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January 2021

MOZART - For equality between men and women
#Themtoo

Cecilia Bartoli would have said that Mozart, like no other, has understood all the roles corresponding to all possible female characters[1]. As we wrote in our previous letter[2], Mozart was a proponent of gender equality.
For this letter, we used Florence Badol-Bertrand[3]'s presentation on the evolution of women's portraits in Mozart's operas, as a foretaste of the musical symposium[4] she will speak at the 2022 Festival.

 

[1] Reported by Ph. Sollers - Mystérieux Mozart

[2] See our previous letter: 1791 - The Magic Flute Masonic opera - myth or reality?

[3] Doctor in musicology Florence Badol-Bertrand teaches music history at the CNSMDP and at Sciences-po-Paris. She collaborates permanently with the interpreters: Accentus, Insula Orchestra, Orchestre de Lyon, Concert de la Loge, Emmanuelle Bertrand...

[4] Mozart and modernity.

*

Ariana, Peneloppe, Dido, Armida, Medea...
Since its origins, Opera has been staging abandoned or betrayed women leading to one of the most eagerly awaited musical genres: the Lamenti - an imposed passage in every baroque opera. To name just a few examples: Ariana's Lamento (Ariana abandoned by Thesea on Naxos) by Monteverdi[5] or Dido « When I am laid in Earth » (Dido abandoned by Aeneas at Carthage) by Purcell…

 

[5] Arianna's Lamento was undoubtedly Monteverdi's most famous piece during his lifetime: the composer considered it the only piece worthy of leaving to posterity,

During Enlightenment, it was opera buffa that hosted this musical expression, creating a unifying social equality between women of the people, servants abused and noble women condemned to disguise themselves in order to survive.

Early in his career, Mozart inherited this topic that he initially used as well as his contemporaries. For example: Comtesse Violante beaten by the jealous Comte Belfiore who leaves her for dead disguises herself as a gardener . in order to win her lover back and can only mourn the poor fate of women: "Noi Donne poverine" (La finta Giardiniera). Mozart was 19 years old and he has not really fallen in love yet.

Over time, his female characters are stronger, strong-willed and independent, able to assume breaking-up, to enjoy freedom and to celebrate love. If Barberina, the youngest, in Le Nozze di Figaro still complains of being betrayed; if Marcellina, the oldest, recognizes men’s dominance over women as a custom[6]

 

[6] « ... The most ferocious beasts ... leave their companions in peace and freedom, only we poor women, who love these men so much, are always treated cruelly by these treacherous men”. (See Aria: "Il capro et la capretta").

… Suzanna and the Countess are able to organize a “velvet rebellion” and gain the respect without taking anything away from their feminity[7]

 

[7] See : Suzanna’s aria « Deh vieni, non tardar ».

Also betrayed Donna Elvira, the official wife of Don Giovanni, torned between vengeful anger and pity, finaly will choose to renounce[8].

 

[8] See : Donna Elvira’s aria « Mi tradi quell’alma ingrata ».

Dorabella and Fiordiligi, both deceived sisters in Cosi fan tutte can choose their lovers[9]. And in The Magic Flute, Pamina who went through the hardest trials of her life is able to show the way to her companion. 

 

[9] See : Dorabella & Fiordiligi duet « Prendero quel brunetto »

Mozart's empathy with women is total which is not common at his time. But his labour proved him that virtuosos are women as well as men. Singers and pianists are equal before the score and they are born equal.

His female characters affirm their feminity and independence. Attentive, altruistic and generous, they pave the way with a sublime musical expression to Beethoven for Leonore/Fidelio and Gounod for Margareth (Faust): the “Eternal Feminine” (Goethe / Das Ewig-Weibliche). Women command their own destinies. Thanks to Mozart, #me too is in motion.

*

September 1791 is the year of the creation of the Magic Flute.

As Florence Badol-Bertrand[10] reminds us, it was also in September 1791 that Olympe de Gouges drew up and distributed a Declaration of the Rights of Women and of the Citizen which included all the articles of the Declaration of Human Rights, by adding a woman, or citizen, when necessary, or by modifying the original text a little.
 
Thus, in her preamble addressed to Queen Marie-Antoinette, she sets the tone: “(...) considering that ignorance, forgetting or contempt for women's rights are the only causes of public misfortune and the corruption of governments (...) [the people] resolve to set out in a solemn declaration the natural, inalienable and sacred rights of women, so that this declaration constantly present to all members of the social body, constantly reminds them of their rights and their duties ".
 
Article X states, “No one should be worried about his or her opinions, even fundamental ones. The woman has the right to go up on the scaffold, she must also have the right to go up to the platform”. Article XIII: "For the maintenance of the public force and for administrative expenses, the contributions of the two sexes are equal. [The woman] takes part in all the chores, in all the painful tasks; it must therefore have the same share in the distribution of places, jobs, offices, dignities and industry”[11].

 

[10] See : Mozart ou la Vie - Seguier Archimbaud - Juin 2006

[11] On November 3, 1793 : Olympe de Gouges was guillotined by order of the Revolutionary Court. (Article taken from the Bulletin de la Société archéologique de Touraine published in 2009).

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