Sincerity and Seduction in 'Don Giovanni'

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This article considers the nature of seduction in Mozart's 'Don Giovanni' in light of recent musicological scholarship on the title character. Using Casanova's memoirs as a point of reference, Johnson argues that Mozart and Da Ponte deliberately employ a tone of sincerity that keeps to the surface in conveying Giovanni's words but reveals little about his motivations and withholds ultimate judgement about his character. Johnson contends that this tone of sincerity produces a powerfully seductive effect upon listeners as well and is a major factor in the polarized critical reception of the opera that continues to this day. The article combines musical, literary, and dramatic analysis and contains musical examples from ‘Don Giovanni’ and ‘Cosě fan tutte’.

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