Viva la libertà! – In our time, comparatively devoid of taboos and free of shame, where what was once urgently advocated enlightenment has been degraded to profitable obscenity, a theatrical character such as Don Giovanni is harder to understand and to stage than ever before.
It is his apparent proximity which leads to misunderstandings that are hard to unravel. Compared to the average porn-hardened twenty first century libertine, Don Giovanni is a romantic hero of metaphysical proportions. Sören Kierkegaard regarded him as an elemental force, related to Eros or Dionysus, an ancient God who owes his reawakening to the church. If the church reinforced the notion of the spirit, it did the same to sensuality by excluding it. If pleasure already existed in vegetable or animal form, then Christianity and the formulation of its opposite redefined it.
To put it another way, the opera Don Giovanni – at least on stage – relies on a world which expresses its respect for sexuality through repression and does not devalue it by means of perverted liberalism and an economically-driven freedom from taboos.