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Goldberg, S.H. (2019). Enchanted Seduction and Seductive Enchantment in Mozart's Don Giovanni. Fort Da, 25(1):56-67.

(2019). Fort Da, 25(1):56-67

Enchanted Seduction and Seductive Enchantment in Mozart's Don Giovanni

Steven H. Goldberg, M.D.

[…] Mozart is one of those rare creative beings who comes to disturb the sleep of the world. He was put on earth, it seems, not merely to provide an anodyne to sorrow and an antidote to loss, but to trouble our rest, to remind us that all is not well, that neither the center nor the perimeter can hold, that things are not what they seem to be, that masquerade and reality may well be interchangeable… . Mozart's universe is itself uncertain, a maze of doorways to the unknown and the unexpected.

— Solomon, Mozart: A Life, 1995, p. 509

The whole score has a demonic quality. Every emotion seems raised beyond normal pitch. The most apparently light-hearted music sounds in the grip of uncontrollable powers. It is not only the Don whose music is obsessive. All who come within his orbit are like creatures under an enchantment they cannot shake off.

— David Cairns, Mozart and His Operas, 2006, p. 145

As Zerlina is trying to convince Masetto of her innocence, she tells him, “But if I am not to blame? If I have been tricked by [Don Giovanni]?” (1787/1984, p. 105). And, as David Cairns (2006) writes in the first epigraph to this essay, “All who come within his orbit are like creatures under an enchantment they cannot shake off” (p. 145). It is not only the characters in the opera — we are all bewitched by Mozart and by this opera. Surely it is one of the most engaging, compelling, and disturbing operas ever written — not one to let us sleep (Solomon, 1995, p. 509). Not surprisingly, it is also one of the most written about and discussed of all operas — it is impossible not to be in its grip. Virtually every bar of music seems inspired and loaded with meaning. Even when we are most disdainful of the main character, we are seduced by the extraordinary allure of the music.

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