Book

Understanding the Women of Mozart's Operas

Kristi Brown-Montesano

Published by University of California Press

Published in print February 2007 | ISBN: 9780520248021
Published online May 2012 | e-ISBN: 9780520932968 | DOI: https://dx.doi.org/10.1525/california/9780520248021.001.0001
Understanding the Women of Mozart's Operas

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This book offers a detailed exploration of the female roles in Mozart's four most frequently performed operas: Le nozze di Figaro, Don Giovanni, Così fan tutte, and Die Zauberflöte. Each chapter takes a close look at the music, libretto text, literary sources, and historical factors that give shape to a character, re-evaluating common assumptions and proposing fresh interpretations. Each character is viewed as the subject of a story, not merely the object of a hero's narrative or the stock figure of convention. From amiable Zerlina, to the awesome Queen of the Night, to calculating Despina, all of Mozart's women have something unique to say. These readings also tackle provocative social, political, and cultural issues, which are used in the operas to define positive and negative images of femininity: revenge, power, seduction, resistance, autonomy, sacrifice, faithfulness, class, maternity, and sisterhood. Keenly aware of the historical gap between the origins of these works and contemporary culture, the author discusses how attitudes about such concepts—past and current—influence our appreciation of these representations of women.

Keywords: Don Giovanni; Così fan tutte; Die Zauberflöte; libretto text; female characters; Zerlina; Despina; social issues; political issues; cultural issues

Book.  341 pages.  Illustrated.

Subjects: Musicology and Music History

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Table of Contents

Feminine Vengeance I: The Assailed/Assailant in Understanding the Women of Mozart's Operas

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Sisterhood and Seduction I: Abandonment and Rescue in Understanding the Women of Mozart's Operas

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Class Survival in Understanding the Women of Mozart's Operas

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Feminine Vengeance II: (Over)Powered Politics in Understanding the Women of Mozart's Operas

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Good Daughter, Good Wife in Understanding the Women of Mozart's Operas

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Woman's Identity I: Sacred and Profane in Understanding the Women of Mozart's Operas

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Sisterhood and Seduction II: Friendship and Class in Understanding the Women of Mozart's Operas

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Woman's Identity II: Loss and Legitimacy in Understanding the Women of Mozart's Operas

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Sisterhood and Seduction III: Intimacy and Influence in Understanding the Women of Mozart's Operas

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Survival Class in Understanding the Women of Mozart's Operas

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