After Tuesday's half-day of rehearsals (which would have been a full day except for a scheduling conflict I couldn't move), and yesterday's all-day rehearsals, my intellectual capabilities and creativity seem a bit diminished this week. We open tonight with Don Giovanni and close Sunday afternoon with La Clemenza di Tito. I'm meant to work on our product roadmap for the next 5-10 sprints (i.e., through years' end) while also delivering at least one more feature for the current sprint that ends Tuesday. But I really need a nap.
Meanwhile, Ravinia and Maestro Conlon have sent us a couple of blog posts and column about the operas. On Don Giovanni:
[O]f the many implications of this extremely complex narrative, there is an overwhelming presence that, at the beginning and the end, orients the listener. And it is accomplished without a word of text, nor preamble, nor explanation. The terrifying power of the key of D minor, in the hands of the transcendent genius of Mozart, tells us that this is a cautionary tale, illustrating the fate of those who transgress without repentance. The composer, so generous in his own clemency, pardons almost every character in his operas, but here has made a stunning and powerful exception. In an era when portrayal of death on the stage was relatively rare and unfashionable, Mozart presents us the protagonist’s damnation in full view.
On La Clemenza di Tito:
In 1789, the French populace rose up against their king and queen and brought about a revolution, eventually executing their monarchs. Thirteen years before that, the American colonies had rebelled against the British Crown and established their own sovereign nation.
None of this was lost on royals across the entire continent of Europe, who reacted with alarm and concern. The subject of “good governance,” even by monarchs who claimed to rule by Divine Right, acquired a new urgency. The French Revolution struck especially close to Holy Roman Emperor Leopold II, for Marie Antoinette, the last French queen, was his sister.
So in 1791, when Leopold was to be crowned in Prague, a celebratory opera was to be commissioned. And because one of the contemporary models of Age of Enlightenment authority was that of the “Enlightened Despot,” the new opera could both flatter the new leader and subtly suggest to him an exemplary model of authority. The chosen opera would portray a Roman emperor—and by extension the newly crowned monarch—as not only a man of justice but also of mercy.
Finally, writer John Schauer makes the argument that seeing these operas in Ravinia's Martin Theater, which holds 850, will give you a better experience than seeing one at Dodger Stadium.