In the fall of 1996, a few weeks after the premiere at the Fernando de Rojas Hall of the Círculo de Bellas Artes in Madrid of the stage-musical show La Raya en el Agua, it came to me through the critic -and nevertheless friend- Juan Ángel Vela del Campo the proposal of an interview with Carles Padrissa and Àlex Ollé, directors of the La Fura dels Baus company, to consider the composition of an opera based on Don Quixote, to be premiered in the coming future at the Gran Teatre of the Liceu of Barcelona. Upon accepting the proposal and the Granada-born writer Justo Navarro doing the same for the writing of the libretto, and once in possession of the first pages of it, I immediately set to the task of first composing the script for voices and piano, given the urgency that Carles Padrissa and Àlex Ollé had of knowing the musical content from which to work the different scenic aspects. Once finished, I proceeded to the orchestration, putting an end to the score in August 1999.
Justo Navarro (1953)
In the notes to the program, as well as in the different articles and collaborations that we wrote on the occassion of the premiere, I gave an account of all kinds of technical and aesthetic details about the opera, for which I refer the reader interested in knowing them. Therefore, I will limit myself in this brief comment to some aspects not dealt with there.
A good part of the period of composition of the music (1996-1999) was necessarily busy attending to commissions and commitments previously acquired, and that is the reason why fragments of other contemporary works can be heard at some points in the opera, which were reworked here with a very different meaning. This is the case of the final chorus of the first act ("This is not what I am looking for"), whose orchestral part comes from the end of the second section of the Concerto for piano and orchestra (1997), or the aria of Pasamonte, also from the first act, superimposed on the third movement -with solo part included- of the Concerto da Chiesa for cello and string orchestra (1998).
Carles Padrissa (1959)
Àlex Ollé (1960)
On the other hand, they also found accommodation in D.Q. fragments of much earlier works: In this way, for the collage of superimposed recordings on which the vertiginous video images of the third act hurricane scene unfold, I used as a base the music of the complete third movement (The storm) of Ocnos (1986); and the three arias from Don Quixote in the second act are an amplified variation of the first of the Five Love Songs (the Cançó de la llassa), from 1994. Finally, the preludes with which each act begins are the three movements that make up the orchestral work The Harp and the Shadow, which they finally found in D.Q. its true original operatic sense. D.Q. (Don Quixote in Barcelona) premiered at the Gran Teatre del Liceu in Barcelona on October 2, 2000, being the subject of a subsequent media controversy directly proportional to the previous expectation generated by the premiere, and to which the critics, articles and reports below testify. The last representation took place on October 10, after having offered eight performances of the opera.
Enric Miralles and Benedetta Tagliabue
To the names of Justo Navarro, Carles Padrissa and Àlex Ollé, it is fair to add that of the ill-fated architect Enric Miralles, author, along with his wife, Benedetta Tagliabue, of the impressive set design, who died unexpectedly a few weeks before the premiere and to whom the music is dedicated. And along with the soloists, whose list appears below, prominently featured are those responsible for costumes (Chu Uroz), video (Emmanuel Carlier) and lighting (Albert Faura), along with the Chamber Choir of the Palau de la Música Catalana, conducted by Jordi Casas, and the Liceu Orchestra, led by Josep Pons as musical director of the show.
Jordi Casas (1948)
Josep Pons (1957)
Vocal cast of the premiere of D. Q. (Don Quixote in Barcelona)
A few months after the premiere, the Gran Teatre del Liceu inaugurated its own label with the recording and making-off of the opera on a splendid DVD made by Toni Janés, from which the video illustrations that appear on this page come.
Portada del DVD de D. Q. (Don Quijote en Barcelona)
D.Q. (Don Quixote in Barcelona): Keys ans reflections
"The only architecture is the moving one,
because although architecture does not have
ability to communicate solutions,
it does have it to transmit emotions."
Enric Miralles (La Vanguardia, June 23rd, 2000)
"Music is the best vehicle
to convey emotions."
