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Don Juan 14

Don Juan first appeared on stage almost four centuries ago, in 1630. The Spanish playwright Tirso de Molina combined two well-known stories that had become legendary in his country: the tale of the unscrupulous seducer's conquests and the story of the innocent victim's revenge who returns from his grave as a stone statue to avenge his murder. 

This dramatic material found its ultimate expression in Mozart's Don Giovanni, premiered in 1787, as a triumph of 'sensuous genius'. 

Molière's play Don Juan or the Feast of the Stone Statue (1665) is a comedy. It is the forerunner of 20th century adaptations - by Max Frisch, Bernard Shaw, Henry de Montherlant - in which the seducer is incapable of falling in love. As an observer of other people's happiness, he is but a shadow of his former self, as his seductions fail over and over again. But his concluding monologue, in which he discusses the 'art' of hypocrisy, demonstrates that he is only a hair's breadth away from Molière, who pointed out the 'virtuous sins' of his time.

'Hypocrisy is a trendy sin, so like all trendy sins, it is a virtue', says Aleksandar Popovski, who returns to the National Theatre after directing The Master and Margarita. – This is the basic idea of Don Juan's last monologue, which reflects Molière's scathing view of hypocrisy. Interestingly, some other qualities criticised or praised in his plays also become the antitheses of his values, conforming to some unwritten rule. Much as Molière wanted to 'tarnish' Don Juan's character, he actually elicited sympathy from the audience, and eventually turned Don Juan into a hero. A hero who does not comply with life's conventional rules, and who in the end, is condemned by those 'rules' to burn in hell. Donna Elvira's abduction from the convent, or Donna Anna's seduction at her husband's grave, point to Molière's personal relationship with God and the Church. Don Juan's drama thus presents a psychological analysis of the relationship between the world of humans and the superhuman spiritual realm.

Premiere: February 2023 • Main Stage

08 February 2023

Friday, 31 May 07:00 p.m.

Main Stage