CD debut of this 1985 post-minimal landmark by Elodie Lauten, featuring performances by Arthur Russell and Peter Zummo. Lauten has been active in the downtown New York classical and punk scenes since moving from France in the 1970s. The Death of Don Juan is a breakthrough for its bold, lyrical minimalism in concert with a dramatic sensibility that is deeply faithful to the modern existential emotional experience. Originally self-produced and released as a small LP edition on her own label, it has been touted ever since by Kyle Gann, who adds notes to this edition, and was recently included on one of Alan Licht’s Minimal Top Ten lists.
“a complete experimental work of opera that doesn’t seem much like an experiment, and even less like an opera — instead we get a multi-faceted, thoughtful slice of modern composition and a high point for second-wave minimalism.” – North Coast Journal
“This is one of the great lost experimental records of the 80s. Lauten has been around since the 70s, going back and forth between Paris and New York. The Death of Don Juan is an opera, in the avant garde sense, but I honestly prefer it to any of Robert Ashley’s operas or the Philip Glass ones (except Einstein). There’s a Fairlight on most of the record, but fear not, as you would never know that it dates from 80s. The first two tracks sound like Joe Jones meets Glass or Steve Reich, with harpsichords, trine (an electric lyre that Lauten invented) and Arthur Russell’s cello. “Death As A Shadow” recalls Meredith Monk’s “Turtle Dreams” but is even more haunting and doomy. Russell’s vocal on “Death As A Woman” even reminds me of Moondog 2 and sounds unlike any of his other work. Even the libretto is fab-A+” – Alan Licht