Madamina Pisaroni (The Catalogue Aria) – Mozart

As promised, I return from the opera gala with something to amuse you.  This aria was sung by a very handsome young baritone with a beautiful voice, a gleam in his eye, and a copy of Vanity Fair, to which he referred at salient moments, to illustrate the ladies in question.  This particular recording, by Erwin Schrott, is much in the same spirit, and leads one to believe that the singer is in fact detailing (and revelling in) his own conquests, not those of his master.  In my mind, it immediately became ‘the notches on the bedpost aria’, because I’m vulgar like that.   See what you think…

I have one, very shallow, reason for liking this aria.  OK, two very shallow reasons, because that baritone is really exceptionally hot, but the other shallow reason is that my Italian is pretty basic, but numbers and countries I can do, so the entire first part of the aria is entirely intelligible to me.  This fills me with joy.

(But here’s a translation, in case you’d like to know what the rest of the aria is like.  All class, Mozart was…)

I’ve never seen any of Don Giovanni before, and this has been, for the most part, a deliberate decision. I’m afraid I’m not a huge fan of Mozart, having been traumatised by one too many piano sonatas as a child.  I find his piano music is very clockworkish, though his vocal music has been growing on me (mostly because he teams up with some fairly entertaining lyricists, but also partly because I do like bouncy coloratura, and you can generally rely on Mozart for that).  And then the plot Don Giovanni itself does not strike me as terribly pleasing – I realise that if you are listening to opera in the first place, you have to just assume a certain level of dodgy gender politics, but Don Giovanni annoys me.

Having said that, I have to admit that this is a fun aria, and surprisingly sexy, despite it’s terribly dubious content.   You can see a staged version here, with a bit more context (which does, admittedly, make it less funny and more disturbing, but that’s Don Giovanni for you).

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4 thoughts on “Madamina Pisaroni (The Catalogue Aria) – Mozart

  1. Elettaria says:

    Hilarious, hot and generally fabulous, although he keeps straying off the beat.

    This is the joy of Mozart: he is so much damned fun. Try grabbing yourself a bass or baritone and playing with some of his duets. I’ve always ended up singing with gay men, for some reason, and it fits perfectly, because Mozart is just begging to be camped up even further.

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    • Catherine says:

      I hadn’t noticed the beat straying (being too distracted by the general cheekiness of the performance). It is fun, though, isn’t it?

      (no luck on the bass baritone front, but you never know)

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      • Elettaria says:

        I’ve just watched the staged version, which was in many ways fantastic. (Though ergh, what is it with singers who stray off the beat? I know the aria fairly well, and I was reared as a percussionist, so it’s painfully obvious to me.) The photographs were a brilliant touch and are wanting to make me start wittering on about the Male Gaze and so forth. It can’t have been a terribly comfortable performance to watch, though, since they are clearly looking at the opera as an exploration of rape culture – and quite right too. Also the set is depressingly reminiscent of all those productions of Macbeth where some cleverclogs said, “Ooh, look! The language is all about darkness! Let’s stage it in the dark!!”

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      • Catherine says:

        The darkness thing is very irritating. I tend to notice the behind-the-beat thing less than you because I’m not a percussionist (and basses are so often behind the beat).

        The photos are disturbing. Actually, the whole thing is disturbing – the fact that he’s clearly been an audience to all these seductions and gets of a kick out it is pretty creepy and sleazy. And when he takes the photo at the end – ouch.

        Rape culture indeed.

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