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Understanding the Women of Mozart's Operas$
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Kristi Brown-Montesano

Print publication date: 2007

Print ISBN-13: 9780520248021

Published to California Scholarship Online: May 2012

DOI: 10.1525/california/9780520248021.001.0001

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Survival Class

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Chapter:
(p.259) CHAPTER 10 Survival Class
Source:
Understanding the Women of Mozart's Operas
Author(s):

Kristi Brown-Montesano

Publisher:
University of California Press
DOI:10.1525/california/9780520248021.003.0010

In many ways, Despina is the typical maidservant of buffa convention: shrewd, flippant, sensual, and opportunistic. In the context of Mozart's operas, however, she stands apart from her much-admired predecessors Susanna and Blonde. In the absence of genuine female friendship and esteem, Despina's cleverness is easily yoked to a man with money in his pocket. However, her self-professed weakness for gold blinds her to Don Alfonso's ulterior motives, leading her and the sisters into his net of humiliation. At the end of the opera, Despina expresses embarrassment at having been fooled by the men; but, in the same breath, she promises to even the score by bamboozling many herself.

Keywords:   opera buffa, Mozart's operas, Don Alfonso, Despina

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