MUSI 112: Listening to Music

Lecture 17

 - Mozart and His Operas


Mozart and the nature of his life and work make up the topic of this lecture. Professor Wright begins by discussing the basic ways in which classical music differs from Baroque music. He then launches an exploration of Mozart’s life and compositional process, making use of Mozart’s letters and compositional sketches to illustrate his points. The lecture culminates with a performance of select scenes from Mozart’s opera Don Giovanni, featuring guest singer Professor Richard Lalli.

Transcript Audio Low Bandwidth Video High Bandwidth Video

MUSI 112 - Lecture 17 - Mozart and His Operas

Chapter 1. From Baroque to Classical Music – An Introduction [00:00:00]

Professor Craig Wright: So — good morning. I bring you news from Nashville — very interesting, Nashville. I had such an interesting weekend. Friday night, went to this spectacular concert of Mozart, doing the Mozart Requiem in this one hundred thirty-five million-dollar concert hall that they have put — built for music in the city of Nashville. The next afternoon, Saturday afternoon, I walked across the street. I could have gone two blocks to watch a hockey game — they have a hockey team in Nashville — or three blocks in the other direction to watch the Titans play in the football stadium, but I went just one block to the Country Music Hall of Fame. So I spent three hours in the Country Music Hall of Fame and — absolutely fascinating — but it got even better, because Sunday morning, there I was at the airport about to fly out of Nashville. And I’m sitting there and you know how you’re queuing up to get — go out your gate to get on your airplane and CNN is playing on the television there. It was wonderful. What did I hear? [plays piano]

Ah, Mozart! Mozart right here in the airport in Nashville. And then it went on from that. There was another commercial and they used [plays piano [more Mozart]] and so on. So what a strange, wonderful world, what a strange, wonderful country to have such diversity ethnically, politically and musically. And at the same time to have a sense that this little person who was only about five feet three inches tall — probably weighed about one hundred ten pounds — sitting in a room in Vienna, Austria, more than two hundred years ago could create this beauty that we still engage today, whether consciously or subconsciously, when we’re sitting in an airport in Nashville, Tennessee. Right? Astonishing what the brain sometimes experiences.

Well, today we’re going to talk about Mozart. Now the music that you just heard — [music playing] Okay. Let’s just stop it there, and we’re going to come back to this in just a second. It’s music of the Classical period. It’s music of Mozart. It happens to be what’s called his “Little G Minor Symphony,” and contrast that to the music that you heard in section last week by Bach, [plays piano] and so on where he gets a concerto going, [sings] and it sort of chugs along in that same fashion, chugs along, in fact, for about nine minutes and twenty seconds all with the music having the same general tenor, the same general mood, the same general feeling to it. That’s Baroque music. Once you get an ethos established in Baroque music, it will carry through from beginning to end of a particular movement or a particular piece. It doesn’t change, generally speaking.

When we get to the Classical period, however, and here we’re talking roughly seventeen fifty up to around eighteen twenty or so, things get a little bit different. We get change within a particular movement. Change might be from regular to irregular rhythm, for example, or from very loud to very quiet. And this push for change only accelerates as we go in to the romantic period where you get these wild swings of emotion, these wild swings of musical mood, a kind of bipolar music in the nineteenth century.

Chapter 2. Glimpses of Mozart’s Life in Letters [00:04:25]

Well, this begins in the Classical period so let’s go back and hear the beginning of this Symphony No. 25 in G Minor of Mozart. And notice here we begin minor key, lots of syncopation, agitation, and within about forty seconds Mozart has morphed into a completely different mood, a major key, oboe solo. The music is very lyrical. The meter now is — or the rhythms are all lined up to come on the beat rather than off the beat. Watch how we have this transformation of mood within a rather short period of time. [music playing] Okay, completely different sort of music here.

