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Subject: Don't Be Anal About "The Don"
From: "Max D. Winter" <[log in to unmask]>
Reply-To:Max D. Winter
Date:Mon, 24 Oct 2016 11:46:21 -0400

text/plain (39 lines)

Yes, yes, we all know that Don Giovanni's name is not "Don."  We also know that "Don" is a 
title and that, in correct usage, one does not use the title without following it with the 
Christian name.  And we also know that we don't refer to Donna Anna or Donna Elvira as 
"The Donna" or to Don Ottavio or Don Somebodies in opera as "The Don" and we also know 
that this is not consistent with referring to DG as "The Don."  In fact, most if not all of us 
know quite well that referring to DG as "The Don" is not a correct form of address, and we 
certainly would not use it referring to someone in real life.  

So sue us.

The fact is, referring to the title character of Mozart's "Don Giovanni" as "The Don" is not a 
reflection of ignorance about, or lack of respect for, correct usage.  Rather, it is a kind of 
colloquial, even affectionate, shorthand for the unique title character of a unique opera, of 
the kind that one frequently finds in common cultural usages.  (Like referring to a Lord 
Somebody as "His Nibs.")   And I think it is silly to be anal about it.  I have heard John 
Ardoin, not exactly an ignoramus, refer to DG as "The Don."  I don't use the term myself, 
but I have no problem with other people using it, and I would not want to be so annoyingly 
pedantic as to correct them on the point.  (I'm annoyingly pedantic in other respects, 
perhaps, such as about using split infinitives or about using "which" versus "that," but not 
about "The Don.")

Now I'm waiting for someone to tell me that I shouldn't refer to Giovanni as a "Christian" 
name because it is not necessarily Christian, and that Don Giovanni himself almost surely 
was not one.


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