José Luis Turina (El País, October 27th, 1986)
About the opera and its problems
Opera is, for the composer, a continuous source of dilemmas, in which temptation and reluctance coexist in a schizoid way, in a frenetic alternation capable of leaving Dr. Jekyll himself and his alter ego Mr. Hyde in diapers. Faced with the seduction of the ultimate in synesthesia (the "total work of art" that Richard Wagner dreamed of), of the sum -impossible, like that of apples and pears- of the infinite number of heterogeneous factors of each of the arts that make it up, and that turns the opera not into an "impossible object", but into an immense territory in which there will always be things to discover, many times defeats the composer, not the difficulty of the undertaking -that, in general, it is an incentive-, but the unpredictability of its result.
The History of Music is nothing other than that of the progressive conquest, by the composers who have succeeded each other over the centuries, of the different parameters that intervene in the musical fact since writing confers it the gift of survival. Quickly brought under control the basic components (pitch and rhythm), the work of "domestication" of those that are more difficult to determine (dynamics, agogic and, in a certain sense, timbre) has kept composers busy for a long period of historical time, having achieved optimal results, in this sense, in the field of electroacoustic music, as it is the only one that up to now has allowed the author to reach the definitive version, fully controlled in all its aspects, of the work. The same does not happen, it is clear, in instrumental music made by human means, in which a part of the final result necessarily escapes the composer's forecasts; but, in any case, he has the illusion, in each composed work, that he has captured in the score everything necessary so that the subsequent interpretations of the music resemble, in a very high percentage, what "sounded like inwardly" at the time of writing.
Perhaps for that reason the composer approaches -if he does- with great respect towards all those musical manifestations in which the unpredictability of the final result is greater than desirable. In the instrumental world, the scant approach to the composition of organ music is paradigmatic, a very complex instrument in which the final decision of the performer regarding the stops is crucial for the final result, since it affects its timbral aspect (and, by extension, the dynamic) and, with it, the ultimate physiognomy of the work. And in the vocal field, of course, the opera represents the entry into a world in which, once the score is finished, everyone who takes part in each production seems to have something to say and to contribute, except the composer.
As far as I am concerned, I must add that the previous reflections are nothing but trifles in the face of the tremendous technical difficulties that the musical use of the text represents, and for which the stage treatment supposes an additional twist. Music? Theater? Literature? Opera is all that, but for this it is necessary that each of these artistic manifestations give up a part of its personality along the way, for the benefit of the symbiosis with the rest. The important thing for the composer is knowing how to detect the limits to which it is possible to take each of them without breaking it, without it ceasing to be identifiable: to what extent is it possible to slow down the rhythm of a scenic situation in favor of slow music, without for that reason it ceases to be theatre, or how far one can go in manipulating the musical aspects of the text (intonation, accents, rhythm) without them ceasing to be present in the song (which is essential to understand its sense and, with this, its meaning) are just two examples of the complexity of the venture, as well as its greatness.
An incipient operatic adventure (Ligazón, a chamber opera in one act, based on the play of the same title by Ramón Mª del Valle-Inclán) quickly convinced me, twenty years ago, of the need for creative, technical and aesthetic maturity, and an in-depth knowledge of the purely linguistic aspects present in the music-text relationship, before undertaking the composition of a new opera, which I had been thinking about for a long time (in fact, a good part of my written works in the last ten years revolve around an opera project, which with Don Quixote in Barcelona has found the ideal opportunity to materialize, and in which they have found definitive accommodation). Only after many years of self-taught and disorganized study of the inner workings of the musical components of the language mentioned above, have I been able to reach my own conclusions about them, which, in general terms, have helped me to know the ground I was treading on and even where it was possible to explore it without losing awareness of its limits. Or, what is the same, deform it without destroying its recognizability.
Cover of the program-book of the premiere of D. Q. (Don Quixote in Barcelona)
Whose is an opera?
