Monday, April 2, 2012

Casanova and the Art of Seduction

This morning I was looking at an interesting blog about Giacomo Casanova (2 April 1725 – 4 June 1798) and his association with Herr Mozart.

Interesting stuff. Of course, Casanova, besides his fame with the ladies, was an exceptional librettist and wrote for Mozart's operas. for those who are unfamiliar, the librettist is the one who writes the words for a dramatic musical work, like an opera or musical play. He is, in effect, the screen writer, if he was working on a film.
Anyway, it is said Casanova met Mozart in Prague in 1787, that Casanova worked on the libretto for Don Giovanni, Mozart's greatest opera.Don Giovanni is perhaps Mozart's most famous operatic work, though at the time, it was not as successful as some of his other more light-hearted pieces, but it has stood the test of time for its drama, its range of musical offering, and its subject.

The subject matter, of course, deals with a compulsive Lothario not at all unlike Casanova, who supposedly bedded thousands of willing women. In his autobiography "The Story of My Life" , written later in his life, he wrote, "There is no honest woman with an uncorrupted heart whom a man is not sure of conquering by dint of gratitude. It is one of the surest and shortest means." He did not rely on alcohol as a tool for seduction. He, instead, worked on being attentive, giving small favors to soften a woman's heart. He said, "A man who makes known his love by words is a fool", but he cautions that verbal communication is essential...without speech, the pleasure of love is diminished by at least two-thirds”—but words of love must be implied, not boldly proclaimed. He also stated that mutual consent was important. He strove to be an ideal escort, being witty, helpful, a confidant, and working his way, later on, eventually into the bedroom, at a woman's bidding.

When Mozart met Giacomo, Mozart was 31; the other 62! You can imagine the young musician enthusiastically encountering this famous man, willing to work on his libretto. You can imagine the stories shared! It must have been an exciting collaboration.

If you want to see a wonderful production of Don Giovanni on DVD, check out the Paris Opera production (see below) with starring Ruggero Raimondi, Kiri Te Kanawa,John Macurdy, Edda Moser. It's filmed on location in Vicenza, Italy, with fabulous vistas of the Italian countryside. It's breathtaking.

If you want to see a charming portrayal of Casanova, check out Heath Ledger in "Casanova". It's light-hearted, with wonderful costumes, again filmed in charming environs, and Ledger is absolutely beautiful! (What a loss that he is gone now).

If you want to hear some beautiful, dramatic music from the opera, see below:
Herbert von Karajan plays with the Vienna Philharmonic Orchestra!

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