Don Chisciotte (‘Don Quixote’)
- John C.G. Waterhouse
Opera in six scenes by Vito Frazzi to his own libretto after Miguel de Cervantes ’s romance Don Quijote and Miguel de Unamuno’s Vida de Don Quijote y Sancho (1905); Florence, Teatro Comunale, 28 April 1952.
Frazzi’s rather idiosyncratic adaptation of a few episodes from Don Quijote – ranging from the dream-vision of the hero (baritone) in the cave of Montesinos to the encounter with maese Pedro’s prophesying ape and puppet show – is richer in dialogue than in visible action. The emphasis is less on the story’s adventurous qualities than on some of its philosophical and psychological implications, which are underlined with the help of elements taken from Unamuno. Although this approach tends to limit the opera’s impact in the theatre, its musical qualities are considerable: despite occasional excesses of recitative-like declamation, the score abounds in skilfully woven vocal ensembles, and in harmonic subtleties which sometimes reflect Frazzi’s longstanding interest (quite independent of Messiaen’s) in modes of limited transposition. Composed between ...