Imagining Don Giovanni

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9781575110998: Imagining Don Giovanni
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Set in Prague in 1787, tells of the production of Mozart's Don Giovanni as Mozart and librettist Da Ponte argue over the themes of the opera and over the ideas that the infamous Casanova brings to the scene.

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From Publishers Weekly:

In heritage and career choice (his father is the legendary conductor; he himself is a producer of classical recordings and the author of Tales from the Opera), Rudel would seem just the fellow to embroider on a bit of historical musical trivia. But his debut novel, drawing on a purported meeting in 1777 Prague between Mozart and romantic adventurer Casanova, does not develop into a successful dramatic narrative. Rudel imagines a secret collaboration between the composer of sublime music and the notorious libertine, aided by librettist Lorenzo Da Ponte, a creative symbiosis that significantly influences the final version of Don Giovanni. In addition to describing the logistic and artistic complications of writing and staging the opera, Rudel attempts a plot that seems straight out of a morality play: Mozart jeopardizes his marriage by dallying with other women; Casanova takes it upon himself to show Mozart the folly of his ways. ("Give me your hand," Casanova ordered. "We'll make a pact. I'll lead you to the love you need to compose.... You'll turn Don Giovanni into a legend; it will be your payment to me.") Descriptions are often labored, with all the musicality of a pulp fiction bodice ripper. At times, characters seem to deliver history lessons rather than think, feel and speak for themselves. (During a walk in the Prague ghetto, Casanova provides some historical facts about the edicts against Jews.) When the Marquis de Sade sends exhortations from an asylum, the narrative hits its lowest notes. Those attempting to understand what made Don Giovanni such a revolutionary opera may enjoy this fanciful account, but most will feel that even The Magic Flute contains more reality than this lackluster production. Agent, Eric Simonoff at Janklow Nesbit.

Copyright 2001 Cahners Business Information, Inc.

From Booklist:

Rudel takes a moment in history--when Mozart met Casanova to discuss a new opera based on the life of the legendary lover Don Giovanni--and expands it into a wonderful story of passion and freedom. Mozart and his librettist, poet Lorenzo da Ponte, are on a very tight deadline to finish the new opera, which isn't going well. They enlist the help of another notorious womanizer, Giacomo Casanova, with the hope that his experiences and insightfulness can breathe life into the characters. In the meantime, Mozart's marriage is crumbling, the opera house's manager is demanding that the opera open on time, and Mozart and da Ponte are having a battle of wills over the direction the opera is going. With a couple of letters from an imprisoned Marquis de Sade to spice up the story, the excitement and sexual tension build, culminating with the opening night of Don Giovanni. Rudel atmospherically captures the essence of eighteenth-century Prague, from high-society balls to rustic local taverns. Carolyn Kubisz
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved

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