Critical Analysis Of Mozarts Don Giovanni

We ‘re transported to 17th century Spain for what has been called the greatest opera of all time composed – Don Giovanni! From the initial thundering chords of the breathtaking overture, this opera is filled with sexual heat, thrilling music and dramatic action. Indeed more action takes topographic point in scene one of Don Giovanni, than that of most operas. Within the first 15 proceedingss entirely ; a dissatisfied retainer, an attempted colza, a double, a slaying, a grieving girl, and an curse of retribution ensnare the audience!

Our narrative decently begins in the early 17th century, when the character ‘Don Juan ‘ made his phase introduction in a three act drama titled ‘El burlador de Sevilla y convidado de piedra ‘ ( The Trickster of Seville and the Stone Guest ) the drama was foremost performed in Madrid around 1624, but published in 1630. It appears under the name of a dramatist named Tirso de Molina ; nevertheless this was really the anonym of a Roman Catholic monastic named Gabriel Tellez. It was most likely written to show the issue of morality in relation to Don Juan ‘s amative surpluss. In 17th century Italy, it was a favourite narrative of the ‘commedia dell’arte ‘ . Moliere wrote a drama on the topic in Paris in 1655. And instead travel on decennary be decennary, we ‘ll skip frontward to 1787. A cardinal twelvemonth, non for Mozart ‘s Don Giovanni, but for the first public presentation in the metropolis of Venice of an opera called ‘Don Giovanni Tenorio, o sia Il convitato di pietra ‘ ( Don Giovanni and the Stone Guest ) the composer of this 1787 version was Giuseppe Gazzaniga and the Libretto was by Giovanni Bertati.

The following individual I ‘d wish to present to this image is Lorenzo district attorney Ponte ; the great tribunal poet in Vienna. Mozart had known of Da Ponte for a piece. Four old ages earlier in 1783, when Mozart was comparatively new in Vienna, he writes place to his male parent from Vienna that he ‘s after Da Ponte to compose a libretto for him, but he is so busy composing original opera libretti for some composers and accommodating preexistent libretti for other composers, it would be really more than two old ages before Mozart could trap down Da Ponte to work with him. When he did, Da Ponte provided him with the libretto for their first coaction the ‘Marriage of Figaro ‘ . It was composed between October of 1785 and April 1786 and was premiered in Vienna. It received success for a limited clip, before other productions came to take its topographic point. But as involvement in ‘Figaro ‘ waned in Vienna, there was another metropolis that was brainsick about the ‘Marriage of Figaro ‘ and that metropolis is Prague. ( Which at that clip, it was the 2nd most of import musical Centre in Europe )

Mozart went to Prague in January of 1787 ; it marked the beginning of a passionate relationship between him and Prague. Among other things Mozart conducted a public presentation of ‘Figaro ‘ at the Opera house during his stay. On the seventeenth of January he writes to his friend and pupil Baron Gottfried von Jacquin he says ; “ I saw with the greatest pleasance all the people in the dance hall dancing with such delectation to the music of my ‘Figaro ‘ . For here in Prague nil is talked of but ‘Figaro ‘ , nil is played Sung or whistled but ‘Figaro ‘ No opera is pulling like ‘Figaro ‘ . Nothing, nil but ‘Figaro ‘ . Surely a great award for me! ”

On pes of the success of ‘Figaro ‘ , comes a committee of an opera for the undermentioned season ( nine months clip ) . That opera would be ‘Don Giovanni ‘ , which was written to be premiered in Prague as portion of the jubilations for the matrimony of the Archduchess Maria Theresa ( niece of the Emperor Joseph II ) to Prince Anton Clemens of Saxony. Mozart was delighted to accept this new committee and, of course asked Da Ponte to fall in him on the undertaking.

As it happened, Da Ponte was already to a great extent committed, working on two librettos Tarare ( for Salieri ) and L’arbore di Diana ( for Martin y Soler ) . But he excessively was greatly attracted by the juncture and he was strongly drawn to the capable affair ( his friendly relationship with Casanova, was now about to pay dividends ) this is what Da Ponte himself says about his pick of topic for Mozart “ For Mozart I chose ‘Don Giovanni ‘ a subject which appealed to me tremendously. In working on Don Giovanni, I shall believe of Dante ‘s snake pit ” This is a fantastic image, the great Lorenzo district attorney Ponte, tribunal poet of Vienna, the great operatic librettist. You picture him sitting, inspired by, reflecting on, and immersing into the deepnesss and the enigmas of Dante.

