Lyric's "DON QUICHOTTE" Is a Glorious Quest
Sat. November 26, 2016 12:00 AM
by Michael J. Roberts
Despite its five acts, there is under two hours of music in the opera and the action seemed to fly by! Massenet's Don Quichotte may stand a rung or two below his better known operas, such as Manon and Werther , yet there is plenty to recommend here. In love with Lucy Arbell who sang Dulcinée at the first performance, Massenet identified personally with his comic-heroic protagonist. He was then 67 and died just two years later from acute rheumatism. Raoul Gunsberg, director of the Opera de Monte Carlo, was searching for a vehicle for the internationally celebrated Feodor Chaliapin and commissioned Massenet to compose this opera for Chaliapin and his opera company. Yet, while Don Quichotte ended up being more than a star vehicle, its longevity owes much to the fascination inspired by its title character. Since this opera first appeared some of the world's most famous basses and bass-baritones have fallen in love with the role which requires charisma as well as vocal stamina. It requires a larger-than-life presence to realize the full profundity of Don Quichotte's final moment.