Don Juan – that irresistible ladies’ man and uninhibited libertine – is the archetype of the seducer in modern culture. From the Spanish play that introduced him to Mozart’s Don Giovanni, the story of a reckless heartbreaker who stops at nothing to seduce his prey has had its own share of interpretations. Although Don Juan’s story was a portrait of poor manners designed to shock, Molière (the French playwright and social critic) found himself drawn more to the unstoppable free thinker behind the seemingly ruthless rake. The story surrounding the stone guest’s visit and the protagonist’s subsequent descent into hell gave composer Christoph Willibald Gluck dramatic material to set to music. According to one contemporary, Gluck “composed the most excellent of music for his ballet Don Juan.”
Don Juan, as a figure, will never die. It is no small wonder that his legend still beckons today’s artists. French choreographer Thierry Malandain, who has led his own company for over thirty years, counts himself among their number. Since 1998, Malandain has made his artistic home in Biarritz, after stops in Versailles, St. Etienne, and Lyon. He is one of France’s most important living choreographers, and is one of the heirs to the neoclassical style. This two-part evening, which was invited to the Viennese State Ballet last season, also consists of Pas de deux, set to Mozart, which provides a counterpoint to Gluck’s Don Juan. “The pairs dance together at a lonely heart’s ball,” says Malandain, who promises to delight audiences in Leipzig.