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Cristóbal Halffter: Don Quijote

  • Opera in 1 act (1997-1999)
  • original version
  • 4 4 4 4 - 6 4 4 1 - perc(4), hp, cemb, str, tape; on stage: tpt(3), tbn(3)
  • Duration: 115’
  • Instrumentation details:
    1st flute
    2nd flute (+picc)
    3rd flute (+picc)
    4th flute (+picc)
    1st oboe
    2nd oboe
    3rd oboe
    cor anglais
    1st clarinet in Bb
    2nd clarinet in Bb
    3rd clarinet in Bb (+cl(Eb))
    4th clarinet in Bb (+bass cl(Bb))
    1st bassoon
    2nd bassoon
    3rd bassoon
    4th bassoon (+cbsn)
    1st horn in F
    2nd horn in F
    3rd horn in F
    4th horn in F
    5th horn in F
    6th horn in F
    1st trumpet in C (+picc.tpt)
    2nd trumpet in C
    3rd trumpet in C
    4th trumpet in C
    1st trombone
    2nd trombone
    3rd trombone
    4th trombone (+bass tuba)
    bass tuba
    1st percussion
    2nd percussion
    3rd percussion
    4th percussion
    harp
    hpsd (+e.pno, slightly amplified)
    violin I
    violin II
    viola
    violoncello
    contrabass
    on stage: 1st trumpet in C
    2nd trumpet in C
    3rd trumpet in C
    1st trombone
    2nd trombone
    3rd trombone
  • Choir: SATB, 3 Sprecher
  • Roles: Dulcinea, soprano Aldonza, soprano Sancho, tenor Cervantes, baritone Don Quijote, baritone Moza 1 - Sobrina, soprano Moza 2 - Moza, mezzo-soprano Moza 3 - Ama, alto Ventero - Barbero, tenor Mozo 1 - Licenciado, baritone Mozo 2 - Cura, bass
  • Composer: Cristóbal Halffter
  • Original language: Spanish
  • Translator: Sieglinde Oehrlein
  • Dedication: a Sebastian Battaner, con mi amistad y gratitud
  • Commission: Ópera escrita por encargo de Caja Duero / Komponiert im Auftrag der Caja Duero

Work introduction

To look into Cristóbal Halffter’s music is always to peer into his life as well. This becomes clear enough when one considers his opera Don Quijote. Halffter chose material by an author who, like himself, always worked in the area of conflict between artistic freedom and political tyranny. Yet in their art both these figures committed themselves exclusively to humanity. With his Don Quijote Cervantes became a Spanish national hero; Halffter, through his artistic autonomy under Franco’s dictatorship, grew into a moral authority, a role model for a new Spain committed to humanist values. Halffter’s opera is based on the essential scenes of his literary source but, not least in its fictitious conversations between Cervantes and his knightly hero, develops into a grandiose discussion on the political meaning of mythic dreaming. Halffter cloaks this utopian subject matter in a powerful musical language that runs the gamut of almost all the emotions, from the ethereal amorous whispers of Dulcinea and Aldonza, to the brutal passion of the fanatic crowd which believes that it has destroyed the works of the West’s greatest spirits by fire.

Audiosamples

The complete perusal score (PDF-preview)

World première

Location:
Teatro Real, Madrid (ES)
Date:
23.02.2000
Orchestra:
Orquesta Sinfónica de Madrid
Conductor:
Pedro Halffter Caro
Main soloists:
Diana Tiegs, Maria Rodriguez, Emilio Sánchez, Josep Miguel Ramón, Enrique Baquerizo

Press reviews

Halffter’s opera denies neither its spiritual roots in the ’60s, nor his ambition to write Grand Opera for a large audience once again (Deutschlandradio)

A stunning 100 minutes – Halffter’s one-actor Don Quijote has lost none of its whitehot expressive power even…on Kiel’s smaller opera stage. The first-night audience unanimously demonstrated how impressed it was by this highly complex masterpiece (Kieler Nachrichten)

The Madrid première six years ago at the Teatro Real – one of director Herbert Wernicke’s most suggestive late works – provoked fears that this overpowering example might stand in the way of other approaches. The German première in Kiel has not only scotched that idea, but brought the work into sharper focus: eloquent proof of what smaller and medium-sized houses can achieve – to the positive shame of several other theatres (Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung)

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