Don Giovanni: The Characters and Their Music
Giving Character's character is one of the most interesting challenges in operatic composition; another is composing for all the specific characters. A composer has to distinguish between characters through his music. Jan can't sound like Fran, and Dan can't sound like Stan. Each character must have his/her own traits. Mozart's opera, Don Giovanni, provides us with many different characters to compare and contrast. One scene in particular lends itself to the comparison of Don Giovanni, Leporello, and The Commendator. Scene fifteen of Act two, places all three characters in close interaction with each other, making it easy to compare and find out how Mozart and his Librettist Lorenzo da Ponte brought them all to life. The libretto provides the main character traits of Don Giovanni, Leporello, and The Commendator. It gives an easy way of distinguishing between the characters. Don Giovanni is portrayed as being smart, charming, and brave, yet selfish, arrogant, womanizing, and pompous. We see all of these traits in the final dinner scene. These opposing traits set up a love hate relationship between Don Giovanni and the viewers. Leporello on the other hand, is wimpy, subservient, nervous, and a bit dumb. He is often the butt of Don Giovanni's jokes, and is always being bossed around. He can be thought of as the comic relief of the opera. In the dinner scene we get a definite feeling of Leporello being a wimpy idiot. After being slain by Don Giovanni, the Commendator returns as a statue. He is portrayed as being a mighty, powerful, and ominous. He tries to make Don Giovanni repent for all the terrible things he did. In the dinner scene he is truly a powerful being from beyond. His power is demonstrated when he sends Don Giovanni down to hell. The above character descriptions are what Lorenzo da Ponte set up for Mozart to compose his music to. We now can observe how Mozart used musical devices to give each...
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