“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.
1 year ago