This could be Don Giovanni’s missing aria! – covid restrictions result in opera teaser

Since the second wave of the pandemic resulted in restrictions again, the Müpa is live broadcasting concerts without an audience. There was a programme in their calendar though where they had to be even more inventive, as the original show itself could not happen anymore. Instead of the staged Don Giovanni opera, they offer a different – but still very similar – musical experience, and they even revive a genre which was popular in the 18th century but is almost forgotten today.

Pasticcio or pastiche is originally a musical piece (usually an opera) which consists of separate pieces, sometimes written by more composers. Handel’s Oreste is a pasticcio, for instance, because the cantatas and opera parts featuring in it had been played individually before. Or there is an Easter oratorio by composers Graun, Telemann and JS Bach called Wer ist der, so von Edom kömmt. And even Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart wrote early pieces that can be fit into the genre: researchers of music identified “ready-made” pieces of the era which the child prodigy used in his own piano concertos and enriched with orchestra part – so these were also new pieces created on the basis of older ones.

Of course, the pasticcio debuting in the Müpa is also based on Mozart’s life works. It is a series which is not the Don Giovanni itself, but it could even be. The concert will be true to the musical world and mood of the opera, and the audience won’t miss the theatrical parts: the setting, the scenes, the acting. We can also make a good use of our imagination, playing our own film or theatre in our mind, just as we like it.

This pasticcio is partly based on the general vibe of the opera and partly on musical solutions related to the characters. Don Giovanni is a very gloomy story, so the concert includes such pieces, such as a bass aria (Così dunque tradisci) and the first movement of the Piano concerto No. 20 in D minor.

The self-righteous figure of Don Giovanni also appears in the form of three pieces, which are the first movement of the Jupiter symphony and two arias that have an interesting history on their own. Un bacio di manio is a concerto aria for bass, which was written by Mozart but was premiered in an opera by another composer in 1788. Some contemporary researchers believe that Mozart had a deteriorating health in this year already, and his various addictions (gambling, alcohol) made him to be always in debt, so he had to do some work for others as well. And the other aria was cut from the final version of Così fan tutte, with Müpa’s description claiming:

“that could be Don Giovanni’s missing aria”.

Two more characters received such a musical relation: we can associate Donna Anna with a soprano aria (Tra l’oscure ombre funeste) and Leporello with the String Quintet No. 3 in C. The pasticcio opens with the original overture of Don Giovanni, and the closing piece is a cliffhanger in fact, because we can hear the finale of Act 1.

I think it would be great to see such teasers to operas also without a pandemic. Listening to other pieces to understand the “big” ones more, with an interruption at the most exciting part, might also send such people to see “the real one” who were scared away by the length and complexity of operas before. And who knows – maybe this extraordinary situation and the creative reaction given to that is indeed starting a new tradition in the Müpa now…