Don Giovanni Assignment

Don Giovanni Assignment

Mozart’s Don Giovanni is based on more than one pre-existing source. One of these is the play Don Juan by Moliere, which you are supposed to read.

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Answer the following questions:

When did Don Juan kill the Commander in the play (give act/scene/page)? What about in the opera (give act/scene)? Since the opera obeys the dramatic unity of time (it takes place in 24 hours) what difficulties concerning the statue of the Commander are there in the opera that aren’t a problem in the play?

What character in the play is the equivalent of Leporello in the opera? What character in the play is the equivalent of Zerlina in the opera? How are both characters different in the two media?
Where in the play does Sganarelle question Don Juan’s morality in the way that Leoprello does in the opera (say where this occurs in both the play and opera)?

In what ways is Don Juan’s seduction of Charlotte in the play similar to Giovanni’s seduction of Zerlina in the opera? What arguments does he use on her in both works?.

What character interferes with Charlotte’s seduction in the play in the same way that Elvira interrupts Zerlina’s in the opera?

What is Don Juan’s attitude toward religion in the play (cf. Act III with the man in the woods)

How are Don Juan and Don Giovanni different with regard to hypocracy? Who is the more honorable? What does Sganarelle think about Don Juan’s deliberate, cynical “conversion”?

The comedy in Moliere’s play comes mostly from the servants and peasants. Cite a few examples.

The character Don Juan in Moliere is an atheist who delights in rejecting religion. Where in the play does he express his atheism? He is also inclined to use intellect and elaborate rhetoric with many promises and assurances to aid in his seductions.

Another source for this character is an opera libretto by a librettist known as Tirso de Molina, El burlador de Sevilla, y Convidado de piedra (The trickster of Seville, or the Guest of Stone). In this version DG is not a hedonist (as in da Ponte) or an atheist but rather someone who enjoys the challenge of tricking his victims. This DG (unlike da Ponte’s and Moliere’s) doesn’t claim to be immune from divine justice but plans to seek forgiveness in the confessional. In what parts of the opera does Giovanni seem more like the trickster of de Molina, an individual who enjoys the chase more than the eventual seduction?

Don Giovanni reflects some of the operatic reforms proposed by Gluck in his preface to the opera Alceste. Gluck advocated that the overture ought to be related to the content of the opera and not merely a formality to which nobody listened. In DG the overture is a full sonata form (i.e., not a sonata form without development as in Figaro) with a slow introduction. There is also a coda that leads directly into the first scene, making it impossible for the audience to bring the action to a halt while they applauded. The themes in the overture also relate to the content of the opera. Give some examples of themes in the overture that suggest themes in the opera.
Don Giovanni is a dramma giocoso, a form in which aspects of opera seria are blended with opera buffa. Which elements of the opera apply to which opera type? Sometimes an individual character will include aspects of each type.
Here are some musical issues concerning the first act:
Many scenes and arias are structured with elements of musical forms and most scenes have an overall musical plan. The opening scene, for example, begins in F and modulates to B-flat, then modulates through other closely related keys such as g minor and ends up back in F.
Elvira’s aria Ah! chi mi dice mai is a sonata form without development. Show where the various parts of the form are (give keys and measure numbers).
Leporello’s catalog aria is a two part aria made up of a patter song and a minuet. In the minuet Giovanni characterizes various kinds of women (Blondes, tall women, small women, 0lder women, etc.) What musical means does he use to depict these individuals?
The Quartet (No. 9 in the score, Non ti fidar, o misera) has elements of sonata form with an exposition, development and recapitulation but on a larger scale than in Elvira’s aria. Show where these are (give measure numbers)
The finale of the first act includes an area in which Giovanni uses music to try to confuse and disorient the peasant women he hopes to seduce. He says he is going to do this in his aria Finch’han dal vino (no. 11 in the score). During the finale Mozart has three different dances played by different orchestras at the same time. Identify this section and explain what is going on in the opera. The three different pieces playing at once are a minuet in 3/4, a contredanse in 2/4 and a waltz in 3/8. These represent the three divisions of society at the time: the minuet was associated with the upper classes, the contredanse with the bourgeoisie, and the waltz with the proletariat.

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