Now that sound that you just heard there is the opening music for the film “Amadeus.” How many have seen the movie or film “Amadeus”? If you haven’t, go see it. It’s just not to be believed, it is so good. And it doesn’t age either, because it’s all done in period costume so you don’t know that anything has really changed. It’s a wonderful movie. It’s based on two premises: One, what does mediocrity do in the face of absolute genius? And two, isn’t it ironic, isn’t it somehow unfair, that this God-given talent, this great creature, comes to earth in the form of this sort of childish lout, i.e., Mozart? And we’ll explore that just a little bit. And how does someone like Peter Shaffer, who created the play and — on which was built the film “Amadeus” — how did they create a character like this? Well, they use memoirs of the time, letters of the time, primary source documents of the time.

You may remember in “Amadeus,” — and I put a picture of this in the textbook because I think it’s actually very important in trying to get inside of Mozart’s head — that Mozart often composed on a billiard table. That’s what we see in “Amadeus.” Is this true? Yes, it is actually true. If you look at the probate list of Mozart — they went through his apartment after he died and they inventoried all the furniture and said where everything was — in his bedroom he had a billiards table — not a pool table, but a billiards table. There’s an important difference here because billiards, of course, involves angles. And there is a report from one of Mozart’s friends, a tenor, Michael Kelly, who said in his memoirs, “He was fond of billiards and had an excellent billiard table in his home. Many and many a game I played with him but always came off second best.”

And Mozart had other interests too. His — one of his other interests was arithmetic, and if you look at the Mozart autographs and particularly the Mozart sketches you will see that he fills the margins oftentimes with numbers, doing various basic calculations and sometimes some fundamental algebraic formulations. Why this fascination with numbers and shapes and patterns? He would go into a restaurant and he would be seen folding his napkin this way, this way, this way.

When he writes letters he oftentimes writes the word backwards. He loves anagrams and I could give you lots of specific instances of that.

Another aspect of this is Mozart the mimic. Mozart had an incredible capacity to imitate other individuals — their facial gestures, their dialects. We can’t — we don’t have time to go in to it, those dialects. And he was fluent. He learned languages lickety-split — fluent Italian, fluent French, fluent English, of course in addition to his native German, and he had a great musical memory. He could retain all of this sound.

A famous story: He goes into the Sistine Chapel in Rome. We saw pictures of that two weeks ago. He hears one piece that couldn’t be performed anywhere else, had never been published, only supposed to be performed in the Papal Chapel. He goes in once, hears it, walks back to his hotel, and writes the whole thing down.

Well, what is all of this? Well, it’s the capacity, I suppose — what is the brain doing up there? We’ve got this organ, probably the least understood, and we have these various parts of the brain. Sound processing — for music, sound processing for language — is happening mostly in the temporal lobe, but engaging various kinds of near-term and long-term memory in the frontal lobe, and probably in the hippocampus as well. If you have absolute pitch, sometimes you short-circuit, apparently, this whole process because that’s being recognized in the brainstem and so on.

So there’s lots going on here, and I’ve given you this sheet in which a Yale neuroscientist, David Ross — a couple of years ago — he was the basis of an article in the Yale Alumni magazine: “Is Your Brain In Tune?” and it talks about things such as the incidence of absolute pitch in this world; roughly one person in every ten thousand has it. So these are the kinds of things that interest about Mozart.

Oddly, we can — we know more about Mozart than we know about Picasso. Picasso lived — a great artist, a great genius here — in the twentieth century, died about 1973, 1970-something. But we can get inside of Mozart’s head more intensely and we know more about him than we can about Picasso because Mozart left us a ton of letters. I just grabbed something that was on my bookshelf in my office here, here — volume two of a five-volume set of letters by Mozart, so he was always writing letters to, principally, his father, and it’s on the basis of this kind of thing that we get a sense of who Mozart was.

The portrayal of Mozart in “Amadeus,” as I say, is just absolutely wrong. It couldn’t be more wrong. The movie is brilliant, the premise is brilliant, but the portrayal of Mozart couldn’t be more off the track.

