Skip to comments.Divine Justice: The hidden story of Don Giovanni, Mozartís Jewish opera
Posted on 05/07/2012 12:21:34 PM PDT by mojito
A rake seduces women and murders their male relatives with impunity until the statue of one of his victims invites him to supper and drags him to hell. It sounds silly, but for two centuries it was the most-favored plot device in Western literature. Don Juan was the invention of Tirso de Molina, a Spanish monk from a family of converted Jews. Concealed in its puppet-theater plot is a Jewish joke: Don Juan exists to prove by construction that a devout Christian can be a sociopath, and by extension, that the Christian world can be ruled by sociopaths. The Enlightenments most insidious attack on Catholic faith, then, came not from atheists like Voltaire, but from a Spanish monk with buried Jewish sensibilities.
A century and a half later, another converted JewEmmanuele Conegliano, known as Lorenzo da Pontereworked Tirsos play as a libretto for Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart, and the result was an utterly unique work of art. It is pointless to argue about whether Don Giovanni is the best opera ever written, because it is a genre unto itselfthe musical tragi-comedy, or drama giocoso, as Da Ponte put it. Mozarts combination of tragic and comic elements turns the world inside out. From the first bars of the orchestra to the final note, we are unsure whether we should laugh, cry, or feel fear. If you dont leave the theater confused, you havent been listening.
(Excerpt) Read more at tabletmag.com ...
More from Spengler on a recent production of Don Giovanni here:
Excellent pair of articles. Thank you.
I have always loved Classical Music...from Beethoven to the present time.
It is only in recent years that I have come to appreciate Mozart. He was truly unique..Not quite Baroque, and Not quite “Romantic”. He, like Beethoven, were on the cusp of the change of Musical eras, and are categories unto themselves.
It is silly. Even die zauberflöte makes more sense.
I’ve seen the opera and I didn’t get this.
Don Giovanni was complete reprobate, and certainly didn’t seem very pious.
“The Magic Flute” is Mozart’s Masonic opera, as opposed to his Jewish opera.
Mozart clearly could not have cared less about any (cue the scary organ music) ominous intentions behind da Ponte's libretto. He didn't even finish composing the overture until the night before Don Giovanni's debut.
None of this would even be worth noting if it weren’t attached to a monumental musical work. Giovanni develops musically right up to the finale. Astonishing compositional work!
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“He was truly unique..Not quite Baroque, and Not quite Romantic.”
He was High Classical. As was Haydn. the apotheosis of Classicism.
If youd like to be on or off, please FR mail me.
Whatever you call it, it is sublime! :-)
Thanks for the clarification.
I, too, am a paradox. As an avid and studious opera afficionada from childhood, I acknowledge Mozart's genius. Yet, I really can't stand listening to any of his operas from start to finish.
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