Madamina, il catalogo è questo
It is sung in scene 5 of the first act of the opera by Leporello, Don Giovanni's servant, to Elvira. It consists of a description and count of his master's lovers and is sung (for the most part) to a light-hearted tune. It is one of Mozart's most famous and popular arias.
Madamina, il catalogo è questo
My dear lady, this is a list
Structure and previous versions
The aria's two halves reverse the usual order of cavatina followed by cabaletta: in the first, a quick Allegro in 4/4, Leporello has a patter summarizing the number and occupations of Don Giovanni's lovers, while in the second, an Andante con moto in 3/4 (with a melody similar to that of the Larghetto of Mozart's earlier Quintet for Piano and Winds), he describes his approaches and preferences, while Donna Elvira presumably listens in horror.
A corresponding scene in which Don Giovanni's servant expounds the catalogue of his master's lovers was already present in several versions of Don Juan's story, in opera, theatre and Commedia dell'arte: probably the initiator was a version of Il convitato di pietra (The Stone Guest) attributed to Andrea Cicognini. The most immediate forerunner (premiering in 1787, a few months before Mozart's Don Giovanni) was the opera Don Giovanni, o sia Il convitato di pietra composed by Giuseppe Gazzaniga to a libretto by Giovanni Bertati. In Gazzaniga's opera, the aria in which Don Giovanni's servant, Pasquariello, describes his master's catalogue of lovers to Donna Elvira begins:
Dell'Italia, ed Alemagna
From Italy and Germany
Kierkegaard discusses the aria in the section "The Immediate Stages of the Erotic, or Musical Erotic" of his Either/Or. He conjectures that the number 1003, the number of Spanish women seduced by Don Giovanni, might be a last remnant of the original legend about Don Giovanni (or Don Juan); moreover, the number 1003 being odd and somewhat arbitrary suggests in Kierkegaard's opinion that the list is not complete and Don Giovanni is still expanding it. The comic sides of this aria have dramatic and ominous undertones. Kierkegaard finds in this aria the true epic significance of the opera: condensing in large groups countless women, it conveys the universality of Don Giovanni as a symbol of sensuality and yearning for the feminine.
Some commenters have found that several devices in the text and the music manage to convey a universal meaning, something beyond a simple, humorous list of women: for instance, Luigi Dallapiccola remarks that the line "Cento in Francia, in Turchia novantuna", breaks the rhythm of octosyllables and so illuminates the whole aria. According to Massimo Mila, "this Commedia dell'arte gag (which used to be accompanied by the gesture of unrolling the catalogue's scroll towards the audience) had incalculable consequences in determining the romantic interpretation of Don Giovanni's character". Romanticism interpreted the obsession expressed in the catalogue as a longing for the absolute.
The aria is the basis of Michael Nyman's In Re Don Giovanni (1977), his first work for the Michael Nyman Band. It is built upon, and then varying, the first fifteen bars. This work, in turn, became a duet between Wolfgang and Leopold Mozart in Nyman's opera Letters, Riddles and Writs titled "Profit and Loss."
- Samuel Ramey – Mozart "The da Ponte operas". Riccardo Muti – EMI 2002, conductor: Riccardo Muti
- Gregory Yurisich – Mozart Don Giovanni, EMI – Virgin Classics, 2003, conductor: Roger Norrington
- Huub Claessens – Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart "Complete Works", Brilliant Classics, 2005, conductor: Sigiswald Kuijken
- Stefano de Peppo – "Great Operas – Great Voices" – Membran Music Ltd/Pan Dream S.R.L., conductor: Michael Halász
- Ildebrando D'Arcangelo – The Complete Operas Salzburger Festspiele, Unitel Classica (DECCA), 2006, Don Giovanni, conductor: Daniel Harding
- Ferruccio Furlanetto – Mozart – Don Giovanni, Sony BMG Music International, 2008, conductor: Herbert von Karajan
- Don Giovanni, Da Ponte libretto at Naxos
- The NMA p. 78 has restored Mozart's spelling "Lamagna".
- Mila, Massimo (1988). Lettura del Don Giovanni di Mozart. Torino: Einaudi. ISBN 88-06-59999-2. (Italian), which is a detailed, scene by scene, analysis of the opera: the catalogue aria is analysed in pages 93–102.
- Macchia, Giovanni (19952). Vita avventure e morte di Don Giovanni. Milan: Adelphi. ISBN 88-459-0826-7. (Italian), which also quotes other versions of the catalogue, in opera and in Commedia dell'arte.
- Libretto of Giuseppe Gazzaniga's Don Giovanni, o sia Il convitato di pietra
- Madamina, il catalogo è questo: Score in the Neue Mozart-Ausgabe
- English translation of "Madamina, il catalogo è questo" published on the New York City Opera Project at Columbia University