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2005 | 5 | 57-98

Article title

DON GIOVANNI - MOZART'S 'OPERA OF OPERAS'. THE FIGURES OF THE DRAMA IN THE LIGHT OF EXTANT RESEARCH (Don Giovanni -Mozartowska 'opera oper'. Osoby dramatu w swietle dotychczasowych badan)

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The first important analysis of the characters in Mozart's 'Don Giovanni' and of the opera itself was in a story by E.T.A. Hoffmann - 'Don Juan. From the journal of the travelling enthusiast'. This story became the starting point for a discussion which has been taking place in literature for almost 200 years. For some of those analysts who adhere to romantic ideas, 'Don Giovanni' is a demonic and tragic hero who opposes social values in the name of freedom of the individual; for other critics he is a trivial skirt-chaser, an arrogant 'debauchee' who changes masks and scoffs at women and at moral imperatives. Paradoxically enough, Don Giovanni's figure in Mozart's opera seems to escape all description, since he was deprived of both verbal and musical characterisation. Many authors align him with the figures of Faust and Tristan. According to some scholars, the emergence of the story of the Deceiver indicates the disappearance of the idea of the courtly love of the troubadours. For Kierkegaard Don Giovanni epitomises a 'brilliance of the senses' which has its sources in Christian religion. Otton Rank in turn creates a psychoanalytical portrait of the Deceiver, proving that the figure of his servant is an inseparable part of the artistic presentation of the eponymous hero. In this context Leporello's figure bewilders by his psychological insight so that some authors consider him to be the central and the only real figure of the drama. Commendatore, considered from a psychoanalytical perspective, is also a part of the main hero's personality, representing the figure of the punishing ancestor. In the light of other theories he symbolises God, death, a spirit opposed to sensuality or revenge taken by the society. Don Giovanni, being obviously the central figure of the drama, is a point of reference for the analyses of the remaining figures. According to some authors, Donna Anna, who is considered to be his main counter partner, loves the Deceiver, whereas in the view of others she is a typical character of opera seria, who suffers after the loss of her father, is artfully seduced, and then is avid for revenge. Her fiancé - Don Ottavio - is universally considered as the weakest, less complicated and schematic figure. In this sense his opposite is Donna Elvira, a heroine who is torn between ardent feelings and the pain of a cheated woman. She is presented ambivalently - in a comedy or tragedy convention. The evolution of her personality in the opera becomes one of its most interesting motifs. The elements of opera buffa are focused in the figures of Zerlina and Masetto, who in Mozart's conception went far beyond the typical figures of simple peasants which merely introduce a comic element.






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  • Piotr Matwiejczuk, Polskie Radio, Program 2, al. Niepodleglosci 77/85, 00-977 Warszawa, Poland


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