The Giacomo Variations

Have you heard about this one?

Sometimes I’m so surprised that here I am, a Casanova researcher, and in the last couple years of research, The Giacomo Variations never came across my screen! How did I miss an opera that’s been running in major houses around the world for almost three years? And starring John Malkovich no less!

But thanks to my network of friends out there, The Casanova Variations was finally brought to my attention. It’s an operatic play featuring an aging Casanova at Count Waldstein’s castle in Dux (historically accurate so far), who wonders what life is all about. He flirts and sings and grows younger as he remembers the loves of his life. The play is set to music by Mozart and Lorenzo da Ponte, one of Mozart’s librettists and a sometime friend to Casanova. The official website touts these two as close friends, but it was a more complex relationship than that. In Seductive Venice I went into some detail about this–that da Ponte valued Casanova’s advice and said he would have been better off if he had followed it. But Casanova, in later years, also sort of hounded da Ponte for money and made a bit of a nuisance of himself. It wasn’t all love, and it wasn’t all hate, and somehow they did manage to work together a bit on Don Giovanni, with the libretto written by da Ponte but showing some revisions in Casanova’s handwriting.

The official website for The Casanova Variations includes some reviews (mostly in German!). Go to the photo page to see Malkovich in costume and the fabulous sets where the actors are standing inside a dress!

But the New York show seems to have garnered some pretty negative comments, such as “sheer torture.”

Now, the opera is being made into a film. This blog features some interesting comments about that process and the actor Jonas Kaufman, who is also starring in it.

Have any of my readers out there seen The Casanova Variations? It doesn’t look like it’s coming to a town near me. But maybe I’ll get to see it. I once flew to Paris for the big exhibit of Casanova’s memoirs, so you never know!

About seductivevenice

Teacher, writer, traveler, dancer, reader, photographer, gardener.
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5 Responses to The Giacomo Variations

  1. Rudolf says:

    Nice: ‘But thanks to my network of friends out there’

  2. Nancy says:

    The NYT review is pretty funny actually. But who knows? I may actually go to the movie.

  3. Alex says:

    There are not many films with Venice and/or Casanova in these that are good. Somehow the directors think that if they choose Venice as a background and Casanova as the protagonist more than half of the work is done, a film is guaranteed the viewers’ attention and it’s already has a value.

    Of course that’s only my opinion, I’m sure these films have their fans.

    • No, I think you hit the mark. But have you seen Bob Hope as Casanova? That one’s certainly unique.

      • Alex says:

        No, but I’ve finished reading Tony Curtis’ autobiography recently and now when a film with him as a leading man comes my way I watch it. Couple days ago I’ve seen a half an hour of his “Casanova and company” – it’s definitely a film from the period when Bernie Schwarz was accepting any offers to play in a movie. Half an hour was enough.

        I’ll look up that film with Bob Hope, I’ve seen it’s ads somewhere no long ago.

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