Mozart's Don Giovanni
The choice of the “Three women of Don Giovanni” can give a good understanding of the type of music which was used to create an opera in the 18th century Italy. The opera buffa was a comic opera with a funny story line and light music. Mozart wrote at different levels.
In order to have full understanding of the women's roles, it is necessary to understand the social context of women in the 18 century. In Kristi Brown's Mozart's Women she compared Donna Anna to a misfortunate Spanish maiden. 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...