Home Theaters Saint Petersburg Mariinsky Theater 8 February 2019, 19:30 - Jules Massenet "Don Quichotte" (opera in five acts)
8February
19:30
2019 | Friday
Opera
Mariinsky Theater, Saint Petersburg
Duration: 2 hours 30 minutes
World premiere: Mariinsky Theatre, St Petersburg, Russia, 28 December 2012

World premiere: February 19, 1910, Opera Monte-Carlo
Premiere at the Mariinsky Theater: April 4, 1919
Premiere of the production: December 28, 2012

The play comes with one intermission

The Knight of Rueful Countenance returns to the Mariinsky Theatre

The Knight of Rueful Countenance, the heroic dreamer Don Quichotte is returning to the Mariinsky The atre. Don Quichotte is one of French composer Jules Massenet’s late operas and it was commissioned by Raoul Gunsbourg, of the Opéra de Monte Carlo specially for Fyodor Chaliapin. And whatever the composer’s contemporaries may have thought of this opera, the singer himself always adored it and the role of Don Quichotte became one of the ones he loved most in his entire repertoire. The premiere of the opera took place on 6 February 1910 at the Opéra de Monte Carlo. Already on 12 November 1910, the Russian premiere took place at the Bolshoi The atre in Moscow, where Chaliapin not only performed the title role but directed the production as well. Later came Paris, Nürnberg, London and the USA. in 1919 the opera was staged at the Mariinsky The atre (Alexander Khessin conducting with Chaliapin as stage director).

Massenet’s Don Quichotte has never been absent for long from theatre playbills. As it was created for Fyodor Chaliapin, however, the opera requires equally brilliant performers and so it is only staged when a singer worthy of the role comes along. One such is, without question, is the outstanding Italian bass Ferruccio Furlanetto, who has already performed the role of Don Quichotte in St Petersburg in a concert version of the opera at the Concert Hall of the Mariinsky The atre. Don Quichotte with Ferruccio Furlanetto, the Mariinsky Chorus and Orchestra and soloists under the baton of Valery Gergiev was released on the Mariinsky label. The recording was named “Disc of the Week” by BBC Radio 3 and “Opera Choice of the Month” by BBC Music Magazine.

Furlanetto admits that the role of Don Quichotte is one of his favourites: “Don Quichotte is close to my heart. Everyone, albeit for three hours in their lives, should become such a person, someone who loves everything around them... He loves nature, the sun, the light, the air, people, animals... And this love is expressed very poetically, so I say that in an ideal world this is what, ideally, people should be like.”

The opera is being staged by director Yannis Kokkos, a renowned French theatre designer and stage director. Fame first came to Kokkos as a production designer, having worked together with stage director Antoine Vitez. As a stage director, Kokkos has worked on productions of operas by Wagner, Richard Strauss, Gluck, Berlioz, Mozart and Rossini at the Teatro alla Scala, the Théâtre de la Monnaie, the Théâtre du Capitole de Toulouse, the Théâtre du Châtelet and Welsh National Opera. Inspired by St Petersburg, the stage director sees features in Don Quichotte similar to those of Prince Myshkin.

The lead roles are being rehearsed by Anna Kiknadze, Yekaterina Sergeyeva and Elena Tsvetkova (the Beautiful Dulcinée), Ferruccio Furlanetto, Askar Abdrazakov, Ilya Bannik and Mikhail Kolelishvili (Don Quichotte), Andrei Serov and Andrei Spekhov (Sancho Pança), Lyudmila Dudinova, Eleonora Vindau and Maria Bayankina (Pedro), Yulia Matochkina, Irina Shishkova and Regina Rustamova (Garcia), Carlos D’Onofrio, Andrei Ilyushnikov and Nikolai Yemtsov (Rodriguez) and Dmitry Koleushko, Alexander Shagun and Alexander Trofimov (Juan). The Stage Director and Set Designer is Yannis Kokkos, the Costume Designers Yannis Kokkos and Paola Mariani and the Lighting Designer Michael Bauer.
The Musical Director and Conductor is Valery Gergiev.

