Sunday, November 3, 2013

Guess who's coming to dinner at Don Giovanni's place

Ildar Abdrazakov as Don Giovanni and Andrew Foster-Williams as Leporello, in Washington last October
Don Giovanni, you invited me
to dine with you, and I have come!

Matti Salminen (bs), the Commendatore; Berlin Philharmonic, Daniel Barenboim, cond. Erato, recorded April 1991

Kurt Moll (bs), the Commendatore; London Philharmonic Orchestra, Sir Georg Solti, cond. Decca, recorded Oct.-Nov. 1978

Giorgio Tozzi (bs), the Commendatore; Metropolitan Opera Orchestra, Karl Böhm, cond. Live performance, Dec. 14, 1957

by Ken

In Friday night's special Sunday Classics "TV Watch" post we listened to Leporello's Catalog Aria from Act I of Don Giovanni, in which he tries to pacify the hysterical Donna Elvira, abandoned by Leporello's master, Don Giovanni, with an outline of his sexual exploits. Or if not to pacify her, at least to put her off until he can find a way to shake loose from her.

It's a manageable leap to use that as a springboard to one of the towering chunks of musico-dramatic literature that I've had it in mind to get to before we wind up business. So today, with a minimum of chatter from me, we're going to tackle the Final Scene. (Just to be clear, the end of the "Final Scene" isn't the end of the opera. There's an epilogue, which doesn't figure in our considerations today.)


which we heard in a May 2010 Mozart post with a heavy concentration of Don Giovanni. Somehow the disguised Don Giovanni's attempted seduction of another Spanish noblewoman, Donna Anna, went wrong (under extremely puzzling circimstances), and the Don found himself hotly pursued by Anna's father, the Commendatore, and was then unable to fend off the old man's demand that the Don duel him. The Commendatore insisted, and in the ensuing duel was killed.

In the course of the Don's and Leporello's separate wanderings in Act II, they both wind up seeking refuge in a graveyard that happens to house a statue of none other than the Commendatore, leading to this scene.

MOZART: Don Giovanni, K. 527: Act II, Recitative and Duo, Leporello and Don Giovanni, "O statua gentilissima" (" O most noble statue")
A graveyard. Night.

This lonely spot is decorated with a number of
statues, including one of the

[LEPORELLO and DON GIOVANNI, who have been disguised as each other, encounter each other in this graveyard -- LEPORELLO fresh from having just been nearly lynched as his master in the great Sextet, which we heard in that June 2010 Sunday Classics Mozart post, DON GIOVANNI fresh from having nearly conquered a woman who took him for LEPORELLO.]

Recitative, Don Giovanni and Leporello (and . . . )
DON GIOVANNI: Naturally I took advantage of her mistake. I don't know how she recognised me, but suddenly she began to scream. I heard people coming and I ran away. Then quickly I climbed over that wall.
LEPORELLO: And you tell me this with such indifference?
LEPORELLO: But what if this girl had been my wife?
DON GIOVANNI: Better still!
You will have your last laugh before the next dawn!
DON GIOVANNI: Who spoke?
LEPORELLO: Ah, it must be some spirit from another world who knows you well.
DON GIOVANNI: Keep quiet, you fool. Who goes there?
He puts his hand on his sword.]
THE STATUE: Audacious libertine! Leave the dead in peace!
LEPORELLO: I told you so!
DON GIOVANNI: It must be someone outside having a joke on us! Hey, isn't this the Commendatore's statue? Read the inscription.
LEPORELLO: Excuse me, but I never learned to read by moonlight.
DON GIOVANNI: Read, I tell you!
LEPORELLO: "Upon the base one who sent me to my death I here await vengeance." Did you hear that? I'm afraid!
DON GIOVANNI: You old buffoon! Tell him that tonight I expect him to dinner!
LEPORELLO: What madness! But do you think -- oh Lord, look at the terrible glances he throws us! He seems alive! As if he heard us and wants to speak!
DON GIOVANNI: Go on, go over there! Or I'll kill you on the spot and bury you right here!
LEPORELLO: Softly, softly, sir. Now I obey.

