While Don Giovanni has fascinated posterity, the Commendatore perhaps resonated more deeply with Mozart's age. Living statues haunted the late Enlightenment imagination, expressing, among other values, the new primacy of touch. For post-Cartesian thinkers, touch supplanted reason as the bedrock of cognition and aesthetics. Touch plays the same veridical role in Giovanni, above all in the famous handshake of Giovanni and the Commendatore. Three scenes are analysed, illuminated by the psychological theory of Berkeley, Condillac, and Herder. Zerlina's 'Vedrai carino' traces an integrative path from sight to touch. Her discourse recedes from conventional poetic and musical rhetoric into more immediate bodily representations. In 'Là ci darem la mano', conversely, music and poetry grow increasingly stylized as the false taking of hands proceeds. The banquet scene enacts another integration of representation and reality, as the Commendatore forces Giovannni to engage an older linguistic paradigm. This reading, grounded in the senses and signs, can temper more allegorical readings.
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