Friday, May 8, 2015

DR. VON LYRIC: A Serenade to, for, and by Don Giovanni

The Don has been charming audiences (and perhaps causing slight anxiety) over the past weeks at the Shubert Theatre. One of his many seductive strategies is his lovely serenade at the beginning of Act 2. It is not completely without guile or deception or some inherent badness (nothing the Don does, is) - he is after all pretending to be his servant, has just played a cruel trick on the vulnerable Elvira, and is soon to ruthlessly beat up the innocent Masetto - but for the moment he's all sexy melody.

"Ecco ridente" from THE BARBER OF SEVILLE (Rossini)
Another serenade - perhaps more inherently sincere - although interestingly the singer (Count Almaviva) is pretending to be the student Lindoro much as Giovanni is disguising his own aristocratic station by pretending to be his servant Leporello.

The "Siciliana" from CAVALLERIA RUSTICANA (Mascagni)
Yet another lovely serenade... but which has deadly repercussions. Turiddu sings to his mistress Lola. Perhaps a somewhat foolish public act which seems to brazenly announce to all (including Lola's husband) what is going on - and leads to a violent Sicilian conclusion.

From FAUST (Gounod)
A nasty mocking serenade by Mephistopheles to the vulnerable Marguerite who has been seduced (and soon will be abandoned) by the reckless Faust.

"Serenade" from SCHWANENGESANG (Schubert)
Perhaps the most familiar of non-operatic serenades performed (exploited?) by The Three Tenors.

Harlekin's serenade from ARIADNE AUF NAXOS (Richard Strauss)
A more traditional serenade... à la Watteau. 

Susanna's 4th Act serenade from THE MARRIAGE OF FIGARO (Mozart)
One of Mozart' s most beautiful arias and one of his most subtle dramatic conceits.  Figaro, Susanna's very recent husband, is hidden and is consumed with raging jealousy when he overhears what he thinks is a passionate love song directed at the lecherous Count Almaviva by his wife. Susanna knows that Figaro is there listening and as she slyly seems to ostensibly address the Count, she pours out her deep love for her new husband... the orchestral sounds of plucked strings seem to echo the throbbing heartbeats of her deeply loving (and faithful) heart.

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