Musicologist Richard Will will present a Richard Murphy Musicology Colloquium entitled “The Changing Myths of Don Giovanni.
In his talk, Prof. Will will discuss how Mozart’s opera Don Giovanni has long inspired myths about eros and masculinity. Over time, its performance history reveals a growing trend toward critique—an increasing effort on the part of performers and directors to highlight the violence and predatoriness of the libertine central character, alongside the suffering and resilience of his female victims. Drawing from more than a century’s worth of audio and video recordings of the opera, Richard Will illuminates changing ideas about desire and power, the consequences of which may surprise or even implicate audiences. Once a figure of demonic charisma, the Don Giovanni of many recent productions suffers from psychological or social pathologies with the potential to undermine whole communities. His charisma wanes, yet its ill effects enmesh the other characters, including his most determined foe, Donna Anna. Beyond showing a libertine punished, the opera is taken to indict family, social, and economic structures that make libertinism possible.
About the Colloquium
The Richard Murphy Musicology Colloquium was begun in 1992 by Professor Claudia Macdonald to foster an exchange of ideas on music between colleagues in both the Conservatory and the College. The series was expanded in 1997 to include outside speakers as well, and named in honor of Richard Murphy, who taught music history at Oberlin from 1946 to 1978, and was much revered and beloved by his students. He died in 1993.
Conservatory visitors are asked to enter the complex through either Bibbins Hall’s east entrance (off College Place, across from the Oberlin College Bookstore) or the Conservatory Lounge’s west entrance (off S. Professor St., adjacent to the Conservatory Pond). All other entrances will be closed to the public.