Recent times have meant an authentic revolution for opera that has placed the three eminently creative fronts that make it up in the same first line of importance: thus, music -traditionally considered the most important- has come to share the predominant position that, naturally corresponds to it, with the libretto -which today, unlike in the past, is required to have great literary quality- and with the staging, in which ultimately lies much of the appeal of any production of any title in the repertoire.
All of us who, in one way or another, love opera are pleased that this situation of equivalence has been reached, because we are convinced that the exact conjunction of these three factors is the key to initiating the highly desirable and indispensable renovation of a repertoire which, stagnant for decades in a few basic titles, strongly resists any proposal for renewal. In the same way, all of us who, in one way or another, believe in the validity of opera as a genre in which there is still much to say, are convinced that beyond these equivalences, neither can nor should be reached, by the good of such validity. Because there is no worse enemy of a global concept of a show than the limelight of one of its members. We have proven it ad nauseam with the demands and whims of so many singing stars and divas, who have endangered and made the purity of a performance fail more than once; and the same thing would happen if composers, librettists or stage directors began to exercise that absolutist and despotic role.
In that sense (and forgive me for immodesty), this show, as it will be seen and heard at its premiere at the Liceo, is exemplary: it belongs equally in the creative aspect to La Fura dels Baus, Justo Navarro and the undersigned these lines, without the order of the relationship implying any priority. And I am especially interested in highlighting all of the above, because in this lies, in my opinion, the main innovation of the proposal: contrary to what is usual, here there has not been a musician who for years has begged in the offices of businessmen and managers an opportunity for a score made from the libretto that some writer has made based on a pre-existing story or dramatic piece, and for which, in the best of cases, a staging totally unrelated to the the initial aesthetic intentions, completely lost in those years of pilgrimage.
On the contrary, everything in Don Quijote in Barcelona has been produced with absolute creative synchronization, understanding as such the logical process of intervention of the different components: it is La Fura's responsibility to have summoned Justo Navarro and me to write the libretto and music, respectively, of an opera based on the quixotic myth. From then on, Justo Navarro began to write and I began to compose at the rhythm that he imposed on me. Absolutely the entire process of material realization has taken place in the final order of the show: after the first act came the second, and the third ended the task. And as is logical in a work carried out in close and cordial collaboration, the frequent three-way meetings were, to a certain extent, reciprocally and fruitfully conditioning the work of one and the other. Justo Navarro and I have been enriched by the suggestions of Carlos Padrisa and Àlex Ollé to the same extent that they, logically, will have enriched ours.
With Justo Navarro, Àlex Ollé and Carles Padrissa at La Barceloneta Beach, after a working session (winter 2000)
Don Quixote in Barcelona: Literary and conceptual aspects
And having said all of the above, it seems the time has come to talk in detail about Don Quixote in Barcelona, as well as to provide the viewer with some essential keys to enable a direct understanding of the show, which is not usually easy in the case of a new work. Following the suggestion by Àlex Ollé and Carlos Padrisa to take Don Quixote as a starting point, thus forcing Spanish operatic creation to offer, at the turn of the millennium, a double operatic vision (that of Cristóbal Halffter and this one) of the Spanish classic myth par excellence, Justo Navarro's highly ingenious dramatic proposal quickly began to suggest a wide range of scenic and musical solutions.
I think I speak in the name of all the participants in the creation of this opera if I affirm that what attracted us above all to Cervantes's novel is not the story itself told, but the way it is told: what could be called the metanovel. Thus, over and above the well-known quixotesque adventures, more attractive for a thought clinging to the classical and romantic tradition and, therefore, affection to the purely narrative, or simply human values of the character, for all of us the truly dazzling thing about Cervantes' work it is the absolute modernity of its approach as a book, in which everything is contained, but which encompasses a wide range of other aspects, the formal ones, no less suggestive.
That conviction quickly led us to rule out the mise en musique of one or several scenes or "stamps" of the novel, since this would have meant such a conventional approach to the suggested theme that, no matter how innovative the strictly musical proposal would have been, it would have conferred an inevitably traditional character to the overall sense of the show. That is why we prefer to bet from the beginning on the opposite way, without caring about the use of traditional musical elements and procedures -quite the contrary: forcing their presence for the benefit of musical dramaturgy-, in the certainty that putting them at the service of an intention current stage performance would infuse them with a new vigor and energy.
