“It’s an opera of the now,” said director A. Scott Parry. “It’s real human beings going through real experiences on stage in real time. It’s geared heavily towards entertainment. I would love for people to forget everything they think they know or associate with opera before they attend.”
“Don Giovanni” is the Italian opera based off the legend of Don Juan, which originated in 17th century Spain. It tells the story of a young, arrogant womanizer of high social standing and his interactions with women and the world around him.
“When you refer to somebody as a Don Giovanni or Don Juan, it’s just something that’s kind of ubiquitous in our culture and immediately gives you an idea of who that person is. And the opera really digs into that aspect of the human condition,” Parry said.
Brian Hupp, a graduate student in vocal performance,, who will be playing the lead role of Don Giovanni, said the themes are directly relatable to college students so much so that “Don Giovanni” was easily adapted for a university campus setting.
“‘Giovanni’ could definitely be portrayed as an arrogant frat boy trying to make his way around all the sorority houses,” he said. “That’s, I think, what makes the story so important. Everybody knows someone who is that Don Giovanni character in real life.”
Parry said the dramatic comedy has touched innumerable aspects of culture since it was composed and is considered to be a “pinnacle of elements.”
“It’s not just music and drama put together. It goes beyond that to explore good versus evil and the difference between masculinity and femininity,” he said.
Audiences will also not be distracted by traditional 17th century sets or costumes, as the production has been updated to take place in 1960s Italy.
“You’ll definitely be able to tell we’re in the ‘60s. We’ve got skinny ties and black suits and things like that. People will be able to focus less on what we’re wearing and more on what’s going on,” Hupp said.
“Don Giovanni” will be performed in Italian, and Parry is aware of the audience apprehension that comes with any foreign language, “but with the supertitles being projected off to the side, it will almost be just like watching a foreign film,” he said. “And much of the humor transcends language. The comedy is strong, and the audience will understand a lot of it without the translations.”
Parry’s ultimate goal in directing “Don Giovanni” is to “always have a balance between art and entertainment.”
“When you have one without the other, you come up empty. What’s the point in creating something beautiful and artistic if it doesn’t have that entertainment factor for your audience? It’s important to produce something of value, but if your audience is not entertained, your purpose becomes lessened,” he said.
“Don Giovanni” is slated to hit the stage at the Drake Performance and Event Center on Friday at 7:30 p.m. and Sunday at 3 p.m. Tickets are available through the theatre box office at $10 for students, faulty and staff, $20 for general public. Tickets are also available through Ticketmaster.
Editor’s note: This article has been updated to correct ticket prices.