Thursday, October 14, 2010

Magpie 36

“Deh, vieni alla finestra, o mio Tesoro,
Deh, vieni a consolar il pianto mio.”
Come to the window, oh my treasure;
Come and dispel all my sadness.


I’d like to call this Magpie “Opera Made Easy.”
Mozart’s “Don Giovanni” is one of the great operas, perhaps the greatest. Many people are put off by the thought that it’s “too heavy,” which usually translates as “too boring.”
But it’s worth some effort to get to know it: it has comedy as well as drama, not to mention the fantastic music, along with a wild, supernatural ending.
I’d sum it up this way: the scene is set in Seville in the 1600s and, surprisingly, quite a bit of it is funny. For example, Don Giovanni is what used to be known as a “rake,” a type we might today call a philanderer, a womanizer, a skirt-chaser – you get the idea. He is pretty well set on his goal, which is to make out with just about every female he sees. His servant, Leporello, doesn’t approve of all this, but he goes along with it; hey, it’s a job.

In the story, a beautiful lady named Elvira has fallen in love with the Don. She is vaguely aware of his philandering, but she can’t resist him. Leporello tries to warn her off. He sings the famous “catalog” aria, a catalog of all the females who have succumbed to Don G’s seductive ways.
“Madamina, il catalogo e questo…”
Little lady, this is the catalog.

Turns out that the Don has indeed “had” an impressive number of women. Leporello sings that there were 640 in Italy, 23l in Germany, 100 in France. But in Spain…
“Ma in Ispagna, son gia mille e tre.”
But right here in Spain, it’s already a thousand and three!
This, understandably, turns Elvira off. She vows to go after Don Giovanni with revenge in her heart.
Later, in the second act, the Don is seen standing under Elvira’s window, singing his “Deh, vieni alla finestra” aria, a ballad of tenderness and gallantry. But it’s all hypocrisy because he’s not interested in Elvira any more – he’s been there, done that – he’s now interested in Elvira’s beautiful maidservant. The girl comes to the window and seems about to be ready to add another number to the catalog when a rabble of peasants, all armed, show up; they’ve been chasing Don G. to punish him for what he has done to their women.
The Don, with the help of ever-suffering Leporello, manages to escape.

However, as you might expect, the libertine gets his come-uppance by the end of the opera.

32 comments:

Derrick said...

Mr Schrott would be enough to seduce anyone!

Lyn said...

Agree with Derrick...everybody loves a really bad boy...thanks for the alluring post, must listen to the music, pronto!

gautami tripathy said...

That bad boy has charm!

fortune tellers

Ana said...

This story seems so familiar. Very interesting and not boring at all! Thanks!

Berowne said...

Always good to hear from Derrick.
Lyn: "everybody loves a really bad boy." You mean, I have a chance? :-)
Also, my thanks to gautami and Ana for their comments.

Rene/ Not The Rockefellers said...

That Don Giovanni..he was Wilt Chamberlin before his time

Elizabeth said...

I have to agree with you; there are some blatantly funny episodes and the farcical absurdities of swapping clothes,inviting a statue to dinner, interrupting the peasants' wedding, Leporello's capture by Zerlina and the sending of the hunting party in the wrong direction, worked in alongside the cad's philandering ways, all contribute to an entertaining whole.The moral, "Thus end all evildoers," seems almost unjust for one whose bad behaviour is so endearing to watch and listen to. x

OJ Gonzalez-Cazares said...

thanks a lot for the opera insight - I've always wanted to get into the opera, and haven't had the chance to go to one or study about it. So, am I getting the idea right? is Don Giovanni the source for the legend of Don Juan? ( you know, the famous lover)or is it just a coincidence?

Deborah said...

Just wonderful to read ... and learn :o)

Berowne said...

OJ Gonzalez: "...is Don Giovanni the source for the legend of Don Juan?"
It's the other way around. The Don Juan legend was in existence long before the opera; Mozart based the work on the legend. "Don Giovanni" is simply "Don Juan" in Italian.

Berowne said...

"..all contribute to an entertaining whole."
As usual, an insightful comment from Elizabeth.

Friko said...

Could you believe that somebody can play in D.G. dozens of times and still not get tired of it?

willow said...

I adore this opera. My daughter has sung the role of Zerlina. The beautiful "Batti, batti" is one of my favorite arias. ((sigh))

kathew said...

ooh that bad boy! Great read!

chiccoreal said...

Some guys just don't get it, or maybe they do!

Berowne said...

choccoreal: "Some guys just don't get it."
Or get too much of it. :-)

Berowne said...

willow: "My daughter has sung the role of Zerlina."
I should think that anyone who has sung in the duet "La ci darem" onstage would remember it for many years.

Stafford Ray said...

Don Geovani's collection,
Of beauties all, Nature's perfection
Were such a large number
That one has to wonder
What Don used for bed-time protection!

You started this! :-)

Kristen Haskell said...

Berowne,

I really love how you make it so accessible. A truly enjoyable post.

Wilt Chamberlin what a scoundrel! Yes, I have a story there but for another time I think.

Berowne said...

Staffprd Ray: "You started this! :-)"
I think you'll find that it was going on for quite a long period of time before I showed up on the scene. :-)

Berowne said...

Kristen H: "A truly enjoyable post."
A truly enjoyable comment.

OJ Gonzalez-Cazares said...

thanks a lot for the comment back - I knew Giovanni was Juan in italian, I just didn't know what came first - the egg or the chicken ;) Bravo, caro mio!

kathi harris said...

That's a bad, bad boy.

Madame DeFarge said...

We all need to be warned about chaps like this. Usually after the fact by our mothers.

Tumblewords: said...

I kinda love bad boys. Didn't I?

dana said...

Ah, yes. The libertine always gets his come-uppance...but so do the innocent people in his path.

Patience said...

Thanks for the post. I've seen a few operas, but this one is still on the list. Sounds awesome.

Berowne said...

What a lineup of all-stars: Patience, dana, Tumblewords, Mme DeF, kathi h, kathew, Friko, Deborah and Rene -- thanks for visiting and for the friendly comments.

cheryl said...

The short form of CBC's Saturday at The Opera, thank you !

C.M. Jackson said...

I loved this--never knew the story behind the music--I will now have to look for the next productin at the met or pbs---great magpie!

Reflections said...

The charm, the cataloged list... the end.

Nice write tho.

joanny said...

I do enjoy going to the opera , and a very good apt description capturing the 'soap' opera story. Many were injected with humor poking fun at the human foible's.

cheers for your write and for enjoying the opera.

Joanny
http://thedowsersdaughter.blogspot.com/

 
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