In short, for us it is not so much Don Quixote that matters, but Cervantes' wonderfully brilliant creative talent, which is revealed to us through a complex system of literary artifices as attractive in themselves as the novel itself: suffice it to remember the way in which the author himself gets in and out of the pages of his work, saves himself from burning books and even allows himself to compete with his rival, Avellaneda, in the second part, where he even writes down a first bibliography of the first. With all this, and through a complex plot of superimposed narratives, the traditional security of the novel reader, based on the control of the different structural planes, falters as facing a violent seismic-aesthetic movement in front of which no cultural foundations can resist.
In this lies the full actuality of Don Quixote, and in the face of all this, for today's readers, what is undoubtedly paramount in Cervantes' thought is unimportant: the parodic intention of his novel, which, to be fully understood, it requires knowledge of the books of chivalry which he intended to ridicule by means of fierce satire. And the fact that in our days the books that served Cervantes as a reference have fallen into oblivion, but nevertheless we continue to enjoy Don Quixote, is irrefutable proof that the novel imposes itself, both for its plot, that it enjoys autonomy from the parodic references that inspire it, as well as from its unquestionable literary quality.
Our scenic proposal, however, wishes to approach that original, fundamental pretext of the novel, through a triple parody that, in general terms, is based on the following references:
a) Parody of the opera as a genre, through the use of easily recognizable formal operatic procedures that, in a certain way, characterize the most important characters (such as the arias of the Auctioneer and Pasamonte in act I, or that of Don Quixote and the Trifaldi Sisters in act II), as well as "winks", in the form of more or less rapid bursts, to operas from the traditional repertoire -among which Parsifal plays a prominent role, as could not be least, as the Liceo is the theater that assumes this premiere, as well as El retablo de Maese Pedro, of which, thanks to the kindness of Isabel de Falla, a brief fragment can be heard in the third act in which the original melody of the Trujamán has been adapted to a new text- and that, therefore, will be quickly identified by those who know them, going unnoticed by those who ignore them (as occurs in the innumerable situations in which Don Quixote parodies scenes from the satirized cavalry books, no doubt familiar to the reader of the time, but unknown to the one of today).
b) Parody of Cervantes' own novel. In our opera there are many references to scenes from Don Quixote (the adventure of the galley slaves, Master Peter’s puppet show, the enchanted head, the penance in Sierra Morena, the Courts of Death...), and on which it is appropriate for Justo Navarro to explain; I limit myself to emphasizing how powerfully it caught our attention that Cervantes, in a stroke of brilliant ingenuity, referred to the adventure told in the twenty-third chapter of the second book as apocryphal, in the very title of said chapter. The adventure in question is none other than the narration that Don Quixote makes of what he has seen in the cave of Montesinos, to which he had descended in the previous chapter. Cervantes wants the reader to believe that what happened to Don Quixote in the cave was so incredible that, fearing not to be believed, he did not hesitate to tell a story on his return that was plausible in its madness, but that his friends (and even Cervantes himself, camouflaged here as a skeptical observer) found it as crazy or more than the real thing: the encounter with Montesinos, Durandarte, Belerma and their entourage, all there enchanted by Merlin the magician.
Well then, and to say it with all possible irony, let it be known from now on that Don Quixote in Barcelona is nothing more than the story set to music of the true events that happened to Don Quixote in the cave of Montesinos: believing he entered in the cave, Don Quixote actually makes his appearance in a Geneva auction room, in the distant future, trapped by a time locator machine for ancient wonders, programmed to find him in the past. Don Quixote is sold to a Hong-Kong billionaire as a gift to his daughters, the Trifaldi Sisters, who exhibit him to numerous guests in their Garden of Monsters. The nostalgia for Don Quixote is so great that the sisters decide to return him to where they have the greatest memory of him -that is: to his time-. But instead of being sent back in time, Don Quixote appears in Barcelona in 2004, within an International Congress held to commemorate the 400th anniversary of the novel, and whose purpose is to elucidate the authorship of the book, given the ambiguity with which Cervantes deals in the same matter. The presence of Don Quixote in Barcelona not only brings a great stir to the Congress: at the same time he arouses the forces of nature around him, causing a hurricane that, coming from the sea, devastates the city up the Ramblas. That, and not denying Avellaneda, which makes him travel to Zaragoza, is the real reason why Don Quixote wants to return to Barcelona at the end of the second part of the novel: to undo the wrong caused by his previous visit to the city.
