I can't get enough of this opera. Well, this opera and the other two opera's by opera's quintessential composer Mozart, and his accomplice Lorenzo da Ponte- COSI FAN TUTTE, and THE MARRIAGE OF FIGARO.
Every time I conduct these pieces, or listen to them, I get a pain in my neck from shaking my head in disbelief of how much detail is relayed by these men to make their stories come to life. Mozart gets the credit for layering so much with so little. In this podcast I talk about how simple Mozart's music is in terms of musical building blocks, because of the expectation of the listener in the time period in which he was writing. But with those blocks he builds palaces, far more complex than any composer since, in my opinion. I don't know of one successful composer, living or dead who doesn't see Mozart as the architect of perfect musical storytelling.
Nor do I ever want to work with a musician who doesn't study the complexities of this simplicity. If one stops at a superficial glance to these works, you're just limiting the audience in what should be a musical feast of sophisticated, compelling characters in very satisfying plots. MOZART DOES NOT WRITE PRETTY OPERATIC MELODIES, unless they are meant to be pretty. He writes every spectrum of human emotion. This music must be acted to be properly communicated, and every stage direction is written in every pitch, rhythm, and harmony.
Giovanni was called an Opera Buffa by Mozart- a scholarly classification if nothing else, but it does tell us there are plenty of humorous moments in the opera. I find genius in those moments, but its when things get real that I really turn on. In this podcast I talk about how messed-up Giovanni is by modern psychological standards. He believes his own story to a degree that he has no trouble destroying anyone who gets in his way. It is a timeless struggle, don't you think?
Mozart's genius may be known to you, but do you know the librettist of DON GIOVANNI, Lorenzo da Ponte? He was one of Western history's most interesting characters. At the height of his prowess as a writer in Europe, he emigrated to the US and opened a grocery store in Queens, NY...go figure. He was later recruited to help create the Metropolitan Opera in NYC. His story is as fascinating as his writing. There are two biographies I highly recommend. You can click on the titles for links to both on Amazon.
All of the excerpts in this episode come from a GIOVANNI recording by one of my conductor gurus- Claudio Abbado conducting the Chamber Orchestra of Europe. Abbado's understanding of Mozart is humbling as a scholar, and rewarding as a listener. I also love the spin Simon Keenlyside brings to the role. I have enormous respect for everyone singing on this album. I highly recommend a listen! CLICK HERE FOR A DIRECT LINK TO THE ALBUM ON iTUNES!