Progress in the recording of Don Juan

The image shows Cather­ine the Great in a walk­ing cloak; paint­ed by V.Borovikovskiy about 1794

It’s nine months at least since I last post­ed here: not what read­ers expect, of course, so I assume I have no read­ers any more. Alas! My own fault.

But I have not been quite so idle on the record­ing front. One way or anoth­er, in fits and starts (most­ly ‘fits’), I’m get­ting through the Can­tos. The last I report­ed on here was Can­to III. But I’ve also record­ed Can­to IV and Can­tos VI through IX. I record­ed Can­to I, Can­to V and Can­tos XIII-XVI for Lib­rivox sev­er­al years ago. I’ve left until last a sec­ond vis­it to those can­tos. I also have (re-)recordings of I and II that I made a cou­ple of years back in my planned series of iBooks (a project dropped after the illus­trat­ed, read-aloud Can­to I failed to sell: it is now avail­able for free down­load).

Can­to IX, set around 1790, sees Juan, the ‘hero’ of the bat­tle of Ismail (Rus­sia vs Ottoman Turks), as the toy-boy of an age­ing — but amorous — Empress Cather­ine the Great of Rus­sia. The Can­to is an hilar­i­ous, clever, scan­dalous satire on sex and impe­r­i­al pow­er with a few Byron­ic rock­ets for the reac­tionary gov­ern­ment of 1820’s Eng­land. Juan is flat­tered by the Empress’ atten­tion and, nat­u­ral­ly, ful­ly capa­ble of ful­fill­ing the duties of his ‘post’ (… yes, there are plen­ty of dou­ble enten­dres and para­phras­es of bawdy Roman verse that edu­cat­ed Eng­lish men and women of the Regency no doubt rec­og­nized). But he falls ill in the Russ­ian snows and is giv­en an embassy to Eng­land as a reward for his ‘ser­vices’ to Catherine.

I am now record­ing Can­to X, com­posed in 1822. It brings Juan, as a Russ­ian speak­ing Spaniard, to Lon­don; the city Byron had fled sev­en years before. Some of his finest satire is just ahead.

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