Encounter with Don Giovanni


This curious “encounter” had much to do with our Russian friend Yuri Sobolev. In the summers of the late 80s and early 90s when he used to visit Switzerland we often sat outside and chatted about artistic ideas. One of these was Yuri's “Buddha”, a graphic structure for drawing a sitting Buddha:

Yuri's Buddha
Yuri's Buddha

In almost all of Yuri's pictures from this period there are a random selection of tiny circles, drawn where lines of this diagram cross (although the diagram itself is seldom shown)—see, for example, his Don Giovanni.

Don Goivanni - Juri Sobolev
Don Goivanni - Yuri Sobolev

Since both Yuri and Mischa were greatly preoccupied with the theme of Don Juan at this time I was also inspired to do something with Mozart's Don Giovanni and with Yuri's sitting Buddha—so arose the idea of an Encounter with Don Giovanni.

The Encounter with Don Giovanni is a meeting on many levels:

  • My meeting with Mozart, my deep admiration for the expressiveness and elegance of his music
  • A meeting of historical periods, an attempt to combine styles of the 18th and 20th centuries
  • And the strangest of all meetings—of Don Giovanni and Buddha: the insatiable restlessness matched against the transfigured self sufficiency.

Yuri's Buddha diagram determined much of the form of my piece:

  • The introduction, the “basis” of the diagram, uses material from Mozart's Overture.
  • Erde (earth) is built on material from the first scene (the death of the Comptor)
  • Wasser (water) has several quotations from the Don's amorous adventures
  • Feuer (fire) contains Don Giovanni's encounter with the statue of the Comptor
  • Luft and Aether (air and ether) from the celebration of the people after Don Giovanni's death.