Radio NZ Concert network, Sunday 3rd of December 2017
MASSENET: Don Quichotte
In this version of Cervantes' great
classic, the simple farm girl of the original novel becomes the more
sophisticated Dulcinée, a flirtatious local beauty inspiring the
infatuated old man Don Quichotte's deluded exploits. Jules Massenet
composed the title role for the legendary Russian bass Feodor Chaliapin.
Don Quichotte............. Ferruccio Furlanetto
Dulcinée....................... Clémentine Margaine
Sancho......................... Nicola Alaimo
Chorus & Orchestra of Chicago Lyric Opera/Andrew Davis
What Massenet accomplishes in 5 acts equals one act of Wagner (2 hours);
ACT 1 Public Square
The old knight of la Mancha meets his Dulcinea, but finds she has many suitors. He serenades her, and is involved in a duel on her account. She charges him to retrieve the necklace stolen from her by the bandit Ténébrun.
ACT 2 The countryside at dawn
Mounted on his steed Rosinante, he is composing a new serenade for his beloved. Sancho rails against women as deceivers. The morning mist dissipates to reveal windmills; Don Quichote attacks them as giants, and is caught up in one of the sails.
ACT 3 The sierra at sunset
The bandits overpower the Knight Errant and prepare him for death. His demeanour and his prayers impress Ténébrun, and he hands over the necklace; they ask for his blessing on them.
ACT 4 The house of Dulcinea
The hero proposes marriage to his idol; she declines with affection. The onlookers mock the Knight of the Mournful Countenance. Sancho rebukes them.
ACT 5 A forest under the stars
As he dies, he offers Sancho the retirement island he had promised him; it is an island of dreams. He glimpses Dulcinea in a planet, and he hears her voice, bidding him Adieu.
Composing this opera was a labour of love for Jules Massenet: he was racked with rheumatism and uraemia, and in love with the soprano singing Dulcinée (Lucy Arbell).
(At the time of writing I am suffering kidney stones, with blood in the urine, not urine in the blood [uraemia]. 3.12.2017).
I have the Decca box of 3 vinyl discs, with Ghiaurov, Bacquier, and Crespin.