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Jules Massenet

Don Quichotte

Don Quixote by Miguel de Cervantes

Don Quixote, also spelled Don Quijote, 17th-century Spanish literary character, the protagonist of the novel Don Quixote by Miguel de Cervantes. The book, originally published in Spanish in two parts (1605, 1615), concerns the eponymous would-be knight errant whose delusions of grandeur make him the butt of many practical jokes.

As part one opens, an aging minor nobleman named Alonso Quixano, enamoured by chivalric romances, sets out from his home village of La Mancha on a quest for adventure. Christening himself Don Quixote, he recruits peasant Sancho Panza to be his squire, promising him an island to govern at the completion of their journey. The pair stumble into a series of comedic misadventures in which Quixote imagines the mundane world of the Spanish countryside as something more exciting and dangerous. In one memorable episode, he attacks a row of windmills, believing them to be gigantic knights. (This is the source of the common phrase “tilting at windmills” to mean attacking imagined enemies.)

Quixote evades attempts by friends and countrymen to safely bring him back home, while proving himself, despite his obvious madness, to be good and honourable, and winning Panza’s admiration and devotion. After numerous humiliations, he finally casts aside his illusions, returns home, and dies.

Don Quixote is considered by literary historians to be one of the most important books of all time, and it is often cited as the first modern novel. The character of Quixote became an archetype, and the word quixotic, used to mean the impractical pursuit of idealistic goals, entered common usage. Many 20th-century film, television, and stage adaptations of Don Quixote’s story were produced, notably the Broadway musical Man of La Mancha (1965) by Dale Wasserman, Mitch Leigh, and Joe Darion, source of the well-known song “The Impossible Dream (The Quest).”

Miguel de Cervantes, in full Miguel de Cervantes Saavedra, (born September 29?, 1547, Alcalá de Henares, Spain—died April 22, 1616, Madrid), Spanish novelist, playwright, and poet, the creator of Don Quixote (1605, 1615) and the most important and celebrated figure in Spanish literature. His novel Don Quixote has been translated, in full or in part, into more than 60 languages. Editions continue regularly to be printed, and critical discussion of the work has proceeded unabated since the 18th century. At the same time, owing to their widespread representation in art, drama, and film, the figures of Don Quixote and Sancho Panza are probably familiar visually to more people than any other imaginary characters in world literature. Cervantes was a great experimenter. He tried his hand in all the major literary genres save the epic. He was a notable short-story writer, and a few of those in his collection of Novelas exemplares (1613; Exemplary Stories) attain a level close to that of Don Quixote, on a miniature scale.

Miguel de Cervantes Saavedra

Illustrations from "Don Quichotte" by Gusrave Dore (1832-1883)

Jules Massenet
Don Quichotte

Massenet  - Don Quichotte
Pasión por la Ópera
Published on Aug 18, 2016
Jules Massenet - Don Quichotte

Don Quichotte - Samuel Ramey
Dulcinée - Carmen Oprisanu
Sancho - Jean-Philippe Lafont
Pedro - Jaël Azzaretti
Garcias - Allison Cook
Rodriguez - Jean-Pierre Trevisani
Juan - Kevin Greenlaw

Orchestra and Chorus of Opéra National de Paris
Conducted by James Conlon

Don Quichotte (Don Quixote) is an opera in five acts by Jules Massenet to a French libretto by Henri Caïn. It was first performed on 19 February 1910 at the Opéra de Monte-Carlo.

Massenet's comédie-héroïque, like so many other dramatized versions of the story of Don Quixote, relates only indirectly to the great novel Don Quixote by Miguel de Cervantes. The immediate inspiration was Le chevalier de la longue figure, a play by the poet Jacques Le Lorrain (fr) first performed in Paris in 1904. In this version of the story, the simple farm girl Aldonza (Dulcinea) of the original novel becomes the more sophisticated Dulcinée, a flirtatious local beauty inspiring 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, suffering from acute rheumatic pains, he 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.[1] Despite its five acts, there is under two hours of music in the opera.

