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date: 14 November 2019

Retablo de maese Pedro, El (‘Master Peter’s Puppet Show’)locked

  • Ronald Crichton

Extract

(‘Master Peter’s Puppet Show’)

Puppet opera in six scenes by Manuel de Falla to his own libretto after an episode from Miguel de Cervantes ’s Don Quixote; concert performance, Seville, San Fernando, 23 March 1923; stage, Paris, home of Princess Edmond de Polignac, 25 June 1923.

The setting is the courtyard of an inn with a trestle stage on which Maese Pedro’s puppets perform the following scenes, the action of which is explained by a youthful narrator or trujamán (boy soprano). Scene 1 takes place at the court of Charlemagne. The emperor’s daughter Melisendra is in captivity at Saragossa. He appeals to the knight Gayferos, Melisendra’s husband, to rescue her. In Scene 2, at a tower at Saragossa, a Moorish soldier steals a kiss from the doleful Melisendra. The king, Marsilius, orders due punishment; the boy, enlarging upon the theme of punishment under the Moors, is chided by Quixote (bass-baritone) and Maese Pedro (tenor) for digressing. The punishment takes place in Scene 3 to the strains of a march. In the next scene, Gayferos rides through the Pyrenees towards Saragossa, his horn resounding. Scene 5, entitled ‘The Flight’, begins with Melisendra espying the knight from afar. When she recognizes Gayferos she leaps from the tower into his arms. Joyfully the couple ride off towards Paris. At the start of the final scene (‘The Pursuit’), both Maese Pedro and Quixote interrupt the action with complaints about the boy’s narration. When Quixote sees Moors in pursuit of the Christian couple he is outraged. Advancing on the stage, convinced that the puppets are real, he attacks them with his sword, wrecking Maese Pedro’s puppets and his livelihood. Quixote then declares himself knight errant in thrall to the fair Dulcinea, to whom he sings a short prayer before addressing the audience on the virtues of knight-errantry....

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