Monday, May 19, 2014

Mozart's Don Giovanni

Moving along rather quickly through opera history, today let’s look at a famous late 18th-century composer whose operas are still widely performed and loved today: Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart.

Mozart’s Don Giovanni was performed just last summer by the Cincinnati opera. Did you have the opportunity to see it? This particular opera is quite interesting in that it uses both comic and serious characters. Working with librettist Lorenzo Da Ponte, Mozart also created a mezzo carattere (middle character) who acted serious at times and comic at others. This mezzo carattere is exhibited by Don Giovanni himself who, being a seducer, acts as a sort of chameleon as he comes across serious when around a serious woman and comic when around a comic woman.

Mozart also used shocking elements on stage that were not common during that time in history. During the opening scene, Don Giovanni kills the Commendatore on stage. This event is quite surprising for an opera labeled as a comedy.

Here is a clip from the opening scene of the opera. Following the overture, notice how Don Giovanni’s servant, Leporello, sings in a fast, comic way while Donna Anna comes across in a more serious, dramatic manner. 

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