The classic tale of Don Quixote, the demented Spanish knight who tilts at windmills, is brought to life fantastically by Opera Australia.
Originally written by Miguel Cervantes in the early seventeenth century, the famously absurd novel was transformed into an opera in 1909 by the French Romantic composer Jules Massenet when he was 67, just three years before his death.
At 68, the world famous Italian bass Feruccio Furlanetto brings the role of the bungling, senile knight to life with comic compassion. Over the latter half of the twentieth century Massenet’s opera was rarely performed. In recent years Don Quichotte (the French spelling) has undergone a renaissance, thanks in large part to Furlanetto, who has performed the role to critical acclaim across Europe and North America. Furlanetto’s vocal powers are formidable and his ability to capture the tragicomic pathos of the Man of La Mancha is mesmerising.
Dulcinee, the object of Quixote’s affection, is performed to perfection by the Russian Soprano Elena Maximova. The chemistry between the two international stars is palpable.
The Don’s chubby offsider, Sancho Panza is performed by the Australian baritone Warwick Fyfe. Having played Leporello in Don Giovanni as well as Verdi’s Falstaff, Fyfe has mastered the role of the servant /sidekick.
Opera Australia has brought the San Diego Opera Company’s Spanish costumes and stunning period set complete with whirling windmills across the Pacific. The dance sequences at the start of the first and fourth acts choreographed by the Australian flamenco performer Tomas Dietz provide boundless energy and a powerful start to a spectacular night at the opera. (LG)
Until Mar 28. Sydney Opera House, Joan Sutherland Theatre, Bennelong Point, Sydney. $46-$348+b.f. Tickets & Info: www.opera.org.au
Reviewed by Lawrence Gibbons