Don Giovanni: the Characters and Their Music Essay

1615 Words Mar 23rd, 2006 7 Pages
Don Giovanni: The Characters and Their Music
Giving Character's character is one of the most interesting challenges in operatic composition; another is composing for all the specific characters. A composer has to distinguish between characters through his music. Jan can't sound like Fran, and Dan can't sound like Stan. Each character must have his/her own traits. Mozart's opera, Don Giovanni, provides us with many different characters to compare and contrast.
One scene in particular lends itself to the comparison of Don Giovanni, Leporello, and The Commendator. Scene fifteen of Act two, places all three characters in close interaction with each other, making it easy to compare and find out how Mozart and his Librettist Lorenzo da Ponte
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He also uses certain melodic lines for each character. The Commendator's musical lines are the most striking. He often has huge leaps in his part, giving the listener a full dose of the impeding force he is. The space creates a feeling of something bigger and more powerful then a mortal. It is important to note that a lot of these giant leaps are not easy. There are many augmented fourths, minor sevenths, and other strange intervals that he has to navigate through. An example of the strange interval leaps can be found from measure 552 to 461. This little section takes a break from having a key center and instead floats around between diminished chords. This only adds to the "something not of this earth feeling" the Commendator gives us.
Mozart also uses repeated notes to produce a powerful effect. The orchestral motive moves up by step each measure while the Commendator stays on the same note. This occurs between measures 465 and 470 and again between measures 475 and 478. Don Giovanni once again has similar qualities as the Commendator. The large jumps are present but they are tonally different. They are often very key oriented, outlining triads or doing some sort of five to one motion. The harmonically stable nature of his vocal part lends itself to his personality. Some of his lines almost sound like fanfares. Fanfares are very bold sounding. Appropriately his fanfare like lines begins at measure 504 when he starts bragging that he is not

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