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Don Juan; A Grand Opera in Two Acts: Represented for the First Time in London, at The King's Theatre, in the Haymarket, April, 1817. The Music Entirely by Mozart.
London: Printed by W. Winchester and Son, in the Strand; and sold at the Opera-House, And nowhere else. (Price two shillings, and no more.) [1817] - FIRST PERFORMANCE OF DON JUAN IN LONDON [ii], viii [ix - x characters], 105 [106 colophon]pp, 8vo. With Italian on verso of each leaf and English on facing recto. Later 19th century attractive straight-grained red morocco, gilt spine, aeg. Title-page mounted, small blank corner of second leaf, but a very good copy. £1,100 This is the second edition of Don Giovanni in English, which coincides with the first performance on stage in England, 1817. Although there was a concert performance in the Hanover Square rooms in 1809. The music is not present. As a fully-staged opera, Don Giovanni was brought to London by the musical impresario William Ayrton (1777-1858), who signs the most interesting preface to this edition. In 1817 Ayrton was manager of Italian opera at the Haymarket (King’s) Theatre, and for this season he brought over new Italian singers including Madame Camporese and Signor Crivelli. The debut of this famously belated performance was missed by Leigh Hunt who was at the time editor and opera critic for the Examiner. Marooned in Buckinghamshire he sent a letter to Vincent Novello the musician who had tickets for the opening night. I “envy you the power of seeing Don Giovanni” he wrote wistfully. Hunt was envious for good reason. This production permanently changed the nature of opera and opera-going London. The audience for the 1817 Don Giovanni extended far beyond the usual opera aristocracy. The box subscribers soon chose to scorn Mozart. For a few crazed months of 1817 the King’s Theatre presented a spectacle of class chaos and intermingling rarely seen in the Regency. The sheer size of audience demand for Mozart was so great that, temporarily, democracy was forced upon the proprietors of the King’s Theatre: “So great has been the overflow from the Pit [it] has been found necessary to throw open such of the Upper Boxes as remain unlet to accommodate those who are unable to get seats below.” It ran for a record twenty-three nights. “There never was exhibited to the musical world a more consummate feast than Don Giovanni,” concluded the Times 12 January 1818. For two famous literary figures it was a conversion experience. Charles Lamb wrote to Ayrton “I am in your debt for a very delightful evening and I am almost inclined to allow Music to be one of the Liberal Arts: which before I had doubted.” Lamb requested three more gallery tickets for the next week’s performances. Thomas Love Peacock persuaded Shelley to accompany him. Peacock states: “Before it commenced he asked me if the opera was comic or tragic. I said it was composite, more comedy than tragedy.” After the killing of the Commendatore, Shelley said “Do you call this comedy?” However Shelley became absorbed in the music of Mozart. (Studies in Romanticism, 2005, Cockney Mozart, Gillen D’Arcy Wood.) OCLC and Copac records the following copies: British Library, Bodeian, London University, V&A and National Library of Scotland; and in the USA at Harvard, Yale, Binghamton, Chicago, Texas and NYPL (Performing Arts). [Attributes: Hard Cover]
      [Bookseller: C R Johnson Rare Book Collections (PBFA)]
Last Found On: 2014-05-04           Check availability:      AbeBooks    

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