The really simple fact is, he was likely believing a batch more about the libretto that Bertati had written for Gazzaniga in Venice. Da Ponte knows about that libretto and it ‘s really clear that he draws really freely from it, he ‘s non about to compose something from abrasion if he does n’t hold to. But in equity to Da Ponte everything he touches gets better, which in artistic circles is what you like to see go oning ‘he borrows and repays the debt with involvement ‘ .

So back to the history of Don Giovanni and its chief character ; this is a peculiarly concise study of the quintessential Don Juan character ; he is the prototype of the modern age, an expansive type who is determined to bask the universe, Immeasurably self cognizant, defiant of all signifiers of authorization and opposed to all higher order – he is in consequence a corporate C.E.O. !

Beethoven although he greatly admired the music of this opera, he really famously stated the he could non convey himself to compose an opera on a topic so “ immoral ” as either ‘Figaro ‘ or ‘Don Giovanni ‘ .However. this is non to state that Mozart shared Don Giovanni ‘s moral values. In a missive Mozart writes to his male parent shortly after he arrives in Vienna he says “ the voice of nature speaks as loud in me as it does in others, louder possibly, but I merely can non populate as most work forces do these yearss, in the first topographic point ; I have excessively much faith, in the 2nd topographic point ; excessively great a love of my neighbour and excessively high a feeling of award to score an guiltless miss and so in the 3rd topographic point ; I have excessively much horror and disgust, excessively much apprehension and fright of diseases ” Mozart ; an 18th century practician of safe sexaˆ¦aˆ¦.who knew?

Now, taking a expression at the opera, there ‘s been a batch of critical treatment over the old ages. Musicologists and critics of all types have written extensively about Don Giovanni and one cardinal issue that ever seems to look is the inquiry ‘Is it a tragic opera? ( opera Seria ) or is it a amusing opera? ( opera Buffa ) ‘ and the simple fact is that what it truly comes down to is that it is both! And the strength is that it can be both of them, the apposition of the tragic and the amusing heightens the consequence of both. This said, it ‘s non merely the alternation between tragic and amusing but the fact that Mozart is frequently able to hold both aspects displayed at the same time. In this respect he has the ideal confederate in the signifier of Lorenzo Da Ponte, because Da Ponte is frequently praised by his supporters for his ability to interweave the tragic and the amusing elements. It ‘s interesting to observe that Mozart himself labeled this opera as a ‘drama giocoso ‘ ( Playful play ) which reflects what he understands the opera to be.

To give an illustration of the apposition between the tragic and the amusing I foremost have to give you a sense of Mozarts gifts of word picture, because that is what a great opera composer has to hold at his or her disposal. The ability non merely to define a character in music, sometimes in the instrumental music even before they open their oral cavities to sing, but besides the ability to somehow express different emotional provinces of that character in the class of the opera. So to give an illustration of a contrast of emotional provinces ; the couple that follows the decease of the ‘Commendatore ‘ , his girl ‘Donna Anna ‘ is rather understandably disturbance and agitated. Her betroved ‘Don Ottavio ‘ is much more in control and in their music you hear their emotional provinces – she is agitated and he is unagitated.

Here ‘s what they sound like in their couple: Path 1

You do n’t hold to understand what their vocalizing in Italian to recognize that she ‘s agitated and he ‘s calmer because you hear it reflected in what they sing.

If you talk about the look of powerful emotions in music, which is something that besides matters here. To get down with one thing you should cognize about Mozart, is that he was really much a adult male of the authoritative period ; in which elegance, balance, restraint and proportion were the stock and trade of the composer. This besides extended to his representation of strong emotions. There ‘s a celebrated missive that he writes to his male parent, when he is composing his first Viennese phase work ‘The abduction from the soraleo ‘ in which there is a ugly gate keeper at the poshes palace whose name is Ozmide, he has an aria of fury directed at a adult male who ‘s seeking to deliver his girlfriend signifier the Hero and Mozart composing to his male parent says “ yes the emotions that are expressed here are utmost, but the music must ne’er lose itself ” That ‘s one thing you have to recognize, there will be subsequently operatic composers who will travel over the top with their music, when the emotions go over the top, but the musical scope within which Mozart operates, suggests that even at the most utmost, emotions ne’er lose the properness of the music that is showing them. The musical scope is different from what you might meet in Wagner or in Twentieth century but Mozart knows precisely what he ‘s making and the shading of these degrees is what it ‘s all about.

