I discovered Massenet’s Don Quichotte in my early teens listening to the American bass Samuel Ramey sing both Quichotte and Sancho the entire fifth act of the opera. That was a revelatory experience which has followed me through my life, culminating in this production….a project that I have nourished and cherished for the past 20 years.
Premiered in 1910, only two years before Massenet’s death, Don Quichotte was his last opera. Surprisingly it was not based on the Cervantes homonymous romance, but rather after a play by the French poet, Jean Le Lorrain, titled “Le Chevalier de la Longue Figure”. Opening night in Monte Carlo, with legendary Russian bass Fyodor Chaliapin in the title role, was a tremendous success, followed by several other productions in Paris and throughout France.
Massenet truly poured his soul into this last work, and parallels between the plot and his own personal life can be traced throughout, ranging from Quichotte’s obsession with Dulcinee mirroring Massenet’s lifelong infatuation with the American soprano Sibyl Anderson, and the twilight of his own life with the steady decline of the knight as the opera evolves. Above all, Don Quichotte is an opera about love. The unparalleled love that Quichotte nourishes for Dulcinee, the limitless love that Sancho devotes to him and the malicious at first, but ultimately compassionate love that Dulcinee feels for the knight are the absolute pillars of the opera and permeate the plot from the very first to the very last moment.
I hope we are producing a show where one can laugh, cry, smile and ultimately fall in love with this extraordinary, yet little known masterpiece. And, I hope that it will follow you all back home, and throughout your lives as it has followed me these many years.
Enjoy the show!
–Igor Vieira, Director