モーツァルトのドン・ジョヴァンニ 単行本 – 2003/9
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モーツァルトのドン・ジョバンニ 天才は悩んでいた。色男の気持ちが分からないのだ。色事師カサノヴァ、性を究めるサド公爵らに導かれ、”愛”と格闘し続けたモーツァルトの息詰まる数日間。オペラ完成の暁にもたらされたのは、喝采の嵐か、それとも―？ まさに人生こそオペラそのもの、絢爛で華麗なる人間たちの物語！
Now Anthony Rudel has another talent to add to his list--novelist. If this is a debut, it was outstanding. Extraordinary work, Mr. Rudel! Keep them coming! (How about a Beethoven bio now???)
The author tells us that Don Giovanni was inspired by none other than Casanova, himself, who set up a meeting with Mozart in a Prague coffeehouse in an attempt to "sell" the great composer on the idea of basing an opera around the figure of Don Juan. That part is factual...I think. That and the characters, dates and delays in staging the opera. The rest of this marvelous book centers around imagined happenings, all contrived to urge Mozart to produce and bring Don Giovanni to fruition.
There are three main characters in this book: Mozart, of course, Casanova, and Lorenzo da Ponte, Mozart's long suffering librettist. All three main characters are wonderfully drawn, but just as wonderfully drawn are the "minor" characters, who really aren't so minor at all.
One of the best of these "minor" characters is Mozart's wife, Constanze, or "Stanzi," as Mozart called her. Stanzi had a few secrets of her own to prod Mozart to work and she often had use them.
Josefa Dusek, the singer, and her husband make appearances in the novel when they host the elaborate parties Mozart loved to attend. The party the night before the opera's premier is especially memorable. Opera lovers will recognize the garden scene in Act Four of The Marriage of Figaro, but this only adds to the whimsy of the book rather than detracting from it. This party night is a night of high tension as well as fun, for Mozart has yet to finish the opera's Overture and more than one character is more than a little anxious.
Even the Marquis de Sade manages to make an appearance, of sorts, in this book. Locked away in Paris, he answers a letter from Casanova and gives his own advice on living a life totally without limits. You can imagine what that advice might consist of. If anything in this book can be construed as being "over the top," it is this, but then Mozart was a genius who was, much of the time, "over the top," himself. I think it is completely within the character of the book to include de Sade and I enjoyed it.
Although Mozart does take center stage in this novel, as he should, he gets stiff competition from Casanova. In his sixties at the time, Casanova may have slowed down a bit, but he is still quite thoroughly a rake. Beautiful women seem to abound in Prague and Casanova seems to make it his quest to know them all, or most of them at least, and to let others know the details of his conquests.
I'm an eastern European and I've spent many happy days and nights in Prague. I loved Rudel's detail of Prague city life as well as his detail of the premier, itself. The details are, in large part, what make this book so charming.
The best thing about this book, however, is the wonderful and loving portrait it paints of Mozart, himself. Rudel has managed to capture Mozart in all his genius and all his whimsy. We see him as he no doubt was...an extraordinary composer, the likes of which the world will never see again, and a man who took tremendous joy in the simple pleasure of life.
This is a gorgeous and fun book, but I don't think it's right for everyone, or even the majority of readers. I do think one has to be a fan of Mozart or of opera to obtain the maximum enjoyment from "Imagining Don Giovanni." If you're an opera fan, like I am, I would certainly recommend this book. While it might not stay with you forever, it will certainly entertain you for a few hours and make your life more pleasant. And, it just might leave you wanting more of Mozart.