Now in act two of Don Giovanni its Don Ottavio who swears retribution for the decease of the ‘Commendatore ‘ he sings the aria ‘il mio tesoro ‘ the text begins ‘go and comfort my hoarded wealth and seek to dry the cryings from her lovely eyes. ‘ I mention this aria because I want you to hear a small of what many consider to be the finest recording of it of all time made, which is interesting because it was recorded in 1916 by the great Irish tenor John McCormack: Path 2

We ‘ve truly set the phase now for what I mentioned earlier about the apposition of the tragic and the amusing elements. After the couple you heard earlier, Don Giovanni and Leperello ( Don ‘s Servant ) return to the phase and we return to the Opera Buffa manner. Donna Elvira so sings a really serious and dramatic aria, it ‘s of import to observe that in every aria except this one by Donna Elvira, the vocalist is turn toing person else on the phase. This makes her aria the operatic equivalent of a dramatic monologue. It is intense, and yet the strength is undercut by the fact that the fact that Don Giovanni and Leperello are off to the side of the phase eavesdropping and doing remarks about what she has to state: Track 3

What makes this convention even more elegant is that the topographic points where Don Giovanni and Leperello are doing their side remarks are precisely the topographic points where you would usually hold an orchestral chorus marking what she ‘s stating. So he ‘s utilizing the conventional signifier, but he ‘s writhing it somewhat which once more undercuts the dramatic strength.

Now back to the original drama by Tirso de Molina, if you take a expression at that you find that at the terminal Don Juan with his deceasing breath says that Elvira is ‘virgo intacta ‘ ( a virgin ) which makes her the lone adult female in the original drama who gets through untasted. In Da Pontes libretto though, things are really different. As a affair of fact another repeating subject in the critical analyses of this opera is ; overpowering deficiency of success on behalf of the rubric character. Legendary loveraˆ¦aˆ¦.where ‘s it go oning?

Here ‘s a digest of remarks on this topic made through the old ages:


“ The action portrays anything but a successful sexual adventurer ”


“ The cheerful tone that runs through the whole opera depends chiefly on the rebuffs with which the hero is continually made on the field of the heroic workss ”


“ Of all the Don Juans of literature and of play, that of Da Ponte is professionally the most ineffectual ”



“ You can understand Don Giovanni as a professional Athlete with a really high batting norm. That he encounters defeats within the opera, simple shows how hard the athletics is “


“ Every clip Don Giovanni is absent from the phase you should see a conquering is taking topographic point. We are accustomed to offense sensing in prose ; this is sin sensing with all the major hints in the music and plentifulness of others in the Italian ”

It would look like the last writers reading is at odds with the purposes of our librettist Mr. Da Ponte, I say that because in that libretto that Giovanni Bertati wrote for Gazzaniga the conquerings are expressed and open. Lorenzo district attorney Ponte decides that he will chant down the noticeability of the amative conquerings in his version of the narrative.

We believe in his seductive powers by virtuousness of what he says and how he sings it, which of class is what opera is all about. The couple ‘la curie darem La mano ‘ is an illustration of Don Giovanni ‘s seductive capablenesss: Path 4

A adult male named Edward Dent ( Who wrote a celebrated book on Mozart Operas ) he says “ After Don Giovanni himself, by far the most interesting character would be Donna Elvira ” One of her finest minutes is really interesting musically because it is Mozart specifically stepping out of the manner of his clip and stepping back to the manner of Handel. Often you would happen a composer in any period to be slightly conservative in their musical manner if they ‘re composing sacred music ; the thought of making back and arousing a certain eternity and antediluvian quality that serves the text. Well here we ‘re in the class of an opera, but it ‘s clear that he likely wants to do this come across like a discourse because what she ‘s vocalizing is ‘flea the treasonist, do n’t listen to what he says, his lips are lying 1s, his eyes lead oning ” and he crafts it in the manner of a Handel aria: Path 5

And so merely another indicant of the music assortment you find here a really simple melody Batti Batti ( Beat me, crush me ) is rendered less fiddling by an obbligato solo cello: Path 6

The effectivity of that cello leads us into the whole inquiry of orchestral coloring material. When we think of the play and the power of Mozarts music the first thing of class that comes to mind of class is tune, the most ineluctable portion of an operas mark. But so there ‘s the harmoniousness which we sometimes do n’t believe about every bit much as the tune but besides exerts a powerful influence, but besides orchestration ; the usage of changing colorss in changing state of affairss, which even if we ‘re non believing about consciously exerts a really powerful subliminal consequence on us.

