Operas of Mozart Don Giovanni
It was very common for composers to take the style of where they were living at the time and write in that genre of music. Donna Anna was daughter who was to be married. The role was sung by a soprano who could find herself in mourning due to the death of her father. The stone statue invited for dinner in the last scene was part of folk mythology of Don Juan (Donington 446) To return to Mozart’s Woman, Brown never once considered the social context whereas Mozart was writing an Italian opera only using the setting and subject matter of “Don Juan” with the 18th century interpretation.
It is the purpose of this paper to show how Mozart communicated his values and judgments. For some it still remained an opera buffa which was the style of the period (Grout 517). It was a light hearted opera which made the audience laugh and also sell tickets. Mozart used his music and symbolism on stage to go beyond the opera buffa. Don Giovanni, a opera in two acts, was composed by Mozart and first performed in Prague in 1787. (Mendelsohn 55) As a common style of writing, Mozart could only use the opera buffa to show how women were treated in the 18th century.
Though Mozart considered Don Giovanni as an opera buffa at the time but his librettist Lorenzo Da Ponte called an opera giocosco. (Fischer, 167) The Opera was placed in Seville in the 18th century (Mendelsohn 55) Mozart’s Don Giovanni was controversial. At the time, the theme was thought to be too serious to be considered a “funny” opera”. People usually did not die nor were audiences frightened by stoned statues. Mozart used his three women characters in order to mix the reality of their existence with the storytelling of Don Juan. Don Giovanni was killed. The father became the stone statue.
The women became the protagonists. Gounoud wrote in the 19th century that Don Giovanni was an “apogee of the lyrical drama, a wondrous example of truth, beauty of form, appropriateness of characterization, deep insight into the drama, purity of style, …. charm and tenderness in the love passages, and power in pathos. ” (Krehbiel 69) Don Giovanni “can be viewed as an archetype of every man or woman’s alter ego, a man who faces that eternal conflict of the tension, desire and craving for love, and the struggle between emotion and reason, the spirit and the flesh, or the sacred and the profane”. Ballantine 19) In the 18th century period of Enlightenment, women were given intellectual and artistic liberties. These liberties were accepted as long as women adhered to the roles of the domestic life as well as appearing to support one’s husband. Sexuality was open but behind the screen. Donna Anna, had she been scorned by Don Giovanni by our standards, she would have been considered as having been raped. Had she been scorned by the standards of the 18th century of Enlightenment, it would be possible to assume that he only shamed her future position as an aristocratic.
Was her role to maintain the household and support her husband in appearance? Nowhere in the opera is it said why she is scorned, a 21rst century assumption is made because of Don Giovanni’s past histories as a womanizer. “Don Giovanni, who has already lost or never get hold of most of his real masculinity, having dissipated it in his unreal philandering, will be deprived… if he can’t succeed in getting one of the women. ” (Donigton 448) There has been a great deal of controversy dealing the role women played in the period of Enlightenment.
Mozart played with duality in his professional and personal life. His wife would forgive him for his philander with servant girls but not with “educated or artistic”(Stafford 119) (Paumgartner, Mozart, 273). As this showed the sexual freedom of the 18th century Italy, it was quite common to have extra marital affairs for both men and women. Discretion was the only rule that was demanded by the upper society to which Don Giovanni never adhered. Donna Elvira had a love-hate relationship with him. He would not have been able to access her rooms.
Donna Anna would have had a “waiting room” with a man servant or her lady in-waiting attending to her. It would have been highly unlikely that she, who had a fiance, put herself in a position of having truly been violated. This is where Mozart is making the point of a woman having to put on social graces. Donna Anna shows her intelligence in her coming down in a fury and singing in the duet with Don Octavio “how she wants revenge”. (Act I) It was not a physical affront, it was an affront to her intellectual dignity that he should be able to reach her inner sanctuary.
In a more symbolic interpretation, perhaps Mozart was doubting Donna Anna as a bride or maybe the opposite. Mozart liked a strong, intelligent woman who set the rules. Donna Anna will not get married until Don Octavio revenges her father. He shows himself to be weaker than she is. This is usually the role of the man, but Mozart reverses the male role as a female role which is a theme he often uses. Bernard Shaw concluded that Don Giovanni was a womanizer who had never succeeded in possessing one woman as he was missing the one trait it takes.
He has a heart of stone (Donington 446) thus, he continues looking. He ran away from Donna Anna because he didn’t get what he was looking for and her father challenged his pride. His killing was just his show of what a desperate soul he had. He goes to Donna Elvira second time where he pretends a certain affinity. Leporello is forced to act like Don Giovanni. Donna Elvira is deceived second time. Showing her superiority, her intelligence and desire to destroy him, he is more conniving and cruel towards her. He has had two women of social aristocracy.
His last womanizing is with Zerlina, a tavern maiden who is supposed to be engaged. The circle is closed as the stone statue of a man, who can have no one, is invited to the party. A true story of Don Juan. Mozart wrote for three different feminine roles in each of his operas. In Don Giovanni there are Donna Anna who sings seria, Zerlina who plays the buffa and Donna Elvira both seria and buffa. Each sings a special aria in this tone. In the first act scene one, Donna Anna sings with Octavio. The aria is sung in duet.
The orchestra plays as an accompaniment when they are singing in recitivo, which is the classical style. This is where they are partly talking and singing. When they are singing as a duet the orchestra is playing. Zerlina gets saved by Donna Elvira and Donna Anna. Women are strong and can stand on their own two feet. The opera shows the start of the European salons for women, the literary circles and the powerful force women have over men. These are new ideas for the 19th century. They are not depended on their male counter parts. She sings a duet with Don Giovanni .
She is innocent and naive. She can’t possibly understand how a man like Don Giovanni could be in love with her. la ci darem la manor. She thinks it is the true love. (Act I). Donna Elvira hears and sings in an aria (solo voice) Ah, fuggi il traditore. She tells her Donna Anna that she thinks Don Giovanni is the one who killed her father, thus closing the circle. The three women work to get Don Giovanni in the second act. Two duets and one aria were taken to show the diversity of the music which was used in the 18th century Italian Opera.
As Mozart had an advance theory of how women should be treated, he showed with the story of Don Juan, that the womanizer is the looser. It is the period of enlightenment, they are to be treated as intelligent beings. As a coda, Mozart had an open sexual life (Stafford 4). His wife only asked him to be discreet. Many of his opera roles were written for women who he had become intimately fond of. He, in his own way, was a Don Giovanni or a man who was looking for a mother.