Here is just one letter from those in the collected letters of Mozart that always interests me. He’s writing to his father, 1787, about the time of the death of one of his good friends. The friend was named Count von Hatzfeld and this is what Mozart says about death. “Death is the true goal of our lives and I have made myself so well acquainted with it during the past two years that I see it as the true and best friend of mankind. Indeed, the idea of it no longer holds any terror for me but rather much that is tranquil and comforting, and I thank God that he has granted me the good fortune to obtain the opportunity of regarding death as the key to our true happiness. I never retire at night without considering that, as young as I am, perhaps I may be no more on the morrow, yet not one of those who knows me could say that I am morose or melancholy, and for this I thank my creator daily and wish heartily the same happiness may be given to my fellow man. I clearly explained my way of looking at the matter on the occasion of the death of my very dear best friend, Count von Hatzfeld. He was just thirty-one like myself. I do not grieve for him but from the bottom of my heart for myself and for all who knew him as well as I.”

Now ironically, at age thirty-one how many more years did Mozart himself have to live? Yeah, four. He did not make it to thirty-six. He wrote this [extends arms] — if you go on our music library over there and you could extend your hands like this and you would not be able to encompass all of the music by Mozart that’s been edited, and he did all of that by the time he was thirty-six.

So Mozart’s an interesting character. He may have had no formal education, didn’t spend a minute in school. Why not? Well, they didn’t have mandatory education in that period. He was recognized very early on to be a musical genius and his father nourished him at home, took him all around the world to showcase these talents, and he was sort of educated as a person in the world and his father did teach him many, many things as he went through life.

Chapter 3. Musical Balance and Genius in Mozart’s Compositional Sketches [00:13:27]

Okay. So what kind of music did Mozart write? What’s special about Mozart’s music? Well, let me try to encapsulate this in a simple way by saying let’s focus on four things that are peculiar about Mozart’s music or individual about Mozart’s music. The first: I would say, this infallible sense of balance and proportion. Yes, we are in the Classical period in the history of music and that’s why we call it the Classical period, because everything does seem to be in balance. There’s not an excessive degree of ornamentation the way you find in — sometimes in Baroque art for example. Everything is balanced.

And it is still the norm today. I was dumbfounded looking at that new concert hall in Nashville. What did they do? They — it’s a knockoff of the U.S. Treasury building or the Federal Reserve building in Washington, D.C., you know, the basic pediment up there, the columns and all of this. That’s architecture, everything in perfect balance.

Well, in Classical music we begin to get this for the first time here in the Classical period. Remember when we were studying measures and bars and phrases and I would have you count measures, and invariably we would find that things are two plus two, four plus four, eight plus eight and that kind of thing, very symmetrical. Well, this comes in to music here for the first time in a big way in the Classical period.

So let’s just refresh our memory here. Here is the aria “Voi che sapete” by Mozart which we had Lauren Libaw sing for us — but just the beginning of it to get a sense in our ears once again what’s an antecedent in consequent phrase. [music playing] Antecedent, [music playing] consequent, [music playing] antecedent, [music playing] three, opens it up and inserts, [music playing] now the consequence, [music playing]. Okay. We’ll just stop it right there, but everything in four plus four and you can go right through that entire aria and it’s organized that way. All right. So that’s point one: balance, shaping, perfect proportion.

Point two: The capacity to make something very beautiful out of the simplest of materials. It’s sort of oxymoron here with Mozart. The — sometimes the simpler it is, the more beautiful it is. Here is the piece they were playing in the airport in Nashville. It’s out of a piano concerto of Mozart. It’s the one in C major that’s listed on your sheet there [K. 467]. It’s called the “Elvira Madigan” concerto because a few years ago they used it as background music for a movie that — a film that was based on a novel. Thomas Hardy — is that right? “Elvira Madigan”? I think that’s correct. In any event, here is the music. [plays piano] And so on.

