Don Quichotte

Don Quichotte

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Don Quichotte

Don Quichotte



by Jules Massenet
Performed in French with projected English translations
Performance running time: 2 hours 30 minutes including 1 intermission

Don Quichotte Opera Overview

More than half a century before Man of La Mancha, Massenet brought Cervantes’s universally beloved dreamer Don Quixote to the operatic stage. Inspired by the greatest of all Spanish novels, Don Quichotte 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 a Spain that abounds with energy and spirit, beauty, and hope. Legendary bass Ferruccio Furlanetto bringing this signature role to vivid life with Sir Andrew Davis conducting in a production that is as gorgeous to see as it is to hear.

Don Quichotte is a production of San Diego Opera.


Photo: Todd Rosenberg


Don Quichotte Opera Resources

View Program Book

Short Synopsis

In a small Spanish town a beautiful young woman, Dulcinée, is wooed by many men, but she hopes to meet a noble knight. The aging Don Quichotte and his servant, Sancho Pança, arrive in the town. Enchanted by Dulcinée, Quichotte offers to serve her. She asks him to bring back a necklace that bandits stole from her. Along the way, he mistakes windmills for giants interfering with his quest and battles against them. Meeting the bandits, he touches their hearts and they gladly give back the necklace. Quichotte returns it to Dulcinée, who laughs at his proposal of marriage but later admits that she feels unworthy of Quichotte’s devotion. On a mountain path Quichotte is resting as Sancho comforts him. He dies thinking of Dulcinée.

Don Quichotte

Audio Highlights

Jules Massenet

Recording by EMI – Van Dam, Bergonza, Fondary, Rivenq, cond. Plasson. Courtesy Warner Classics.

"Alza, alza!...Quand la femme a vingt ans"

“Regarde!...Géant, géant, monstrueux cavalier”

Don Quichotte at Lyric Opera

Ferruccio Furlanetto Returns in his Favorite Role with Don Quichotte

Internationally celebrated for his velvety tone, imposing vocal power, and electrifying stage presence, legendary Italian bass Ferruccio Furlanetto returns to Chicago (this time on horseback!) to portray the title role in Massenet’s Don Quichotte.

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DON QUICHOTTE — Dream Big. Live with Honor. Be a Legend.

Don Quichotte — Dream Big. Live with Honor. Be a Legend.

Massenet’s Don Quichotte was inspired by Cervantes's Don Quixote, the story of an eccentric idealist and self-proclaimed knight errant who tilts at windmills and fights for the honor of his lady love.

Read More

DON QUICHOTTE — Dream Big. Live with Honor. Be a Legend.

Don Quichotte Wins All Hearts at Lyric

The weather outside was frightful, but the sun-dappled and starlit scenes onstage were delightful as Lyric’s heartwarming presentation of Don Quichotte opened November 19. Here’s a small sampling of the rave reviews.

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Musical excerpts for Don Quichotte provided by through generous arrangement with Warner Classics, Official Education and Promotion Music Provider for Lyric Opera of Chicago.

Don Quichotte Synopsis


In and around a small town in Spain

There will be an intermission after Act Three.


In a town square, a crowd celebrates the beauty of Dulcinée. When she appears, she confesses that, however admired a young woman may be, there is invariably something missing in her life. Juan and Rodriguez argue over who adores her more, until they hear that Don Quichotte – a knight they have heard is delusional – is about to arrive with his squire, Sancho Panza. They now ride in, to the delight of the crowd. Thrilled with their popularity, Quichotte orders Sancho to empty his pockets for the beggars and children.

After the crowd has dispersed, Quichotte pulls out his mandolin, preparing to serenade Dulcinée, while the exhausted Sancho makes his way to the local inn. The knight’s serenade begins, only to be interrupted by Juan, who jealously warns Quichotte against pursuing Dulcinée. They duel, pausing momentarily so that Quichotte can finish his song but then resume, only to be interrupted again, this time by Dulcinée herself. She praises the beauty and musical mastery of Quichotte’s serenade, chiding Juan for his passionate outbursts.

Once alone with Quichotte, Dulcinée tells him that if he truly loves her, he will retrieve her necklace that was stolen the day before by the bandit Ténébrun – a mission that Quichotte immediately and happily accepts. Dulcinée then leaves with Juan and her other admirers, laughing about how Quichotte amuses her. The determined knight prepares for his quest.


Traveling in a misty countryside, Quichotte sings of Dulcinée, trying with full concentration to think of felicitous rhymes. Sancho begins to suspect that Dulcinée played a joke on them, and that there are, in fact, no bandits. He bitterly laments women’s deceitfulness.

The mist clears, revealing windmills that Quichotte believes are giants, adding to Sancho’s exasperation with his master’s madness. When he attacks the windmills, Quichotte gets caught in one of the sails, leaving him stuck circling through the air.


In the mountains at sunset, Quichotte and Sancho continue their journey. Quichotte remains enthusiastic and resolute, Sancho hesitant but faithfully following his master. They encounter the bandits, who greatly outnumber them, causing Sancho to run away. Quichotte is captured and the bandits are preparing to kill him, but his final prayer deeply moves them. He tells the bandits who he is, expressing his love of mankind and nature, his devotion to duty, and his dedication to his mission. When he asks for Dulcinée’s necklace, the bandits, captivated by his honesty and kindheartedness, gladly yield it. As Sancho comes out of hiding, Quichotte relishes his success and power over the bandits.


At a soirée in the garden of her house, Dulcinée turns away her admirers and ponders the positives and negatives of love. When pursued again by various suitors, she replies that their advances only bore her. She desires instead a different, less ordinary love.

After all retreat inside to supper, Don Quichotte and Sancho arrive, dreaming of the rewards that may await them. When everyone emerges, the victorious duo prove the success of their journey by producing the necklace. Quichotte believes this will secure Dulcinée’s hand in marriage, but she laughs, expressing her contentment with remaining independent and unattached. Attempting to console Quichotte, she explains that by being honest, she is clearly showing her affection for him. Her admirers and other guests mock the sad and disappointed knight. Sancho shames them for berating a man whose only crimes are his kindheartedness and idealism.


On a mountain path, Sancho prays over the sleeping Quichotte, hoping that his master’s gentle heart may find happiness and the realization of his dreams. Quichotte wakes and, knowing that his life is about to end, tells his trusty companion that he deserves everything he dreams of. As Quichotte looks to Jupiter, which shines brightly, he hears Dulcinée singing in the distance and believes her voice is coming from the heavens. He embraces death, leaving Sancho to mourn his departed master.

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