The story of Don Quichotte was beautifully suited to Massenet's talents, strongest in creating exotic color, carefully blending pathos and comedy, and depicting charming sirens who can twist men around their dainty fingers. (This last was allowed in this opera by the transformation of Dulcinйe into a seductive courtesan instead of a farm girl whose charms exist solely in Quichotte's eyes.) It has long been a star vehicle for basses and bass-baritones, particularly singing actors such as Chaliapin (for whom the role was created), Christoff, Ghiaurov, Raimondi, and Ramey. (However, Massenet was largely unimpressed by Chaliapin's portrayal; in one famous episode, Chaliapin burst into sobs as he was reading through the death scene, greatly annoying the composer.) The other lead roles are almost as rewarding, even though they tend to be overshadowed; Sancho Panza gets to shine not only in his comic moments but in his passionate defense of his idealistic master's dreams, and Dulcinee's spirited "Spanish" songs are sure crowd-pleasers.

Though he lived for two more years after writing it, Massenet was already ill during its composition, and given his habit of becoming infatuated with his leading ladies (in this case, Lucy Arbell), it seems quite likely that he felt some identification with the lead role.

Even if he had no such feelings, certainly Massenet knew how to go for the audience's heartstrings, and he did so with a precision worthy of a surgeon, particularly in such moments as the death scene and Dulcinee's and Quichotte's final meeting. However, he also gave the character enough dignity that the role is still one of pathos rather than bathos, though an overindulgent performer can easily disrupt that balance. Similarly, while the Spanish flavor is synthetic, and not as memorable as that in Carmen, it is nonetheless infectious.

Don Quichotte (Don Quixote) is an opera in five acts by Jules Massenet to a French libretto by Henri Cain,

Massenet's comedie-heroique, like so many other dramatized versions of the story of Don Quixote, relates only indirectly to the great novel by Miguel de Cervantes. The immediate inspiration was Le chevalier de la longue figure, a play by the poet Jacques Le Lorrain first performed in Paris in 1904. In this version of the story, the heroine Dulcinee, who never actually appears in the original novel, is a flirtatious local beauty inspiring one of the infatuated old man's exploits.

Conceiving originally Don Quichotte to be a three-act opera, Massenet started to compose it in 1909 at a time when he, suffering from acute rheumatic pains, spent more of his time in bed than out of it, and composition of Don Quichotte became, in his words, a sort of "soothing balm." In order to concentrate on that new work, he interrupted composition of his other opera, Bacchus.

Don Quichotte was first performed in Monte Carlo on 19 February 1910. Massenet identified personally with his comic-heroic protagonist, as he was in love with Lucy Arbell who sang Dulcinee at the first performance in 1910. He was then 67 and died just two years later. The role of Don Quichotte was one of the Russian bass Feodor Chaliapin's most notable achievements.

Immediately after the world premiere at Monte Carlo, the opera was staged in Brussels, Marseille and Paris (all in 1910). Then, on 27 January 1912, it was presented at the French Opera House in New Orleans, 15 November 1913, in Philadelphia, and on 18 May 1912, the London Opera House performed it as well.

After World War I Don Quichotte received its premiere in Budapest in 1917, and the Opera-Comique in Paris presented it in 1924. The Metropolitan Opera in New York City performed it only 9 times in 1926, and never since, after devastating reviews of those performances in particular, and criticisms of Massenet's music in general, by Lawrence Gilman in the Herald Tribune.

Besides frequent and periodic revivals of it at Monte Carlo and in France, it was also shown with great success in Italy (Catania in 1928, Turin in 1933 (Teatro Regio), Bologna in 1952, Venice in 1982, Florence in 1992). The Polish premiere was at the Krakow Opera in 1962, and Baltic State Opera premiere was in 1969.

More recently, it was staged in Paris in 2000 (with Samuel Ramey in the title role) and in San Diego in 2009, starring Ferruccio Furlanetto and Denyce Graves

Synopsis

Feodor Chaliapin as Don Quichotte by Alexandre Jacovleff

Act 1
A square in front of Dulcinee's house

A festival is being celebrated. Four hopeful admirers of Dulcinee serenade her from the street. Dulcinee appears and explains philosophically that being adored is not enough, 'Quand la femme a vingt ans' ('When a woman is twenty'). She withdraws and a crowd, largely of beggars, acclaim the arrival of the eccentric knight and his comic squire, Don Quichotte riding on his horse Rossinante and Sancho Panza on a donkey. Delighted by their attention, Don Quichotte tells a reluctant Sancho to throw them money. After the crowd disperse, Don Quichotte himself serenades Dulcinee, 'Quand apparaissent les etoiles' ('When the stars begin to shine') but he is stopped by Juan, a jealous admirer of the local beauty. A sword fight follows, interrupted by Dulcinee herself. She is charmed by Don Quichotte's antique attentions, chides Juan for his jealousy and sends him away. The old man offers her his devotion and a castle. She suggests instead that he might retrieve a pearl necklace of hers stolen by Tenebrun, the bandit chief. He undertakes to do so, and Dulcinee quickly rejoins her men friends.

