Massenet's Don Quichotte has never quite established itself in the opera repertoire, not because of any deficit in the music, but because it's not immediately evident exactly what it is dramatically; is it a comedy or tragedy or some more subtle blend of the two? The last option seems to reflect the usual approach to it, which makes it a hard sell for audiences. I have always enjoyed seeing the musical theater version – especially the performances by Chicagoan James Harms – and then it all creeps up on me in that final scene and I am reminded of the don's Haunting death... and it IS a tragedy! Take the score for example; a fine work of French composition but nothing to do with Spain. The music is exquisite and very delicate and never really takes off until Act IV of 5 acts when the mezzo lets loose and sings and acts up a storm!
Don Quichotte was inspired by the greatest of all Spanish novels and is the story of an eccentric idealist and self-proclaimed knight errant who tilts at windmills and fights for the honor of his lady Dulcinée. The opera combines Massenet's fabulously atmospheric music with his own matchless theatrical flair to conjure energy and spirit, beauty, and hope.