Opera Scotland

Don Quichotte Don Quixote

Music

Jules Massenet (born Montaud, Loire, 12 May 1842; died Paris, 13 August 1912)

Text

Henri Cain

Source

Play Le Chevalier de la Longue Figure (1906) by Jacques Le Lorrain derived from novel Don Quixote (Part I 1606; Part II 1615) by Miguel de Cervantes (1547-1616).

 

Premières

First performance: Monte Carlo (Salle Garnier), 19 February 1910.

First UK performance: London (London Opera House), 18 May 1912.

First performance in Scotland: Edinburgh (King’s Theatre), 24 August 1962.

Scottish Opera première: N/A.

 

Background

This was the last of Massenet’s operas to be a success at its premiere, and it was composed to suit the particular talents of Fyodor Chaliapin and Lucy Arbell, the latter being a beautiful singer who was a particular favourite of the composer. While it does contain some lively music of Spanish character, it is noted mostly for its subtlety and restraint of approach.

 

Main Characters

Don Quichotte, a knight (bass)

Sancho Panza, his servant (baritone)

Dulcinée (mezzo-soprano)

Juan, an admirer of Dulcinée (tenor)

Rodriguez, another admirer (tenor)

Ténébrun, a bandit chief (spoken)

 

Plot Summary

A crowd has gathered in front of Dulcinée’s house to sing her praises, and four admirers are paying particular attention to her. Don Quichotte and Sancho arrive, giving money to the crowd of beggars that surround them, and being mocked by the suitors. At night, Quichotte serenades Dulcinée, but is accosted by Juan, one of her lovers, who challenges him to a duel. Dulcinée herself comes out to restore peace. She agrees to become Quichotte’s lover if he will recover a necklace that has been stolen from her. On his way to challenge the robbers he composes a poem in Dulcinée’s honour, and attacks some windmills that he mistakes for giants. The bandits capture him, but instead of killing him, they are so impressed by his knightly conduct that they give him the necklace and let him go. Dulcinée is surprised and delighted when her necklace is returned. Quichotte proposes marriage, prompting her to explain to him just what kind of girl she is. His journey now continues until his health fails. He has one final vision of Dulcinée before he dies.

The Cast

Don Quichotte
 a knight
Dulcinée
 
Fool
 
Garcias
 a burlesquer, and admirer of Dulcinée
Juan
 an admirer of Dulcinée
Pedro
 a burlesquer, and admirer of Dulcinée
Rodriguez
 an admirer of Dulcinée
Sancho Pança
 Quichotte's servant

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