Vaughan Williams’ “Silent Noon”: Serene, Pastoral Bliss

The music of Ralph Vaughan Williams returns frequently to the serene, pastoral majesty of “England’s green and pleasant land.” We hear these shimmering, sensuous allusions in Vaughan Williams’ 1903 song, Silent Noon. The song, which was later incorporated into the cycle, The House of Life, is a setting of a dreamy sonnet by Dante Gabriel Rossetti. The poem evokes a kind of blissful harmony with nature, experienced by two lovers on a summer day amid the “long …

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“Là Ci Darem La Mano” from “Don Giovanni”: Mozart’s Most Seductive Duet

Don Giovanni (or Don Juan) is one of literature’s most infamous seducers. In Mozart’s two act 1787 opera—a sublime blend of comedy, melodrama, and supernatural elements— the character takes on a new and intriguing complexity. As the cultural historian, James H. Johnson writes in his essay, Sincerity and Seduction in Don Giovanni, Mozart and the librettist, Lorenzo Da Ponte, “deliberately employ a tone of sincerity that keeps to the surface in conveying Giovanni’s …

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