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Operatic GeographiesThe Place of Opera and the Opera House$
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Suzanne Aspden

Print publication date: 2019

Print ISBN-13: 9780226595962

Published to Chicago Scholarship Online: September 2019

DOI: 10.7208/chicago/9780226596150.001.0001

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PRINTED FROM CHICAGO SCHOLARSHIP ONLINE (www.chicago.universitypressscholarship.com). (c) Copyright University of Chicago Press, 2021. All Rights Reserved. An individual user may print out a PDF of a single chapter of a monograph in CHSO for personal use.date: 17 September 2021

Cockney Masquerades: Tom and Jerry and Don Giovanni in 1820s London

Cockney Masquerades: Tom and Jerry and Don Giovanni in 1820s London

(p.74) Six Cockney Masquerades: Tom and Jerry and Don Giovanni in 1820s London
Operatic Geographies

Jonathan Hicks

University of Chicago Press

The early London reception of Mozart’s Don Giovanni (which received its British premiere in 1817) coincided with the brief but phenomenal success of Tom and Jerry (the protagonists of Pierce Egan’s Life in London, first serialised in 1820). By examining both Egan’s urban picaresque and a stage adaptation by William Thomas Moncrieff (who had previously burlesqued Don Giovanni) this chapter reveals the ways in which supposedly realistic representations of contemporary London drew on the character, habits, and music of Mozart’s antihero. In particular, it emphasises a shared obsession with youthful masculine vigour and with getting around town in search of fashion and fun. The journeys of Tom and Jerry and Don Giovanni were integral, it is argued, to their identities and, for a time, all three were fellow theatrical travellers. Yet, even before the end of the 1820s, the canonisation of Mozart’s opera was beginning to extract Giovanni from the Cockney context of Egan’s creation. Their brief conjunction provides an opportunity to understand better how the operatic geographies of 1820s London stand as monuments to an impossible city, one in which the pursuit of pleasure knew few bounds and the last word in realism was a masquerade ball.

Keywords:   Mozart, burlesque, cockney culture, urban mobility, 1820s London, William Thomas Moncrieff, Life in London, Pierce Egan, Don Giovanni, Tom and Jerry

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