Today, a follow-up to Tuesday’s post on Terms of Derision in Don Giovanni. This time, a survey of some of the threats of violence and fight-provoking language in Da Ponte’s libretto.
First, self-violence. In a fit of feigned masochism, Zerlina enumerates all of the painful things she invites her fiancé to do to her to prove that she’s really contrite about appearing to run off with another man…
Elvira is determined to do violence to Giovanni. She swears to:
The top of Act II is testosterone gone wild. Masetto is on the prowl to punish Giovanni. The Don himself is in disguise as Leporello, provoking Masetto even further.
And finally, in addition to constantly calling Leporello names, Giovanni obviously feels the need to threaten him:
And while we’ve had fun with this, rest assured that there is also comedy, wisdom, and love in this show. And amazingly, even all of this strong language comes across with a wealth of nuance and subtext when heard through the beautiful prism of Mozart’s music.
Next week (if we manage to finish all of our intern interviews!), a first stab at what I hope will be a short series on digging into the awesomeness that is W.H. Auden’s libretto for The Rake’s Progress.
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