[Marxism] In Search of Beethoven

John Sperry Nickerson strangelythanthemoon at gmail.com
Wed Sep 23 18:03:43 MDT 2009

Concerning the more conservative elements of Fidelio, it has always bothered
me that many have considered the end of Act I (the prison choir) as 'proof'
of Beethoven's democratic sympathies; there's always something amiss. True,
the prisoners dread being subjected to constant observation, but it always
feels like Beethoven thinks that it is the existence of even an even more
thorough observer that mitigates their suffering, and that this carries over
to dilemma of Florestan (where Pizarro is to be resisted, only insofar as he
fails to perfectly oppress).

On Wed, Sep 23, 2009 at 7:30 PM, Colin West <colingwest at mac.com> wrote:

> >
> >  As to the "deus ex machina,"  presumably the statue, you
> > simply fail to grasp the point that the statue cannot possibly exist--
> > it is the Commendatore in flesh and blood. If you're talking about the
> > flames under the trapdoor, that's a clever stage effect but no sort of
> > deus ex machina.
> >
>   No, the idea that the Commendatore returns from the dead is what I
> mean by deus ex machina.
> >> and Giovanni himself, although reputedly something of a roué,
> >> entirely fails to seduce anyone in the entire opera.
> >
> > He certainly succeeds with Zerlina and also with Elvira (at the start
> > of Act II), though indeed neither of those ladies is reluctant in the
> > slightest degree!
>   Oh? Elvira is led away by Leperetto and then Giovanni tries to
> seduce Elvira's maid and is interrupted. And it's Elvira's arrival in
> Act I that thwarts Giovanni's seduction of Zerlina.
> >>
> >> Further, 'liberty' and 'libertine' may be cognates but only in
> >> English. In German it would have been 'Freiheit' and (I think)
> >> 'Wüstling' ["Wüstling" is only one of the three possible
> >> equivalents.  The other two, per Cassel, are "römische
> >> Freigelassener" and "Freidenker"] so I don't see how that works.
> >
> >
> > Have you only heard it in German translation?
> > The language of Don Giovanni is Italian.
> >
>   I'm not convinced that Mozart really spoke or understood Italian.
> The libretto would have been handed to him translated. In the same way
> that Stravinsky's 'Oedipus Rex' is sung in Latin but Stravinsky didn't
> understand Latin (but neither did the librettist; it was translated by
> a Jesuit priest who was friendly with Cocteau).
> Colin
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