Don Quichotte

Jules Massenet (1842-1912)

The ageing and self-proclaimed knight-errant Don Quichotte and his long-suffering but fiercely devoted servant Sancho set out to have a chivalrous adventure. On his travels, he falls in love with the damsel Dulcinée, who sends him on a quest to retrieve her necklace from a band of thieves. After capture by bandits, a skirmish with windmills and a spurned marriage proposal, Don Quichotte contemplates his greatest adventure yet.

Though Jules Massenet had a few more operas left in him, Don Quichotte feels in many ways like his operatic farewell. The opera premiered 19 February 1910 in Monte Carlo it indeed proved to be his last great success – and two-and-a-half years later the composer died aged 70. He labelled it a comédie-héroïque, and as that unusual classification reflects how this opera is at once witty and sad, and above all deeply humane. Its view of Spain is hardly more authentic than that of Carmen; although drawn from Cervantes, it is transmitted via Jacques Le Lorrain’s play Le chevalier de la longue figure (1904), just as Carmen comes from Merimée. But one of the many enjoyable strands in the score is the pastiche-Spanish music, including the extraordinary evocation of windmills.

Starring Jette Parker Young Artist and Russian mezzo-soprano Aigul Akhmetshinato to perform the role of La belle Dulcinée. The award-winning and rising star recently performed in La forza del destino in Covent Garden and was described as "superbly alluring" by Bachtrack in what was called "the cast of the century". Aigul performs the role of Carmen in the Royal Opera House 26 June 2019.

Sung in French with English surtitles

“… one of Europe’s key international music events.”

- Wall Street Journal

 

 


The score also contains one of Massenet’s greatest self-generating melodies, heard in Don Quichotte’s Act 1 Serenade. The title role was written for the great Chaliapin, but it is very hard not to view the opera as autobiographical – making gentle fun of an elderly man with a fondness for feminine beauty. Massenet’s own feelings seem to have been poured into the work, which helps to explain the richly sentimental portrait of Cervantes’s semi-hero. Sancho Panza is also drawn in the tradition of comic opera, but it is the portrayal of Dulcinée that is perhaps most telling of all. A slightly cynical gold-digger, albeit it one with a heart, Dulcinée certainly represents the sort of femmes the composer was used to encountering in the cafés of Paris, but there was something more specifically autobiographical here too. The role was written for the young mezzo-soprano Lucy Arbell, who had been leading the infatuated Massenet (some 40 years older than she) in a bit of a dance. Arbell created several roles in late Massenet operas, and the part of Dulcinée, in particular, exemplifies the late-period entry of the mezzo-soprano voice into the composer’s creative consciousness.

Creative Team

Conductor
Timothy Myers

USA

Previously at WFO: Conductor (Margherita, 2017; Vanessa, 2016).

Previous Engagements: Conductor (The Pearl Fishers, Bizet, Santa Fe Opera; The Fix (World Premiere), Puckett/Simonson, Minnesota Opera; Silent Night, Puts/Campbell, Austin Opera).

Forthcoming Engagements: Conductor (Siegfried, Act III in concert, Wagner, North Carolina Opera; Turandot, Puccini, Austin Opera; Carmen, Bizet, Pittsburgh Opera/Opera Theatre of Saint Louis).

Director
Rodula Gaitanou

Greece

Previously at WFO: Director (L’oracolo/Mala vita, 2018; Vanessa, 2016).

Previous Engagements: Director (Un ballo in maschera, Verdi, Opera Holland Park; Ariadne auf Naxos, Göteborgsoperan; Guillaume Tell, Victorian Opera – Melbourne).

Forthcoming Engagements: Director (Un ballo in maschera, Verdi, Oldenburgisches; La clemenza di Tito, Mozart, Bergen Opera; Carmen, Bizet, Opera Theatre of St. Louis).


 

Set & Costume Designer
takis

Greece

Previous Engagements: Set & Costume Designer (Phaedra, Henze, Royal Opera House; Un ballo in maschera, Verdi, Opera Holland Park; Iolanta, Tchaikovsky, Opera Holland Park).

