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, opening November 19.
Furlanetto is a musical storyteller of the highest order. Opera News has written that he “combines the dramatic range and mutability of a true character actor with a uniquely ravishing vocal endowment.” He finds an ideal outlet for his expressive command in Don Quichotte — the man of La Mancha, knight and dreamer — which the singer has described as his favorite role.
It’s no surprise that Furlanetto should be drawn to such a character. Don Quichotte (based on Cervantes’s Don Quixote) has all of the charisma and gallantry we expect from a knight, as he seeks far and wide for the pearl necklace — stolen by bandits — that belonged to the gorgeous Dulcinée. But the aging Quichotte is also amiably clumsy, idealistic, and ultimately human; his personality, after all, has lent his name to the adjective “quixotic.” Musically, the work offers a gifted singer-actor everything from explosive emotion to tender whimsy.
“This music, the humanity of this role,” Furlanetto has said of Don Quichotte, “captures the hearts of the people in a unique way.”
The gentle knight seems to have captured this formidable bass’s heart as well. Although he’s performed a remarkable range of repertoire — from Mozart to Mussorgsky — Furlanetto keeps returning to Massenet’s irresistible comédie-héroïque. Audiences in Madrid, St. Petersburg, Toronto, and San Diego have previously hailed Furlanetto’s incomparable performance. In November, he adds Lyric to this growing list.
Furlanetto joins two debuting artists — French mezzo-soprano Clémentine Margaine (Dulcinée) and Italian baritone Nicola Alaimo (Sancho) — in a captivating, new-to-Chicago production. Don Quichotte has been absent from Lyric for more than 20 years. To hear it again will be a treat, especially with the great Ferruccio Furlanetto leading the cast!