cover of book

"Don Giovanni" Captured: Performance, Media, Myth
by Richard Will
University of Chicago Press, 2022
Cloth: 978-0-226-81541-1 | eISBN: 978-0-226-81542-8
Library of Congress Classification ML410.M9W6218 2021
Dewey Decimal Classification 782.1

“Don Giovanni” Captured considers the life of a single opera, engaging with the entire history of its recorded performance.
Mozart’s opera Don Giovanni has long inspired myths about eros and masculinity. Over time, its performance history has revealed a growing trend toward critique—an increasing effort on the part of performers and directors to highlight the violence and predatoriness of the libertine central character, alongside the suffering and resilience of his female victims.

In “Don Giovanni” Captured, Richard Will sets out to analyze more than a century’s worth of recorded performances of the opera, tracing the ways it has changed from one performance to another and from one generation to the next. Will consults audio recordings, starting with wax cylinders and 78s, as well as video recordings, including DVDs, films, and streaming videos. As Will argues, recordings and other media shape our experience of opera as much as live performance does. Seen as a historical record, opera recordings are also a potent reminder of the refusal of works such as Don Giovanni to sit still. By choosing a work with such a rich and complex tradition of interpretation, Will helps us see Don Giovanni as a standard-bearer for evolving ideas about desire and power, both on and off the stage.

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