Duo, Leporello and Don Giovanni
LEPORELLO: Oh, most noble statue
of the great Commendatore . . .
Master, I'm afraid.
I cannot go through with it!
DON GIOVANNI: Finish it, or in your breast
I'll sink this blade!
LEPORELLO [aside]: What a mess! What an idea!
DON GIOVANNI [aside]: What fun! What a joke!
LEPORELLO: I'm frozen with fright!
DON GIOVANNI: I want to make him tremble!
LEPORELLO: O most noble statue,
although you're made of marble...
Ah, master, look!
He's gazing at me still!
LEPORELLO: No, wait!
Sir, my master,
I said my master, not I,
would like to dine with you!
Ah, what a scene this is!
Oh Heaven, he nodded his head!
DON GIOVANNI: Go on! You're a buffoon!
LEPORELLO: Look again, master!
DON GIOVANNI: What should I look at?
With his marble head,
he nods like this, like this!
Speak, if you can.
You'll come to dinner?
LEPORELLO: I can barely move,
my strength, oh Lord, has fled!
For pity's sake, let's go,
let's fly away from here!
DON GIOVANNI: The scene is truly strange,
the old man will come to dinner.
Let us go and prepare it,
let us leave this place.
[They leave.]

Nicolai Ghiaurov (bs), Don Giovanni; Walter Berry (bs-b), Leporello; Franz Crass (bs), the Commendatore; Philharmonia Orchestra, Otto Klemperer, cond. EMI, recorded June-July 1966

Bernd Weikl (b), Don Giovanni; Gabriel Bacquier (b), Leporello; Kurt Moll (bs), the Commendatore; London Philharmonic Orchestra, Sir Georg Solti, cond. Decca, recorded Oct.-Nov. 1978

Cesare Siepi (bs), Don Giovanni; Fernando Corena (bs), Leporello; Giorgio Tozzi (bs), the Commendatore; Metropolitan Opera Orchestra, Karl Böhm, cond. Live performance, Dec. 14, 1957


Don Giovanni enjoys a banquet of sorts, with Leporello in customarily grumbling attendance. Before the repast is finished, though, they will be interrupted by two guests, one uninvited, the other invited. We're going to listen to the Final Scene first in its three component parts: the Don dining at home; the ruckus caused by the uninvited guest, and finally the scene caused by the invited guest.

MOZART: Don Giovanni, K. 527: Final Scene

(1) Don Giovanni dines at home
A room in Don Giovanni's house

The table has been set for dinner.
musicians are awaiting the order to play.

DON GIOVANNI: The dinner is prepared.
Play, my dear friends!
Since I spend my money freely,
I want to be amused.
Leporello, serve me, quickly.
LEPORELLO: I am ready to serve you.
DON GIOVANNI: Since I spend my money freely,
I want to be amused, etc,
Play, my dear friends, etc.
[The orchestra begins to play an aria from Martin's Una cosa rara.]
LEPORELLO: Excellent! Cosa rara!
DON GIOVANNI: What do you think of this fine concert?
LEPORELLO: It is worthy of you.
DON GIOVANNI: Ah, what a delicious dish!
LEPORELLO [aside]: Ah what a barbarous appetite!
What gigantic mouthfuls!
I think I'm going to faint! etc.
DON GIOVANNI [aside]: As he sees my huge mouthfuls,
he thinks he's going to faint, etc.
LEPORELLO: Ah, what a barbarous appetite, etc.
DON GIOVANNI: As he sees my huge mouthfuls, etc.
[The orchestra begins to play a piece from Sarti's Fra i due litiganti [Between the Two Litigants].]
Hurray for The Litiganti.
DON GIOVANNI: Pour the wine!
Excellent marzimino!
LEPORELLO [aside]: This piece of pheasant
I myself will swallow.
DON GIOVANNI [aside]: The rogue is eating!
I'll pretend I do not notice.
[The orchestra begins to play from Mozart's Marriage of Figaro.]
LEPORELLO: I know this piece only too well.
DON GIOVANNI: Leporello!
LEPORELLO [his mouth full]: Master!
DON GIOVANNI: Speak clearly, you rascal!
LEPORELLO: A cold prevents me
from speaking better.
DON GIOVANNI: While I eat whistle something.
LEPORELLO: I don't know how.
LEPORELLO: Excuse me, but your cook is so excellent
that I too wanted to taste it.
DON GIOVANNI: So excellent is my cook,
that he too wanted to taste it.
DON GIOVANNI and LEPORELLO: So excellent, etc.

