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Contessa perdono! Mozartian sexual betrayal and forgiveness

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The dramatic and musical climax of The Marriage of Figaro, perhaps Mozart's operatic masterpiece, is famously marked by the unexpected forgiveness of the Count by the Countess, whom the count has infamously refused to forgive earlier in the opera. This article will explore the musical and psychological ramifications of forgiveness and the refusal to forgive within couple relationships, not only in this opera but also in two other great Mozart operas, Don Giovanni and Così fan tutte, in which issues around forgiveness are also implicitly central. It will be argued that Mozart's very differing and contrasting realisations of this core human and couple dynamic through his unique dramatic, verbal, and musical talents may partially account for the reputation of these operas for depth and universality.
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Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: March 1, 2020

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  • Couple and Family Psychoanalysis aim is to promote the theory and practice of working with couple and family relationships from a psychoanalytic perspective. It seeks to provide a forum for disseminating current ideas and research and for developing clinical practice.
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