I’m going to just stop there for a second and let’s look at this. [plays piano] What’s that? Somebody yell it out nice and loud. [plays piano] Daniel? Daniel says major triad, absolutely right. So he is just ornamenting it a little bit. [plays piano] Now what’s this? [plays piano] Just a scale. He’s up on the fifth, [plays piano] five, four, three, two, one. He makes it a little more interesting by doing this, [plays piano] a little chromaticism inserted there, so the stuff we talked about at the beginning of the class. Triad, goes up, comes down the scale, goes in — the triad coming down the scale, a chromatic inflection, [plays piano] the next phrase, [plays piano] gets back to the opening idea, but how does he do that? [plays piano]

This is an interesting chord and we should focus on it just for a minute. It’s called a dominant seventh chord. Here’s our basic C major triad, C, E, G, [sings] and it’s made up of two thirds. If we put one more third up there, [sings] that would get us up to a seventh chord. Why is it called a seventh chord, again? Because it spans seven letter names, C, D, E, F, G, A, B. So a total of seven letter names up there. But it’s simply a triad with another third thrown up there on top. So we get that idea. [plays piano]

Back to the tonic, [plays piano] continue, [plays piano] diminished chord, [plays piano] and throws a little trill on — at the end and that’s it, but it’s very, very simple material but it’s so beautiful and so lasting that you can hear it once again in the airport in Nashville. All right.

Point three: what I would say are wild swings of mood with Mozart. It begins to come in, as mentioned, in the Classical period, this change of mood within a single composition. But with Mozart it’s particularly intense, because he likes to swing really quickly between major and minor keys and he likes to go between diatonic and chromatic really quickly. And he likes to play off different dynamic levels, loud and soft. And that’s the essence of drama, right, contrast, conflict. That’s where we get drama.

So let’s listen to a bit of the “Confutatis” out of the Requiem Mass. We talked a bit about this a little bit before but it wouldn’t hurt to hear it again so we’re going to start here down low in [plays piano] demon land in minor, agitation, and then we’ll shift up in to the higher heavenly realm. [music playing] Now we’re going to go to the Confutatis out of the Dies Irae of the Requiem Mass, [music playing] completely new environment, [music playing] and then back to the original. [music playing] So that’s point three: strong contrast. And sometimes rather abrupt contrast [that creates drama].

And here is the fourth and final point: Inexhaustible melodic supply, fecundity of imagination when it comes to melody. This is an interesting thing. It’s something I’m studying in my own work at the moment, looking at a lot of Mozart’s sketches. And Mozart sometimes would have to sketch something. He’d sometimes get in a little bit of trouble and have to write something. For the most part, he had it all in his head — he was just writing it down — but sometimes he did have to sketch things. When he gets in trouble and has to sketch it’s contrapuntal issues, never melody.

Now you look at Beethoven’s sketches in the Beethoven sketch books and Beethoven will wrestle with trying to craft or get this melody exactly the way he wants it over and over again, erasure after erasure. When you look at the Beethoven section of the textbook there, there’s a facsimile of — out of the second movement of the Beethoven Fifth Symphony. Notice all the erasures there and the constant corrections. It took him about twenty years before he was happy with [plays piano, “Ode to Joy”]. He worked on that thing for a long, long time before he got it exact. That would never happen with Mozart. This just flowed perfectly.

Now we’re going to play an example here. I’ve never used this in any kind of public forum before. I’d be interested to see how it comes across. It’s an example of Mozart writing church music for a soprano solo. Actually, the soprano that had to sing it was his wife so she was pretty good. So let’s just listen to a chunk out of a mass, the [“Et in carnatus” of the ] C Minor Mass by Mozart, and see this sense of melody that just is perfect and can just kind of go on — perfectly shaped, perfectly proportioned, but you don’t have a sense that he’s struggling with this. It just seems so easy. [music playing] [music playing] Okay. We’ll just pause it there. We’re just breaking in the middle of it.