Here ‘s a really nice illustration ; orchestral coloring materials used to literally paint an island of rest in the three ‘proteggia if giusto cielo ” ( may merely heaven protect my determined bosom ) the strings bead out and the vocalists are accompanied merely by the air currents. You can truly acquire the sense that you are somewhere else: Path 7

But the most of import instrumental point of involvement has to make with trombones. In Mozart ‘s clip, trombones by and large belonged to church music and non to the theater. Equally far as their usage in symphonic music it is non until Beethoven ‘s 5th symphonic music ( 20 one old ages subsequently ) that the trombone made its first visual aspect in a symphonic music. So to set yourself in the places of the Prague audience ‘I know trombones but I think of them as belonging to the church ‘ so how does he utilize them here? Mozart associates them with the statue of the commendatore, the statue that is traveling to come to life, and when it comes to life in the cemetery scene that ‘s when the trombones appear. You can be certain the audience in those yearss we ‘re terrified: Track 8

And when the statue comes to Don Giovanni ‘s feast he brings his trombones: Path 9

When the statue that has come to life shows up with his trombones, the music is non new to us because we ‘ve already heard it in the overture, and what is really, really important about this ; it is the lone clip in Mozarts full operatic calling that he writes an overture that begins with a slow debut. The obvious ground why he does it in this instance is because he wants to give us a gustatory sensation of that terrorizing music at the really beginning: Path 10

It ‘s interesting to observe that the dark before the premiere of Don Giovanni ; Mozart had to remain up all dark to compose the overture which harmonizing to a member of his orchestra “ had non even been sketched ” !

Another fantastic point of involvement, a really celebrated transition in Don Giovanni, which is a contemplation of Mozarts experience composing dance music for the dance halls of imperial Vienna that is where he at the same time gives us three different dances stand foring three different degrees of society. Mozart who we all know could work things out in his caput and spit it out on the paper without attempt really made studies for this, it was something he really had to believe about. It ‘s the same consequence that Charles Ives is traveling to make slightly subsequently. The thought of standing in a certain topographic point with different ensembles playing, you hear them at the same time and the soundscape is the complex of three different elements. This is what it sounds like in Don Giovanni: Path 11

Now that ‘s coincident combination, I ‘d wish to besides state you about a sort of back-to-back apposition of things which is really interesting, it represents a small of the ‘in ‘ temper of what ‘s traveling on here ; we are about at the terminal of the opera, and we ‘re in the feast hall of Don Giovanni whose ain personal orchestra is playing. The first melody they play is the act one coda of Martin y Soler ‘s ( one of Mozart coevalss, and another composer inquiring Da Ponte for a liberetto ) opera ‘Una cosa rara ‘ so you ‘ll hear the recognition of ‘cosa rara ‘ : Track 12

Then they play an extract from an opera of another one of his coevalss named Is due littiganti by Sarti. Leperello cheers the choice, Don Giovanni merely tells him to pour more vino: Path 13

There is a basic regulation of temper or comedy authorship that is ; ‘set up, set up and punch line ‘ , Mozart knows how to make that! We have ‘something ‘ by Martin, ‘something ‘ by Sarti, the 3rd thing that Don Giovanni ‘s orchestra dramas is ‘non piu andrai ‘ from the Marriage of Figaro. Now of class every individual individual in that audience in Prague would hold instantly recognised it from the first few notes because as we know these were the melodies to which they were singing, whistling, humming, dancing etc. these were the melodies that took over Prague before Don Giovanni! How does Leperello react he says ‘I know that melody ‘troppo ‘ ( excessively good ) ‘ : Track 14

Since I ‘ve already given away the stoping of the opera, I will play some of the music that accompanies Don Giovanni ‘s descent into snake pit… … .through a trap door in the phase, which is a lesson to all of us to mind of trap doors in phases, because you know where they lead! Again with orchestral effects and an wing chorus, it perfectly terrified the audiences of Wolfgang amadeus mozarts clip: Path 15

There ‘s a celebrated narrative told of a slightly ‘out of form ‘ Don who got stuck in the trap door on the manner down, and no affair what he did, he could n’t force himself either manner, at which point person in the audience yelled out “ Hurray boys, hells full! ”

I ‘d wish to shut by presenting and replying a inquiry, obvious in the visible radiation of the history that I ‘ve provided you with, and that is ; after it was performed in Prague, how did Don Giovanni carnival in Vienna? Well seven months after the exultant public presentations in Prague, it premiered in Vienna, but unluckily the response was slightly cool. The Emperor said to Da Ponte “ The opera is godly, I would even venture that it is more beautiful that ‘Figaro ‘ but such music is non meat to the dentition of my Viennese ” and the narrative goes that Da Ponte relayed this message back to Mozart and his answer was “ good allow them masticate on it ” . So Happy Chew!

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