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The Vienna Don Giovanni

The Vienna Don Giovanni

Ian Woodfield
Copyright Date: 2010
Edition: NED - New edition
Published by: Boydell and Brewer,
Pages: 232
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  • Book Info
    The Vienna Don Giovanni
    Book Description:

    In the year following its 1787 Prague première, Don Giovanni was performed in Vienna. Everyone, according to the well-known account by Da Ponte, thought something was wrong with it. In response, Mozart made changes, producing a Vienna 'version' of the opera, cutting two of the original arias but inserting three newly-composed pieces. The dilemma faced by musicians and scholars ever since has been whether to preserve the opera in these two 'authentic' forms, or whether to fashion a hybrid text incorporating the best of both. This study presents new evidence about the Vienna form of the opera, based on the examination of late eighteenth-century manuscript copies. The Prague Conservatory score is identified as the primary exemplar for the Viennese dissemination of Don Giovanni, which is shown to incorporate two quite distinct versions, represented by the performing materials in Vienna (O.A.361) and the early Lausch commercial copy in Florence. To account for this phenomenon, seen also in early sources of the Prague Don Giovanni and Così fan tutte, a general theory of transmission for the Mozart Da Ponte operas is proposed, which clarifies the relationship between the fluid text produced by re-creation (performing) and the static text generated by replication (copying). Aspects of the compositional history of Don Giovanni are uncovered. Evidence to suggest that Mozart first considered an order in which Donna Elvira's scena precedes the comic duet 'Per queste tue manine' is assessed. The essential truth of Da Ponte's account - that the revision of the opera in Vienna was an interactive process, involving the views of performers, the reactions of audiences and the composer's responses - seems to be fully borne out. The final part of the study investigates the late eighteenth-century transmission of Don Giovanni. The idea that hybrid versions gained currency only in the nineteenth century or in the lighter Singspiel tradition is challenged. IAN WOODFIELD is Professor and Director of Research at the School of Music and Sonic Arts, Queen's University Belfast.

    eISBN: 978-1-84615-899-5
    Subjects: Music

Table of Contents

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  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-iv)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. v-vi)
  3. List of Illustrations
    (pp. vii-vii)
  4. List of Tables
    (pp. viii-ix)
  5. Preface
    (pp. x-xi)
  6. A Note on the Use of the Term ‘Score’
    (pp. xii-xiii)
  7. Glossary
    (pp. xiv-xiv)
  8. Abbreviations
    (pp. xv-xv)
  9. Plot Summary
    (pp. xvi-xvii)
  10. Casts of the First Performances
    (pp. xviii-xviii)
  11. Introduction
    (pp. 1-12)

    According to Da Ponte’s famous account of the Vienna reception ofDon Giovanni, everyone except the composer thought that the work was somehow flawed.¹ Responding to the popular verdict, Mozart is supposed to have made alterations, but still his opera failed to please, and only after repeated performances did its true quality win recognition.² The passage relating toDon Giovanniruns as follows:

    The Emperor called me in and, showering me with gracious expressions of praise, made me a gift of another hundred ‘zecchini’, and told me that he very much wanted to seeDon Giovanni. Mozart returned [and] immediately...

  12. 1 The Prague Don Giovanni
    (pp. 13-30)

    The parts produced for the première appear now to be lost, but a theatre score with additions by Mozart is owned by the Prague Conservatory. The history of this important source is outlined by Jonášová in her article on Gugler’s edition ofDon Giovanni.¹ A conscientious and reflective scholar, Gugler adopted a thoroughly modern approach in seeking to locate and examine early manuscript copies and sets of parts. During the course of his preparatory work, he wrote to Franz Thomé in Prague, applying for permission to see the parts. He was informed that they had been lent to the Böhmische...

  13. 2 The Vienna Don Giovanni
    (pp. 31-114)

    The source situation of the ViennaDon Giovanniturned out to be a great deal more complicated than might have been anticipated. Before we look in detail at the extant manuscripts, it will be useful to summarise the overall picture. This is given as Fig. 8.

    The Conservatory score was the prime exemplar for the Viennese transmission of the opera. It is unclear whether this manuscript was itself taken to Vienna, or whether a copy was made and forwarded. But whether directly or indirectly, this source generated three distinct branches. In the first occurs an important exception to the usual...

  14. 3 The Late-Eighteenth-Century Dissemination of Don Giovanni
    (pp. 115-141)

    By far the most significant element in the reception of Mozart’s operas during the composer’s lifetime was their transfer into the cultural world of theSingspiel. Typically, a number of different translations and adaptations would begin to gain currency in the various regions of the German-speaking world a year or two after the original première. In the case ofDon Giovanni, this tradition began to gain momentum in 1789. There is no evidence that Mozart was himself consulted about any of these new German language productions, but his involvement in further stagings of his operas in Italian is demonstrable. He...

  15. Conclusion
    (pp. 142-150)

    In the later stages of work on this study ofDon Giovanni, it became increasingly apparent that the methods of transmission used to distribute scores of the Prague and Vienna productions resembled quite closely those seen in the dissemination ofCosì fan tutte. What seems to have been usual practice in both cities is represented in Fig. 15, a theoretical model of how the process worked. Despite the multiplicity of materials generated by any stage production and the sometimes chaotic interaction between them, an underlying process can be observed, based around two types of copy: the conducting score and the...

  16. Appendix 1 Error transmission
    (pp. 151-157)
  17. Appendix 2 Page-break analysis
    (pp. 158-188)
  18. Notes
    (pp. 189-202)
  19. Bibliography
    (pp. 203-208)
  20. Index
    (pp. 209-214)
  21. Back Matter
    (pp. 215-215)