This guy could go on forever with this kind of thing and sometimes it got him in trouble. What I mean by that is that there are two famous anecdotes coming from Mozart’s life, one at the time of the production of The Abduction from the Seraglio. The emperor is there and the emperor says, “All well and good, my dear friend Mozart, but far too many notes,” and Mozart’s repose — response was, “Not one nor — no more or less than absolutely necessary, Your Majesty.” Then, at the end of the performance, first Viennese performance of Don Giovanni, the emperor, same emperor, Joseph II, said, “Too much meat for the teeth of my Viennese, dear Mozart,” to which the repost this time was, “Well, let them chew on it a while. They’ll get used to it.” And they did and — get used to it but unfortunately by that time Mozart was dead. So he didn’t live to see the success of his particular vision.

So with Mozart there is this sense of music that is divinely shaped, divinely proportioned, a sort of endless variety, not one note too many, not one note too few. And indeed in his day Mozart was referred to as “the divine Mozart.” We still call him “the divine Mozart.” It’s interesting what labels get put on particular composers, Bach for example — I’m not sure we call Bach divine. We call him the stalwart Bach, the industrious Bach for example, Beethoven the powerful, Bach the powerful composer, the striving composer. I can sort of relate to Bach in a way with his twenty children or with Beethoven and the chaos. You look at a Beethoven score and it’s this train wreck, that he’s scribbled here, always trying to correct this and wrote this out and then he — his dinner falls over top of the manuscript so he’s got to sweep that away. It’s just his whole life kind of chaotic there, but with Mozart it’s all sort of crystal clear and crisp, perfectly organized almost from the get-go in these autographed scores, and that’s what we mean sort of by the divine nature of the music. It’s sort of heavenly sent music.

It’s an interesting phenomenon, this idea of art and religion and why we have these kinds of things. I often think myself — I’m not a particularly religious person but I’m one of these people who take art and turn it into religion in a kind — odd kind of way. And I think it is possible to see visions of the divine, working with art. And occasionally I do get this, and in an odd way this — isn’t this what art is supposed to all be about? Why do we have art? What does it do for us? It gives us a sense of something better, a vision of something better than the stupid, mundane and the vernacular crap that we have to deal with on a quotidian basis out here. There could be something better; there’s something bigger and better out there than we are. That, in essence, is what art is all about and sometimes you can see it and — I think you can see it, or you just seem to be getting nearer to it.

One of the experiences in my life: Standing at the west end of the Cathedral of Chartres on a bright, sunny day when the back of the church is still cold and dark but all these beautiful blue lights streaming through the stained glass. In music it often happens, well, sometimes and maybe with Gustav Mahler but particularly with Mozart, and I think it has to do with the sense of balance and proportion, crystalline clarity that’s operating there.

So that’s what you get with Mozart, crystalline clarity, balance and performance — and balance and proportion, and sometimes with Mozart you get [plays piano] a vision of hell as well when he switches off into the minor, so it’s a kind of total cosmos.

And I was struck recently when I came across a passage of Johannes Kepler. Now don’t get me wrong here. [laughs] I don’t sit around reading the astrophysicist Johannes Kepler. I was reading something else and this happened to crop up; this quote from Kepler came up in it. How many of you in your physics courses — do they mention Kepler at all? Then — all right. So you know — you guys know Kepler a lot better than I do. Let’s not put on airs here. But this is what Kepler said, and it seemed like a really good passage to me. All right. He’s talking about music here and humanity. “Man, the ape of his creator, has discovered the art of music so that he might play the everlastingness of all created time in some short part of an hour by means of an artistic concord of many voices and instruments, that he might to some extent taste the satisfaction of God the workman through music.” Interesting idea.

Now in the same vein, however, what does music — what does art do for us? I was struck there in the Country Music Hall of Fame on Saturday in which the — you know, you go into these things, the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, and you push a button and then the — one of these artists will come and talk to you or — the recorded thing there, or sometimes they’ll play music. Well, they had African American country singer Charlie Pride there and he had something to say. I didn’t get it down verbatim but this is the gist of it. I went back and wrote it down. This is what Charlie Pride had to say. “Music is a bridge to my distant memories. When I hear a piece, it reminds me of a time or an event of my childhood or of my youth. Music carries me back there. It is a line that links me in to the deep reservoir of my memory.” So that, I think, is also true. That’s another thing that music does for us. It — and I bet you’ve experienced this too, sort of Proustian in a way. You hear something that reminds you when you first heard that piece or what you were doing or perhaps a person or an environment.