Act 2
In the countryside

A misty morning, Don Quichotte and Sancho enter with Rossinante and the donkey. Don Quichotte is composing a love poem. Sancho delivers a grand tirade against their expedition, against Dulcinee, and against women in general. 'Comment peut-on penser du bien de ces coquines' ('How can anyone think anything good of those hussies'). The mists disperse revealing a line of windmills that Don Quichotte takes for a group of giants. To Sancho's horror, Don Quichotte attacks the first one, only to be caught up in one of the sails and hoisted up in the air.

Act 3
In the mountains

Dusk, Don Quichotte believes they are getting close to the bandits. Sancho goes to sleep while Don Quichotte stands guard. The bandits suddenly appear and after a brief fight take the knight prisoner. Sancho escapes. Surprised by the defiance of the old man, the bandits give him a beating and intend to kill him, however Don Quichotte's prayer 'Seigneur, recois mon ame, elle n'est pas mechante' ('Lord receive my soul, it is not evil') moves Tenebrun, the bandit chief, to mercy. Don Quichotte explains his mission 'Je suis le chevalier errant' ('I am the Knight-errant'), and the necklace is returned to him. The bandits ask for the blessing of the noble knight before he leaves.

Act 4
The garden of Dulcinee's House

Music and dancing, a party is in progress, but Dulcinee is melancholy, 'Lorsque le temps d'amour a fui' ('When the time of love has gone'). Rousing herself, she snatches a guitar and sings 'Ne pensons qu'au plaisir d'aimer' ('Think just of the pleasures of love'). All retire to dinner. Sancho and Don Quichotte arrive. While waiting for Dulcinee, Sancho asks for his reward to which Don Quichotte responds with vague promises of an island, a castle, riches. Dulcinee and her party greet the knight and he returns the necklace to universal acclaim. However when he asks her to marry him he is greeted with hysterical laughter. Taking pity, Dulcinee tells the others to leave, apologizes 'Oui, je souffre votre tristesse, et j'ai vraiment chagrin a vous desemparer' ('I share your sorrow and am truly sorry') but explains that her destiny, her way of life, is different from his. She kisses him on the forehead and leaves. But the company return to make fun of the old man. Sancho vigorously upbraids them, 'Riez, allez, riez du pauvre ideologue' ('Laugh, laugh at this poor idealist') and takes his master away.

Act 5
A mountain pass in an ancient forest

A clear starry night, Don Quichotte is dying. He remembers once promising Sancho an island as his reward, and offers him an isle of dreams, 'Prends cette ile' ('Take that isle'). Nearing death, Don Quichotte looks up at a star shining brightly above and hears the voice of Dulcinee calling him to another world.

Casts & Credits

Composer: Jules Massenet
Choreography: Marius Petipa
Choreography: Marco Berriel
Conductor: Christian Knapp
Mezzo soprano: Yulia Matochkina
Conductor: Christian Knapp
Costume Designer: Paola Mariani
Costume Designer: Yannis Kokkos
Director: Yannis Kokkos
Lighting Designer: Michael Bauer
Musical Director: Maestro Valery Gergiev
Musical Preparation: Larisa Gergieva
Principal Chorus Master: Pavel Petrenko
Principal Chorus Master: Pavel Teplov
Set Designer: Yannis Kokkos

Jules Massenet "Don Quichotte" (opera in five acts) at Mariinsky Theater on other dates

13
April
Saturday
Composer: Jules Massenet
Choreography: Marius Petipa
Choreography: Marco Berriel
Conductor: Christian Knapp
Mezzo soprano: Yulia Matochkina
Conductor: Christian Knapp
Costume Designer: Paola Mariani
Costume Designer: Yannis Kokkos
Director: Yannis Kokkos
Lighting Designer: Michael Bauer
Musical Director: Maestro Valery Gergiev
Musical Preparation: Larisa Gergieva
Principal Chorus Master: Pavel Petrenko
Principal Chorus Master: Pavel Teplov
Set Designer: Yannis Kokkos