Mozart's collaborations with the librettist Lorenzo da Ponte led to the composition of three of the greatest masterpieces in all opera, Le Nozze di Figaro, Don Giovanni, and Così fan tutte. The aim of this book is to guide the reader to deeper understanding and enjoyment of these enigmatic works, not so much through detailed musical analysis as through setting the scene for their composition. The author examines the cultural and social
context in which they were written, the sort of audience who might have attended, and their tastes and expectations. He considers Mozart's own intentions and aspirations for these works, composed over a period of rapid intellectual
and political change, during which his beliefs, ambitions, and position in society changed radically. At a musical level, Mozart's work underwent crucial stylistic developments that are manifest in these three operas. We are also given clues to da Ponte's view of opera and the type of entertainment he set out to create. Finally, the author looks at the practicalities of opera production in Mozart's time, all of which would have influenced the final creation of these works.
`the most important book about Mozart to appear in many years...It should become a classic.'
H. C. Robbins Landon, Musical Times
`the most illuminating exploration of the territory to appear in English since Edward Dent's historic study of 1913 ' Peter Heyworth, Observer
`His is a rich and learned book, drawing upon a wide range of recent Mozart scholarship...Steptoe provides fascinating information about theatres, singers and audiences...Steptoe's book is to be praised for according due attention and respect to Mozart's skilled librettist.' William Stafford, Times Higher Education Supplement
`here is an engrossing progress report which garners much of the recent research...abounding in provocative ideas' Charles Morgenstern, Oxford Times
`interesting recent study'
David Cairns, Sunday Times
`What is particularly pleasing about Steptoe's narrative is the attention he gives to the minutiae of everyday life. In his commonsensical grasp of the perspectives of Da Ponte's plot and Mozart's treatment of it, Steptoe gives us as good a context as any...to re-approach the opera with a clear mind.'
Richard Osborne, Times Literary Supplement
`immensely thoughtful and thorough book...Steptoe writes with a calm and scholarly enthusiasm, and the range of his researches is impressive. Much of the strength of Steptoe's work...rests on his ability to assemble statistics and then to analyse them in a level-headed and clear manner... it is a welcome addition to the shelves of any passionate Mozartian.'
Jane Glover, Opera
`may well prove to be the most important reconsideration of Mozart's operas since Dent...The six-page bibliography barely does justice to Steptoe's wide reading...but it conveys his impressive knowledge of recent scholarly literature in various languages, as well as of primary material...this is a book by a sensitive listener who works everything out for himself and thus adds many fresh perceptions to those shared with previous critics.'
Julian Rushton, Music & Letters
`Andrew Steptoe has written a valuable and attractively presented study of The Mozart-Da Ponte Operas. Though there is no lack of perceptive and nicely illustrated analysis of the music, for many readers the depiction of the historical, social and cultural context will be quite as valuable...For the connoisseur, the heart of the book is the intricate detail, embedded in sound, lively and more general argument, about the three great operas...This is
a fine book.'
`Steptoe's monograph furnishes a framework for understanding these operas and as such is one fo the most significant treatises in opera criticism to appear in recent years...Steptoe's clarification of the enigmatic interplay and the consequent cross-fertilization between composer and librettist is indeed a major advance in our knowledge and appreciation of Mozart's remarkable achievement.'
Notes, June 1991
`He writes well, and the opening chapters on cultural context provide interesting and perinent material.'
The Eighteenth Century
The social context: Vienna and her ruler; Musicians, opera, and audience in Mozart's time; Mozart and Vienna; Mozart and his personal circle; Da Ponte and the Buffa plot; Cosi fan tutte and contemporary morality; Mozart and Opera Buffa; Drama and musical form in Le nozze di Figaro; Don Giovanni: musical form and dramatic cohesion; Cosi fan tutte; Epilogue; Appendix: casts of characters, plot synopses, and
musical outlines for the three operas
Series: Clarendon Paperbacks
Number Of Pages: 300
Published: 13th September 1990
Country of Publication: GB
Dimensions (cm): 22.91 x 15.09
Weight (kg): 0.53