Bryn Terfel (b), Don Giovanni; Michele Pertusi (bs-b), Leporello; London Philharmonic Orchestra, cond. Decca, recorded live in concert, Oct. 5 and 7, 1996

Cesare Siepi (bs), Don Giovanni; Otto Edelmann (bs-b), Leporello; Vienna Philharmonic, Wilhelm Furtwängler, cond. Live performance, July 27, 1953

Part 2: Enter (who else?) Elvira
DON GIOVANNI and LEPORELLO: So excellent is my/his cook,
that he/I too wanted to taste it.
DONNA ELVIRA [entering excitedly]: The last test of your love
I want to make now.
I no longer remember your lies.
Pity I feel.
DONNA ELVIRA [kneeling]: My sorrowful heart
does not beg for boons.
DON GIOVANNI: I am amazed! What do you ask?
If you don't arise, I won't remain standing.
DONNA ELVIRA: Ah, do not laugh at my despair!
LEPORELLO: She almost makes me weep, etc.
DON GIOVANNI: I laugh at you? Heavens! What for?
What do you want, my dear?
DONNA ELVIRA: That you change your ways!
DON GIOVANNI: Good for you!
DONNA ELVIRA: Faithless heart!
DON GIOVANNI: Good for you!
DONNA ELVIRA: Faithless heart!
DONNA ELVIRA and LEPORELLO: Faithless heart!
DON GIOVANNI: Now let me eat,
and if you wish to, eat with me.
DONNA ELVIRA: Stay here then, ingrate!
Wallow in your crimes,
a horrible example of iniquity! etc.
LEPORELLO: If her grief fails to move him,
his heart is of stone, or he has none at all, etc.
DON GIOVANNI: Hurray for women,
hurray for wine!
The substance and glory of humanity! etc.
[DONNA ELVIRA starts out of one door, screams,
recoils and rushes through another door.
DON GIOVANNI and LEPORELLO: Why did she scream?
DON GIOVANNI: Go and see what it was.
[LEPORELLO goes out and before reentering also screams.]
DON GIOVANNI: What a scream!
Leporello, what is it?
LEPORELLO: Oh, sir, for pity's sake
don't leave the room!
The man of stone, the man in white,
ah, master, I'm afraid, I'm going to faint.
If you could see what he looks like,
if you could hear how he moves!
Ta ta ta ta!
DON GIOVANNI: I understand none of this.
LEPORELLO: Ta ta ta ta!
DON GIOVANNI: You've gone out of your mind.
[There is a loud knocking at the door.]
LEPORELLO: Ah, listen!
DON GIOVANNI: Someone's knocking.
Open the door!
LEPORELLO: I'm afraid!
DON GIOVANNI: Open it, I say!
DON GIOVANNI: Lunatic! To put an end to it
I shall have to go myself.
LEPORELLO: I have no wish to see that again,
so quietly I'll hide.