c) Lastly, a parody of what we could call metaquixotism, or everything that has been written about Don Quixote to explain Don Quixote, which today is consubstantial with the reading of the novel and which in our opera focuses on the last act, in the International Congress "Don Quixote de la Mancha".
This is, broadly speaking, our pre-text. With regard to the text, it can be said that the general parodic intention of Don Quixote in Barcelona requires a considerable amount of sense of humor and scenic agility for its realization; but, as happens in Cervantes' novel, this is not an obstacle for the character and his story to become endearing, such is the load of humanity that they ooze. Ultimately, Don Quixote is nothing more than a poor mediocre being who resists a life of eating lentils on Fridays and pigeons on Sundays. Visitors to the Trifaldi Sisters' Garden of Monsters are horrified by his presence upon discovering that he is infected with Time, a deadly, radioactive substance from which their society has known how to free itself at the time and which, at most, can be excavated to recover, among its different layers, the most valuable objects of the past.
With Luis de Pablo in the magazine El País Semanal of September 30, 2000, on the occasion of the premiere of our two operas in the 2000-2001 season (his was La señorita Cristina)
Technical and aesthetic aspects
All that dazzling literary approach directly affects the music itself. In the same way that Justo Navarro's text must be fully understood so that the viewer can follow and enjoy the pure theatrical action, the music that supports it must be coupled to it, in the melodic-metric of the vocal parts and in the character (violent, expressive, scherzante, melancholic...) of the different elements and procedures used.
Do not look for a pure artistic product in Don Quixote in Barcelona, obsessed by the extreme novelty of the language used, as a reflection of a rigorous avant-garde aesthetic thought, because any analysis in that direction is doomed to failure, as the show itself will prove. There is no such, nor is there any intention that there be. Now, this should not be understood as meaning that the result does not claim to be current, despite the multiple aesthetic "impurities" that dot it, because the current intention lies precisely in the violent superimposition of tradition and modernity, which acquires full dramatic sense through the literary and scenic dimensions.
Thus, the revelation, for the Visitors of the Garden of Monsters, that Don Quixote is a being that belongs to another era occurs, not only because of what he says ("... and not feeling time, a Merlin that injects me time..."; or "... I want to heal myself from time, not to be who I am, to be Don Quixote."), but because of how he says it, singing the nostalgia of his time in a (tonal) language and a rhetoric (formal: aria) that reveal their origin from another world -the past-, in which time was one of the great scourges of humanity, and from which he has been painfully torn away.
In this way, and by similar procedures -including the quotes, already mentioned, from operas of the repertoire, and the use of openly tonal resources, when it is time that is evoked or comes into play in one way or another-, the constant confrontation between the future and the past transcends from the libretto to the music, from the use of the contemporary together with the traditional, and by force it will have to do so to the scenography and the staging, which however innovative and provocative they may be, as it corresponds and no less is expected of their authors, they will have to contain a large number of identifiable features with which what is current can be measured to be fully so. I refer to the fantastic scenographic solution adopted for the "cage of air and time" (what a wonderful image!) in which Don Quixote is exhibited, to corroborate how the dramatic conflict between tradition and modernity is tangible even in the most insignificant details of this work, be they literary, musical or scenic.
