Date of Award
After the premiere of Don Giovanni in Prague, Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart and Lorenzo Da Ponte brought their opera to Vienna on May 7, 1788. One point of interest in the Viennese version of the score is the added duet “Per queste tue manine.” In this duet, the enraged Zerlina overpowers the bewildered servant Leporello with a handkerchief, a razor, and passion. She constrains the floundering fool and punishes him for his misconduct. In most modern performances, companies look no further than the Prague version of the score. Additionally, singers often portray Zerlina as either a mischievous temptress or a virginal peasant girl. Since modern opera companies often dismiss the Viennese score of Don Giovanni as insignificant and scholars often deem the role of Zerlina as simplistic, a holistic analysis of the role of Zerlina is needed. Viewing the interpretations of her character by Kristi Brown-Montesano and Wye Jamison Allanbrook through the lens of eighteenth-century gender politics and my own musical and literary interpretations results in a more complete understanding of the peasant girl. Through an analysis of the Viennese version of Zerlina’s character, I contend that Zerlina functions as a mirror-image foil to Don Giovanni. As Zerlina gains autonomy through the control of her own body, the Don loses his power over others and eventually his own life. This multi-dimensional understanding of Zerlina’s character is only possible if “Per queste tue manine” is taken into consideration.
Miller, Sarah, "Reflections of the Don: Zerlina's Empowerment Narrative and the Inclusion of "Per queste tue manine" in Don Giovanni" (2018). Graduate Thesis Collection. 506.