Are you serious? an examination of the role of the tenor in Mozart’s operas Don Giovanni and Così fan tutte.

UNCG Author/Contributor (non-UNCG co-authors, if there are any, appear on document)
Daniel Ross Hinson (Creator)
The University of North Carolina at Greensboro (UNCG )
Web Site:
Carla LaFevre

Abstract: Two tenor roles in Mozart’s late Italian operas, Don Ottavio in Don Giovanni and Ferrando in Così fan tutte, do not precisely fit the musical or dramatic expectations of either opera seria or opera buffa. Although Don Giovanni and Così fan tutte are considered exemplars of the opera buffa style, Mozart and his librettist, da Ponte, use music and text that resemble the antiquated style of opera seria to characterize these tenors. This dichotomy helps to define Don Giovanni and Così fan tutte as drammi giocosi, a hybrid operatic genre that mixes elements of opera seria and opera buffa, and features interactions between three distinct strata of characters: high (parti serie), middle (di mezzo carattere) and low (parti buffi). An examination of the late-eighteenth century decline of opera seria, and with it the gradual disappearance of the castrato from the operatic stage, is contrasted with the rise of opera buffa and the eventual ascendancy of the tenor as romantic protagonist. The connections between opera buffa and the commedia dell’arte tradition are examined with particular attention to the character types in Don Giovanni and Così fan tutte. Analysis of the arias from both tenor roles, especially with regard to musical form, tonality, and versification, confirms Don Ottavio and Ferrando as parti serie, and not pure parody of the opera seria style.

Additional Information

Language: English
Date: 2009
Commedia dell'arte, Da Ponte, Dramma giocoso, Mozart, Opera, tenor
Tenors (Singers)
Heroes in opera.
Mozart, Wolfgang Amadeus, $d 1756-1791. $t Cosi` fan tutte.
Mozart, Wolfgang Amadeus, $d 1756-1791. $t Don Giovanni.
Commedia dell'arte.
Operas $z Italy $x Analysis, appreciation.
Operas $z Italy $x Characters.

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