don giovanni and the viardot circle
Pauline Viardot-Garcia purchased of the autograph of Don Giovanni in London in 1855 whereupon it was associated with a number of ritualistic discourses comparable with very few such documents before or since. Its treatment rendered it as sacred as the treatment of the “Twelfth Mass” made the latter secular. Viardot preserved the document in an artifact that was as close in construction to a reliquary that its nature would allow, and treated it as a shrine. Visitors to her homes in Paris and Baden-Baden behaved exactly as if they were in the presence of a relic: Rossini genuflected and Tchaikovsky claimed to have been in the presence of divinity. When the manuscript was donated to the library of the Conservatoire in 1892 its sacred and national characteristics were elided. By this time, the autograph of Don Giovanni had contributed substantially to the ongoing nineteenth-century project of enshrining Mozart.
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