Cowgill, Rachel (1998) Re-Gendering the Libertine; or, The Taming of the Rake: Lucy Vestris as Don Giovanni on the Early Nineteenth-Century London Stage. Cambridge Opera Journal, 10 (1). pp. 45-66. ISSN 0954-5867
Abstract

When Luigi Bassi entered the stage of the Prague National Theatre in 1787 to create the title role of Mozart and Da Ponte's Don Giovanni, he could have drawn inspiration from a rich tradition of theatrical, pantomimic and marionette representations of the legendary Don Juan, to which this new opera was the latest contribution. Previous incarnations had been shaped by the likes of Tirso de Molina, Molière, Shadwell, Purcell and Gluck; yet it is Mozart and Da Ponte's version that has for us become the definitive: the Don as paradox; an uncomfortable blend of the despicable and the admirable, hero and anti-hero. Lecher, rapist, liar, cheat, murderer, he is the brutal epitome of macho striving for power and domination, yet clothed with a seductive panache, conviction and bravado — the reckless-heroic libertine phallocrat who would rather face the fires of eternal damnation than curb his appetites.

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