[in German] Sena Jurinac (s), Donna Elvira; George London (b), Don Giovanni; Vienna State Opera Orchestra, Karl Böhm, cond. Live performance, Nov. 6, 1955

Gertrud Ottenthal (s), Donna Elvira; Renato Bruson (b), Don Giovanni; Nikola Ghiuselev (bs), Leporello; Cologne Radio Symphony Orchestra, Neeme Järvi, cond. Chandos, recorded Aug. 6-14, 1990

(3) Enter the invited dinner guest
[THE STATUE enters. LEPORELLO hides under the table.]
THE STATUE: Don Giovanni, you invited me
to dine with you, and I have come!
DON GIOVANNI: I never would have believed it,
but I will do what I can.
Leporello, see to it
that another dinner is served at once!
LEPORELLO: Ah, master, we are lost.
THE STATUE: Wait a moment!
He who dines on Heavenly food
has no need for the food of the mor tals!
Other more serious considerations
have caused me to come here!
LEPORELLO: I feel as if I have a fever,
for I cannot control my limbs.
DON GIOVANNI: Speak then! What do you ask? What do you wish?
THE STATUE: I will speak. Listen! My time is short! etc.
DON GIOVANNI: Speak then, for I am listening, etc.
LEPORELLO: For I cannot control my limbs, etc.
THE STATUE: You invited me to dinner,
now you know your duty.
Answer me: will you come to dine with me?
LEPORELLO: Oh my! Excuse him, but he doesn't have time.
DON GIOVANNI: No one will say of me
that I have ever been afraid.
THE STATUE: Make up your mind!
DON GIOVANNI: I have done so already!
THE STATUE: You will come?
LEPORELLO: Tell him no!
DON GIOVANNI: My heart beats firmly.
I'm not afraid: I'll come!
THE STATUE: Give me your hand upon it!
DON GIOVANNI: Here it is!
[He gives the statue his hand.]
Oh me!
THE STATUE: What is wrong?
DON GIOVANNI: What is this deadly chill?
THE STATUE: Repent! Change your ways,
for this is your last hour!
DON GIOVANNI [trying to free himself]: No, no, I will not repent.
Let me be!
THE STATUE: Repent, scoundrel!
DON GIOVANNI: No, you old fool!
THE STATUE: Repent! etc.
THE STATUE: Ah, your time is up!
[The statue disappears. Flames appear on all sides and the earth begins to tremble under Don Giovanni's feet.]
DON GIOVANNI: What strange fear
now assails my soul!
Where do those
flames of horror come from?
CHORUS OF DEMONS: No horror is too dreadful for you!
Come, there is worse in store!
DON GIOVANNI: Who lacerates my soul?
Who torments my body?
What torment, oh me, what agony!
What a Hell! What a terror!
LEPORELLO: What a look of desperation!
The gestures of the damned!
What cries, what laments!
How he makes me afraid!
CHORUS OF DEMONS: No horror is too dreadful, etc.
DON GIOVANNI: Who lacerates, etc.
LEPORELLO: What a look, etc.
[The flames engulf DON GIOVANNI.]

Kurt Moll (bs), the Commendatore; Bernd Weikl (b), Don Giovanni; Gabriel Bacquier (b), Leporello; London Opera Chorus, London Philharmonic Orchestra, Sir Georg Solti, cond. Decca, recorded Oct.-Nov. 1978

Franz Crass (bs), the Commendatore; Nicolai Ghiaurov (bs), Don Giovanni; Walter Berry (bs-b), Leporello; New Philharmonia Chorus and Orchestra, Otto Klemperer, cond. EMI, recorded June-July 1966


Ezio Pinza (bs), Don Giovanni; Alexander Kipnis (bs), Leporello; Jarmila Novotna (s), Donna Elvira; Norman Cordon (bs), the Commendatore; Metropolitan Opera Chorus and Orchestra, Bruno Walter, cond. Live performance, Mar. 7, 1942

Cesare Siepi (bs), Don Giovanni; Fernando Corena (bs), Leporello; Lisa della Casa (s), Donna Elivra; Giorgio Tozzi (bs), the Commendatore; Metropolitan Opera Chorus and Orchestra, Karl Böhm, cond. Live performance, Dec. 14, 1957

Eberhard Wächter (b), Don Giovanni; Giuseppe Taddei (b), Leporello; Elisabeth Schwarzkopf (s), Donna Elvira; Gottlob Frick (bs), the Commendatore; Philharmonia Chorus and Orchestra, Carlo Maria Giulini, cond. EMI, recorded Oct.-Nov. 1959

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