Forthcoming Engagements: Set & Costume Designer (Don Giovanni, Mozart, Finnish National Opera; Eugene Onegin, Tchaikovsky, Opera Holland Park; Optimist, Jahn Teigen, Oslo Chateau Neuf).

Lighting Designer
Simon Corder

United Kingdom

Previously at WFO: Lighting Designer, 2012.

Previous Engagements: Set and Lighting Designer (Lucia di Lammermoor, Donizetti, Opera Hedeland; La Cenerentola, Rossini, Greek National Opera & Teatro Verdi – Trieste), Lighting Designer (Pique Dame, Tchaikovsky, Teatro alla Scala).

Forthcoming Engagements: Set & Lighting Designer (Un ballo in maschera, Verdi, Oldenburgisches Staatstheater), Lighting Designer (La clemenza di Tito, Mozart, Bergen National Opera; The Life & Death of Alexander Litvinenko, Anthony Bolton, Grange Park Opera).

Assistant Director
Ella Marchment

United Kingdom

Previously at WFO: Assistant Director (Medea, 2017).

Previous Engagements: Director (Turn of the Screw, Britten, Bury Court Opera; ‘Tryl’, Mozart/Marchment, Copenhagen Opera Festival; International Opera Awards 2018 Ceremony, London Coliseum).

Forthcoming Engagements: Assistant Director (Dido and Aeneas, Purcell, Juilliard School, Opera Holland Park, The Royal Opera of Versailles); Director (title TBA, Dutch National Opera); Librettist and Director (Madigan, Ashworth/Marchment, Helios Collective).

Choreographer
Luisa Baldinetti

Italy

Previous Engagements: Choreographer (La favorite, Donizetti, Gran Teatro La Fenice/Opéra Royal de Wallonie; Aida, Verdi, Teatro Carlo Felice/Macedonian Opera and Ballet; Rigoletto, Verdi, Guangzhou Opera House/Yunnan Grand Theatre).

Forthcoming Engagements: Revival Choreographer (Marco Polo, Enjott Schneider, Guangzhou Opera House/Teatro Carlo Felice), Choreographer (Rigoletto, Verdi, Tianjin Grand Theatre /Xiamen Banlam Grand Theatre; Anna Bolena, Donizetti, Teatro Carlo Felice).

Chorusmaster
Errol Girdlestone

United Kingdom

Previous Engagements: Conductor (Messiah, Handel, Association Musique de Chambre – Monaco; Vespers 1610, Monteverdi, Association Musique de Chambre – Monaco, Concerti Grossi/Dixit Dominus, Corelli/Handel, Ristretto).

Forthcoming Engagements: Conductor (Strathclyde Motets/Magnificat Antiphons, James MacMillan/Arvo Pärt, Summer Academy, Lumière; Messiah, Handel, St. Paul's Church – Monaco, Nelson Mass, Haydn, Ristretto).

Répétiteur
Andrea Grant

Canada

Previously at WFO: Répétiteur (2007–2019); Head of Music (2015–2019).

Previous Engagements: Répétiteur (Fire Shut up in my Bones, Terence Blanchard, Opera Theatre of Saint Louis; La finta giardiniera, Mozart, University of Toronto Opera; Così fan tutte, Mozart, Canadian Opera Company).

Forthcoming Engagements: Répétiteur (Hansel und Gretel, Humperdinck, Canadian Opera Company; Mansfield Park, Dove, University of Toronto Opera; Awakenings, Tobias Picker, Opera Theatre of Saint Louis).

Cast

La belle Dulcinée
Aigul Akhmetshina

Russia

Previous Engagements: Carmen (Carmen, Bizet, Royal Opera House), Preziosilla (La forza del destino, Verdi, Royal Opera House, Flora Bervoix (La traviata, Verdi, Royal Opera House).

Forthcoming Engagements: Mademoiselle Dangeville (Adriana Lecouvreur (in concert), Cilea, Deutsche Oper Berlin), Olga (Eugene Onegin, Tchaikovsky, Israeli Opera).


