he now doesn’t have to murder his stepfather’s murderer, and that “the heaven” did this for him.

Thus our character has a “lack of moral feeling”, an “insatiable sex drive, “infidelity”, dishonesty, egoism, even a “self-cult”. Other people’s feelings are “made to look silly”.

Considering this, Lycopodium seems to be displayed and adding “dictatorial” it becomes obvious that also other figures display this remedy’s character. There is the father who rushes to help his threatened daughter, although she has a fiancée who could do this. We see the vilified Donna Anna who advises her fiancée to kill Don Giovanni. The servant Leporello talks big and is full of criticism when his master is absent but soon changes when getting gifts and money.

When considering the assumption that Mozart had worked through his father issues by means of Don Giovanni, the circle of thoughts closes. Mozart’s father had died without having reconciled with his son.

Lycopodium is generally viewed as a “father-remedy”, as about accepting authority. In my opinion Lycopodium is about dealing with power. The sharp mind surely knows about human inadequacy and can admit it only with difficulties and therefor needs protection by means of a power structure. I think that homeopathy’s opponents today are very much like Lycopodium. Homeopathy is about accepting a power which can’t be measured with the usual measurement methods and therefore eludes control and domination. This could be an explanation for the many emotional debates. Voegli once said: “For aversion to homeopathy, Lycopodium is the main remedy.”

 

Afterthoughts:

Can we see view Don Giovanni so simply? On further consideration, something doesn’t seem to fit the picture. I found that some of Don Giovanni’s behavior wasn’t much like Lycopodium. When the statue in the cemetery asked him to give her his hand to accept the invitation ….he said “I’ve never dodged a danger!” This gesture sealed his doom.

It is said that Lycopodium is associated with a certain freedom. But here he displays typical character traits from Acidum fluoricum. Fluoric acid is a hot, destructive remedy. Hydrofluoric acid is acrid and attacks glass and bones. It is assigned miasmatically to Syphilis. It is indicated for people or ailments which “omit something”. Moreover, it is a remedy for psychoses. People psychically ill, suffering from multiple personalities can benefit from this remedy.

Multiple personalities or occupations mean that a man is “not alone” in his head so to speak. He acts as if controlled by someone else. A further mind symptom worth mentioning is the inclination to death and dying. One could think about whether this could be a remedy which benefits people who are occupied with death and dying in their profession – be it workers in the hospice, morticians or cemetery gardeners.

DON GIOVANNI1And what about Don Giovanni? He exhausts himself in his always dissatisfied sexual desire. He doesn’t take the afterworld seriously – otherwise he wouldn’t disturb their rest in death. He deals with the statue’s invitation as if it could be something new. He doesn’t have any feelings for horrible or weird things. And in this way he finally perishes… quite destructive.

The view of Mozart’s contemporaries, that he was processing his father’s death, holds a certain logic.

His father shaped him, encouraged him, cared for him – and withdrew when Mozart found his own style and did not accept his father’s interference in his future and the choice of his wife. His father died without having reconciled with his son. The dead father appears from the afterworld to punish and destroy the young man – Don Giovanni in this case.