Massenet identified personally with his comic-heroic protagonist, as he was in love with Lucy Arbell who sang Dulcinée at the first performance. He was then 67 and died just two years later. The role of Don Quichotte was one of the most notable achievements of the Russian bass Feodor Chaliapin, for whom the role was specifically conceived. The opera was one of six commissioned from Massenet by Raoul Gunsbourg for the Opéra de Monte-Carlo.



(Don Quixote)

Opera in five acts by Jules Massenet to a
French libretto by Henri Caïn. 


La belle Dulcinée (The beautiful Dulcinea)   
Don Quichotte (Don Quixote)
Sancho (Sancho Panza)
Pedro (travesti)
Garcias (travesti)
Chief of the Bandits
Two valets
Four bandits
Chorus: Gentry, Friends of Dulcinée,
Ladies, Bandits, Crowds.


Time: 17th century

Places:  Spain

Premiere cast, 19 February 1910


Jules Massenet - Don Quichotte 
Ditettore Alain Guingal
Dulcinee - Irini Karaianni
Don Quichotte - Ferruccio Furlanetto

Orchestra e coro del Teatro Massimo
Ottobre 2010



Contralto. Adored by many men who all want to marry her. She rejects Don Quichotte's proposal and sends him to look for her necklace, supposedly stolen by a bandit. When he returns it to her, she kisses him, but still refuses to marry him. Aria: C'est un fou sublime (‘He is a madman of genius’). Created (1910) by Lucy Arbell.

Don Quichotte:
Bass. The knight errant, prepared to fight anyone to defend the woman he loves, the beautiful Dulcinée. He mistakes windmills for giants and is carried up on their sails. Despite his chivalry, Dulcinée will not marry him. He dies, dreaming of meeting her in heaven. Arias: Je suis le chevalier errant (‘I am a knight errant’); Marchez dans mon chemin (‘Walk with me on my way’). Created ( 1910 ) by Fyodor Chaliapin.

Jules Massenet - Don Quichotte 
Andre Pernet "Je suis le chevalier errant"

Baritone. Servant of Don Quichotte. He accompanies his master on various quests and takes care of him at all times. Created ( 1910 ) by André Gresse...

Massenet  - Don Quichotte
Silvia Tro Santafé as Dulcinée - Alza!

Dulcinée: Silvia Tro Santafè
Don Quichotte: Josè van Dam
Sancho Pansa: Werner Van Mechelen
Pedro: Julie Mossay
Garcia: Camille Mercks
Rodriguez: Vincent Delhoume
Juan: Gijs Van der Linden

La Monnaie 
8 May 2010



A square in front of Dulcinée's house

A festival is being celebrated. Four hopeful admirers of Dulcinée serenade her from the street. Dulcinée 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 Don Quichotte (riding on his horse Rossinante) and his comic squire 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 Dulcinée, 'Quand apparaissent les étoiles' ('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 Dulcinée 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 Ténébrun, the bandit chief. He undertakes to do so, and Dulcinée quickly rejoins her men friends.


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 Dulcinée, 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.



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, reçois mon âme, elle n'est pas méchante' ('Lord receive my soul, it is not evil') moves Ténébrun, 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.


The garden of Dulcinée's House

Music and dancing, a party is in progress, but Dulcinée 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 Dulcinée, Sancho asks for his reward to which Don Quichotte responds with vague promises of an island, a castle, riches. Dulcinée 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, Dulcinée tells the others to leave, apologizes 'Oui, je souffre votre tristesse, et j'ai vraiment chagrin à vous désemparer' ('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 idéologue' ('Laugh, laugh at this poor idealist') and takes his master away.


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 île' ('Take that isle'). Nearing death, Don Quichotte looks up at a star shining brightly above and hears the voice of Dulcinée calling him to another world. Then he collapses as Sancho weeps over his body.

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