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Opening in the town square of a small town in Spain, Don Quichotte by Jules Massenet tells the story of a somewhat delusional knight errant, his squire Sancho and their quest to retrieve the stolen necklace of Dulcinée in an effort to win her love and affection. Adventures with the bandit Tenebrun and his bandit gang ensue but Don Quichotte prevails and returns home with the necklace, only to be turned down by his love who wishes to remain unattached and independent. As the opera reaches its fifth act, Don Quichotte and Sancho return to the mountains where Don Quichotte embraces his imminent death much to the dismay of the ever-faithful Sancho. 


Before the start of each of the five acts, quotes from the novel are projected onto a screen covering the stage. As the music - conducted by Sir Andrew Davis – swells, creative lighting starts to bring to life the scene behind the screen. With an elaborate set designed by Ralph Funicello, we are transported from the town square to a mountain side adorned with windmills to the bandit’s lair. The creative use of projected animations, and well-constructed set pieces fill the stage with life and energy. 


In the main role, Ferruccio Furlanetto is a standout of the show. Capturing the eccentric character of Don Quichotte with his interestingly coifed hair and handle bar mustache, and his somewhat outdated armor all atop his trusty horse Rossinante, Furlanetto brings the role to life. For all the emotion and drama he brings to the show, his loyal squire Sancho, played by Nicola Alaimo in his Lyric Opera debut, brings the comic relief.  The pair together was a joy to watch and had great chemistry on stage throughout the performance to where the final scene will truly tug at your heartstrings. 


There is a large chorus for this show and amazingly the moments where only 2-3 actors shared the stage were just as powerful as when there were 20-30 people crowd the stage raising their voices together. The choreography and stage direction by August Tye was well done, with natural movement of large groups on stage that captured the feelings and emotions being portrayed in the scene whether it be the joyous celebration of the beauty Dulcinée, or Don Quichotte’s final prayer to the group of bandits. 


Overall, this was a great performance that tells a moving story. Although the show is 5 acts the story moves along quickly, and will keep you entertained. Sung in French, there are subtitles over the stage in English to follow along. While not over the top, the production is quite a spectacle and should be enjoyed by opera lovers and newbies alike.  Be sure to get your tickets soon as the production is only running at Lyric Opera of Chicago through December 7th. 


Published in Theatre in Review



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