Voglio e non vorrei

Year: 2019

Commissioned by the Adele and John Gray Endowment Fund

Instrumentation: 2 Clarinet, 2 Horns and 2 Bassoons

First performance by Bläsersextett der Musikhochschule Trossingen - 24.01.2020, Zunftsaal im Schmiedenhof, Basel (Switzerland)


In the spirit of historical Harmoniemusik, "Voglio e non vorrei" transcribes a part of the famous "Là ci darem la mano" duet to a woodwind ensemble. But unlike the historical tradition, here the attempt is to transcribe some of the expressive and psychological content rather than simply the melodies. The idea is to realize a musical structure that corresponds to Zerlina's irrational submission to Don Giovanni's seduction - a musical plot that is pulled in different directions and gradually exposes what lies beneath its initial evocative harmonies. In James Joyce's Ulysses, Bloom misremembers this oxymoronic line "Vorrei e non vorrei" (I would like to, and I wouldn't) from the duet: "Voglio e non vorrei. Wonder if she pronounces that right: voglio". But later on he notices his mistake: "voglio e non vorrei. No: vorrei e non". Bloom seems to confuse the line with Leporello's text about his own unfulfilled aspirations: "Voglio far il gentiluomo, E non voglio più servir" ("I want to play the gentleman, And I don't want to serve anymore"). The irony in Joyce's insertion of the quote adds another layer in the contrasting forces that set the piece in motion.