So those are the two advantages of music. There are others. You can dance to it, can relax to it, etc., etc., but this idea of tapping into who you are, the whole who you are as a person, through getting you back in touch with your inner memories, and also perhaps giving you hope that there is something out there better than what we deal with on a daily basis. These are two important aspects of music, and it’s interesting that one would come from the astrophysicist Kepler and the other from the country music singer Charlie Pride, but that’s one of the wonders of the diversity of music, I suppose.

Okay. Well, we don’t guarantee you here any kind of divine experience as part of signing up for Music 112. A divine transcendental experience is not an entitlement here. We don’t guarantee it. But you may have yours at some point in your life, and I suspect it will come in some way in association with art, whether the visual arts, architecture, music, whatever. And it may come in music — with the music — of Mozart, but how can you sort of load the dice here? How can you get things in your favor? How could you put yourself — you know, success in life is positioning yourself — you say it’s lucky. Well, you put yourself there to be lucky. How can you get in the position to have this experience?

Well, take a look at the sheet. I was sitting there last night typing this up. It seemed to me that we used to put these lists on the board but then the lists got so long I decided just to put them on a sheet for today. So here’s the list, “Craig’s Essential Mozart,” if you will: piano concertos; Mozart sort of invented the piano concerto. We’re going to watch a concerto shortly in music — in section. I’m going to just recommend this to you. I see we have our performers here.

We’re going to go on now. We’ll end up here a little bit with some — talking about opera here. You can read through this.

Chapter 4. Mozart’s Don Giovanni and Conclusion [00:34:21]

Mozart wrote three great operas, Marriage of Figaro, Don Giovanni, The Magic Flute, and we’re now going to segue over to a discussion of opera. What’s opera? Musically heightened drama. Music is there behind the drama and it reinforces it. It does the same thing in film. Ever think about horror films? What’s the scariest horror film you’ve ever seen? A. J.

Student: “Chucky.”

Professor Craig Wright: “Chucky”? [laughter] Okay. There’s one I don’t know about, but “Shining,” something like that? I don’t know. Think of something. I don’t get scared when watching a movie until what happens? I see some really scary visual? Come on. What scares you in a movie? Supposing they took the sound track out of these horror films. You wouldn’t be frightened at all.

It’s — I think we have a much more visceral response to sound than we do to visual images and that’s what’s going on globally in opera, and opera, as you know, is made up of an introductory overture and then these numbers such as recitatives where the composer tells you what’s going on. You remember the Bugs Bunny — or I guess it’s Warner Brothers cartoon: “Be very quiet. I am hunting wabbit,” [plays piano] that kind of thing, [laughter] so that’s a recitative, what’s going on. Then somebody will come out and sing about how they felt about what just happened. That’s what’s goes on in an aria. And arias will tend to repeat words, and on and on it goes to give a sense of emotion, and there are choruses involved in it from time to time too.

As we mentioned, Mozart wrote three wonderful operas, two of them by the librettist Lorenzo da Ponte. Read in your textbook, there’s a box on Lorenzo da Ponte, absolutely fascinating life, far more fascinating than fiction could ever make it, but we’re going to talk now about Don Giovanni. What music is this? Lynda, could we have the next piece of music? [music playing] What’s that? Nice and loud. Somebody’s got it out there.

Student: Overture to Don Giovanni.

Professor Craig Wright: Overture to Don Giovanni. You had it as the basis of your Listening Exercise twenty-five on sonata-allegro form. But it’s a different side of Mozart. This is the demonic Mozart. It’s the story of a rake, a misogynist, a woman-hater who tries to seduce every woman who comes in to view simply for the sadistic pleasure of doing so. So that’s the basis of this.

