Chapter

Class Survival

Kristi Brown-Montesano

in Understanding the Women of Mozart's Operas

Published by University of California Press

Published in print February 2007 | ISBN: 9780520248021
Published online May 2012 | e-ISBN: 9780520932968 | DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1525/california/9780520248021.003.0003
Class Survival

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It is no surprise that among the women of Don Giovanni, Zerlina is generally the critical favorite. Quite simply, she is easy to like. In contrast to Donna Anna and Donna Elvira, the country girl seems almost always to be smiling. Hers is arguably the happiest ending in the opera: Don Giovanni gives her some pleasure, but he is never able to do her lasting harm. By and large, peasant and servant girls fare poorly in the Don Juan tradition, quickly conquered and quickly forgotten. Zerlina, however, not only lands on her dainty feet, but plays a central role in the drama: she is the only woman in the opera who incontrovertibly refuses Don Giovanni's sexual advances, even after having once welcomed them. She takes a chance on the charming Giovanni, but later recoils, offering her best melodies with no apparent regrets to her roughshod, devoted beau, Masetto.

Keywords: Don Juan; Don Giovanni; Zerlina; sexual advances; peasant girls; Masetto

Chapter.  7925 words.  Illustrated.

Subjects: Musicology and Music History

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