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Program 537: The Death of Don Juan

KALW Broadcast Date: November 9, 2018 | Host: Liam Herb

On this Music From Other Minds, Liam Herb presents Elodie Lauten’s largely forgotten Post-Minimalist Opera, The Death of Don Juan. Elodie was born in Paris in 1950 and moved to New York in 1972. She was involved in many types of music and was a very close friend to the poet Allen Ginsberg. She died tragically in 2014 at the age of 63.

Lauten describes the work by saying, “The Death of Don Juan is about the myth rather than the story of Don Juan. In this work, he is an archetype, a symbol of human desire for freedom and transcendence. The setting is a screen reflecting Don Juan’s terminal experience as it unfolds in real time, as an apocalyptic replay of his past life as it comes back to him. Death appears to him in a vision in the form of a woman who speaks in tongues and whose multiples voices are those of the women he seduced. This confrontation with the female entity is a role reversal for Don Juan. The power is held by the opposite sex this time around. But he is at once seduced by the Death as a Woman and therefore unable to win his ultimate battle. Instead he begins to realize how barren he has made his life. His mind struggles with self-destruction and insanity. Only then is he able to understand the need for love, compassion, purity and sincerity, all of which he once found trivial. This awakening is his salvation. There is no hell for this Don Juan: he is able to forgive himself and be forgiven.”

Program Audio

30-Second Spot

Track Info & Links

Title: The Death of Don Juan: Complete Opera (Click Link for Track Listing)
Composer: Elodie Lauten
Performers: Randi Larowitz, Soprano; Elodie Lauten, Alto (Vocals), Contralto (Vocal), Fairlight CMI, Harpsichord; Arthur Russell, Cello, Tenor; Steven Sauber, Bass
Recording Title: The Death of Don Juan: An Opera in Two Acts
Record Label: Unseen Worlds
Catalog Number: UW04

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