It’s an interesting time in the history of intellectual processes and political processes too. Here we have a story that involves male, female [dog barks] — don’t be distracted, because this one of our cast members, the dog, and he’s bringing Richard up along with him. No — don’t go. So we have this conflict between male and female interests. We also have the social being played out here because we have the high-class nobleman, who goes around disguised and seducing women, as the villain and the noble people here are actually the peasants and servants who are doing his bidding. So that’s the kind of tension that exists here in Don Giovanni and note the year up there on the board, 17 — What — I guess it’s on your sheet for Don Giovanni right down there at the bottom, 1788, the year before the French Revolution. Okay.

We have a guest with us today and we’re going to introduce him, Professor Richard Lalli. How many of you know who Richard Lalli is? Okay. Oh, good, a famous guy already. Richard is a professor of music here at Yale. And what really annoys me is that a year or so ago he won the single most important prize at Yale University. And what is it? The prize for the best teacher at Yale. How many undergraduate instructors do we have here at Yale? Four, five, six hundred? Numero uno over there, but more — equally interesting, he is also what? Hm? An incoming master of Jonathan Edwards College starting next semester? Starting in January. And he happens to be a darn good singer, as you will see here in just a minute.

So we’re going to start out here with a little of this, and Richard and his friend are going to help us out here. Hi, there. [laughter] And did — okay. So — What we’ve got here is an aria first for Leporello, who is the servant of Don Giovanni. He’s a kind of low on the academic totem pole. He’s kind of like a TA in life here. So we’ve called on [laughter] Jacob. So this is Leporello, and as you will notice, Mozart crafts the music to fit Leporello. It’s not highfalutin music. It has a rather narrow range. It doesn’t go way — it has a lot of patter recitative in it, and at the very beginning Mozart kind of blocks out this pacing idea. Leporello is down underneath a balcony. Don Giovanni is up above trying to seduce Donna Anna and he [Leporello] is impatient and he hates this position in life in which he has been put. [piano playing] [singing] Bravo. [applause]

And thanks to Santana also who learned this part in one day, basically. Right? Yeah. All right. So things have not gone well this time. Unexpectedly, Donna Anna has been able to rebuff Don Giovanni and she now wants to unmask him — and she would then find out that he’s really the leading nobleman of the town — wants to unmask him. She chases him — after him, out of the — he runs away. She’s screaming. She calls for her father who is the aging Commendatore and the Commendatore — excuse me. The Commendatore confronts Don Giovanni, tries to challenge him to a duel and they engage in such a duel.

So let’s — we’ll have Don Giovanni come up and let me grab the Commendatore’s music. Great. Here we go. Thanks. So I have — Here comes the Commendatore. Here comes the minor music and we’re going to have a confrontation between the Commendatore, the old commander, and the youthful, spry, vocally skillful Don Giovanni. [laughter] [music playing] [sings] [singing] [dog barking] [applause] [inaudible]

I would have Don Giovanni something like this and have [inaudible]. Okay. Excuse me. The Commendatore was just stabbed like this. Don Giovanni is over top of him. Mozart wrote this exquisite little trio here. It goes by very quickly. Nobody ever notices it but it’s some of the most beautiful music that he ever wrote. We ended up on a diminished chord and then the penetrative diminished chord again at the top of that line where he gets stabbed. Okay, and then we have this little trio. Leporello — He’s just cowering. He just wants to get out of here. This is the worst thing he’s ever seen. Don Giovanni is a bit surprised but says, “You had it coming to you,” and the Commendatore is about to buy the farm here. He’s on his way out. So it’s just this little about — I don’t know — ten, twelve measures or so of exquisitely beautiful music and we’ll do it nice and slowly for you. [plays piano] [singing] Well, that’s that scene. [applause] [inaudible].

Don Giovanni goes on to another seduction in which he attempts to engage in amorous compromise with [inaudible] he makes his advance and she is initially intrigued. Will she succumb to his advances? Let’s find out. [piano playing] [singing] [dog barking] [laughter] [applause] That’s it for today. Next week we’re doing [Wagner’s] Goetterdaemmerung!

[end of transcript]

Back to Top
mp3 mov [100MB] mov [500MB]