Old Tale, New Perspectives
Minnesota Opera’s Don Giovanni
The story of Mozart’s Don Giovanni has been presented for hundreds of years across the world. Featuring an infamously charismatic and layered title character, Don Giovanni tells a story of mortality, justice, and destruction. The artistic choices and collaboration that have led to Minnesota Opera’s new production of Don Giovanni highlight the work of the talented stage director, Keturah Stickann. We recently spoke with Stickann about the importance of retelling a narration that has been told countless times before, her creative processes, and the lessons she hopes audiences will take away from this production.
Regarding Don Giovanni, Stickann describes the tale as “timeless” in its origin and approach. Though Mozart’s compositions were written over 200 years ago, they are still renowned and beloved in our day and age.
This is largely because the themes within his works ring true to our current realities and experiences. The core of Don Giovanni is representing a raw humanity that cannot be lost on people. Stickann sees the significance of presenting 200+ year old works, such as Don Giovanni, due to their mutability. She states, “it’s our responsibility to find ways to present them that are continually forward-facing.” Stickann emphasizes the value of looking back at beautiful works like Don Giovanni that may seem far removed from our current world, but have strong themes of corruption, love, and freedom—all topics which continue to have relevance in our lives today.
Stickann touches on the significance of women taking control of the narrative in this telling of Don Giovanni. As many female characters such as Donna Anna are depicted as emotional or unintelligent, Stickann finds it important to give a voice to these characters in this production. She remarks, “When we turn these ideas on their head, start believing the women, and show them being in charge of their own decisions, we get a more well-rounded story and a more satisfying ending as Don Giovanni is dragged to hell.” In Minnesota Opera’s production, Stickann emphasizes the importance of allowing women a sense of agency in this narration. Much of the work that Stickann focuses on involves an act of reforming and evolving what’s traditionally been done to highlight elements of the story which have gone untold.
There’s a reason the tale of Don Giovanni draws people in time and time again and Keturah Stickann hopes audiences will gain something from this new production. For Stickann, the messages within Don Giovanni and the authenticity of the characters are principal: “I hope audiences see how the collective can strip away corrupt power. The world is full of Don Giovannis, and we must listen to and believe the women who call them out.” She highlights how these characters are reflections of real people and the production itself brings an awareness to the injustices of our own world. By showing the flaws and imperfections within humans, the artistic team, including Stickann, strive to bring a sense of humanity to the production of Don Giovanni that anyone can relate to.
Minnesota Opera’s Don Giovanni runs May 6–21 at the Ordway Center for the Arts. Get your tickets today!
Photos by Steven Garcia