 

Don Quichotte
Goderdzi Janelidze

Georgia

Previous Engagements: Sparafucile (Rigoletto, Verdi, Bregenzer Festspiele), Prince Gremin (Eugene Onegin, Tchaikovsky, Vancouver Opera), Sparafucile (Rigoletto, Verdi, Teatro Colón – Buenos Aires).

Forthcoming Engagements: Vodnik (Rusalka, Dvořák, Vlaanderen Opera), Ramfis (Aida, Verdi, Canadian Opera Company), Sparafucile (Rigoletto, Verdi, Bregenzer Festspiele).

Sancho
Olafur Sigurdarson

Iceland

Previous Engagements: Wozzeck (Wozzeck, Berg, Finnish National Opera), Alberich (Das Rheingold, Wagner, Göteborgsoperan), The Dutchman (Der fliegende Holländer, Wagner, Finnish National Opera).

Forthcoming Engagements: Miller (Luisa Miller, Verdi, English National Opera), Alberich (Siegfried, Wagner, Göteborgsoperan), Telramund (Lohengrin, Wagner, Prague National Theatre).


 

Juan
Gavan Ring

Ireland

Previously at WFO: Lieutenant Gordon (Silent Night, 2014), Oompa Loompa (Golden Ticket, 2010), Father Philippe (The Wandering Scholar ShortWork, 2014), Marcello (La bohème ShortWork, 2010).

Previous engagements: Radoski (Sigismondo, Rossini, Münchner Rundfunkorchester), L’horloge/Le chat (L’Enfant et les Sortilèges, Ravel, BBC Proms), Frederic (The Pirates of Penzance, Gilbert & Sullivan, Cork Opera House).

Forthcoming engagements: Guest Tenor (Viennese New Year Gala, Orchestra of Opera North), Prologue/Quint cover (The Turn of the Screw, Britten, Opera North), Tenor Soloist (Requiem, Stanford, RTÉ National Symphony Orchestra).

Pedro
Gabrielle Dundon

Ireland

Previously at WFO: Miss Alden (Dinner at Eight, 2018).

Previous Engagements: Musetta (La bohème, Puccini, Northern Ireland Opera/Ulster Orchestra), Governess understudy (The Turn of the Screw, Britten, Northern Ireland Opera), Liu understudy (Turandot, Puccini, Northern Ireland Opera).


 

Garcias
Elly Hunter Smith

United Kingdom

Previous Engagements: Semi-Finalist (Elizabeth Connell International Competition for Dramatic Sopranos), Consort (Symphony No.9, Beethoven, Edvard Grieg Kor and Bergen Philharmonic), Semi Chorus (English Musical Renaissance, Rheingrau Festival and Hamburg Symphoniker).

Rodriguez
Dominick Felix

United Kingdom

Previously at WFO: Joe (La fanciulla del West ShortWork, 2018).

Previous Engagements: Tiridate (Radamisto, Handel, Guildhall School of Music and Drama), Vaudemont (Iolanta, Tchaikovsky, Guildhall School of Music and Drama), Vassili (Mavra, Stravinsky, Guildhall School of Music and Drama).

Footman 1
Thomas Chenhall

United Kingdom

Previous Engagements: Chorus (Götterdämmerung, Wagner, Edinburgh International Festival; Lucia di Lammermoor/Nabucco, Donizetti/Verdi, Dorset Opera Festival), Sole Inmate (Dead Man Walking, Jake Heggie, Royal Conservatoire of Scotland).

Footman 2
René Bloice-Sanders

United Kingdom

Previously at WFO: Larkin (La fanciulla del West Shortwork, 2018).

Previous Engagements: Chorus (L’elisir d’amore, Donizetti, Iford Arts Opera), Chorus (Falstaff/Belshazzar, Verdi/Handel, Grange Festival Opera), Eugene Onegin (Eugene Onegin, Tchaikovsky, Opera South East).

Forthcoming Engagements: Soloist (Judas Maccabaeus, Handel, Barnet Choral Society).