As for the other technical aspects of the score, I think it is worth emphasizing here that the group of voices (made up of two sopranos, a mezzo, a contralto, a sopranist, two tenors, two baritones and two basses, among main and secondary solo roles, in addition to a choir that sometimes adopts a chamber formation) serves as instrumental support, from the pit, an orchestra that, first, out of conviction, and later, due to needs derived from the space, reduces certain elements (such as the woodwind and string sections) for the benefit of others (piano, harp and percussion). At some very specific moments, the sound space will be filled with previously recorded music, either as a "soundtrack" for a projection, or as an unintelligible superimposition, in order to underline certain scenic situations and sonically "envelop" the viewer. And the use of electroacoustic procedures should not be forgotten, the elaboration of which has been carried out by La Fura itself, and in which all those who have wished to do so have been invited to participate via the Internet.
Finally, I think it is interesting to point out that the work of synchronous creation of libretto, music and scenic components forced me from the first moment to a completely unusual way of working. The urgency for Carlos Padrisa and Àlex Oller to have available sound material from which the staging could be designed determined a very rapid process of composition of the main thing, as a starting point: the vocal lines and a script or sketch of its orchestral accompaniment, from which a working model could be elaborated that would give a precise idea of the times and the character of the different scenic situations. I must admit that for me, who performs symphonic works (and an opera obviously is) directly from the orchestral score itself, and not as an instrumentation from a previous script, the experience has not only been highly positive, but I would dare to say that decisive for, given the faster and more direct global perception of the result, to guarantee that the scenic agility required by the text was not going to be lost in benefit of the realization of the orchestral detail, whose laboriousness requires a considerably slower creative tempo. I believe that in this way a greater fluidity and spontaneity of the musical material has been achieved, which has then been carefully orchestrated, now free of constraints and urgencies, until the final score was completed in the summer of 1999.
Epilogue / Dedication
Barely three months after the premiere of this opera, and coinciding with the writing of this article, the world of architecture loses, in full creative maturity, Enric Miralles, one of its most brilliant creators. To the privilege that the scenography of this show is due to his extraordinary talent and his enthusiastic dedication, pain, impotence and rage at the disappearance of an exceptional human being are added.
Faced with an era of fierce rationalism, his aesthetic conviction of integrating ruins and archaeological remains into the new -I refer to his own studio, a paradigm of coexistence between the diachronic and the synchronic-, and his defense of an architecture based on emotion, connect in such a way with my position regarding music, that I trust that the double citation with which I have not been able to resist the temptation to head this article will serve to make it abundantly clear to the viewer our intention to recover for art a component, if not lost, yes forgotten for long years, that can have a place in a rigorously intellectual conception of artistic creation, of which it is also a part and to which it provides complete balance.
The score of Don Quixote in Barcelona is dedicated to his remembrance, with the hope that in this way his memory will remain inextricably linked to that of a work for which, despite being very different from his usual medium, he did not hesitate to deliver the best of his talent, through the creation of a prodigious scenography that he will never get to see, but that those of us who attend this premiere will never be able to forget.
José Luis Turina
First page of the 1st act of D. Q. (Don Quixote in Barcelona)
First page of the 2nd act of D. Q. (Don Quixote in Barcelona)
First page of the 3rd act of D. Q. (Don Quixote in Barcelona)
D.Q. (DON QUIJOTE EN BARCELONA) Ópera en tres actos
Libreto: Justo Navarro
Música: José Luis Turina
Un espectáculo de La Fura dels Baus
GINEBRA - SALA DE SUBASTAS
Señoras y señores, mesdames, messieurs,
ladies and gentlemen, ha llegado
el momento, el momento de sacar a subasta
mi más preciada antigüedad.
Permítanme decirles, señoras y señores
de gusto eminentísimo y amantes de la ópera,
que ha llegado el momento de ofrecerles...
Sea lo que sea lo que nos ofrezca
quisiera recordarle su promesa:
ninguna antigüedad superaría
mi adquisición, mi Corazón
recien comprado, mi sin sangre
Corazón de Jesús.
Y nada, nada
lo supera en su género.
¿Y mi tumba,
mi tumba de Arturo, importada
Respetemos los géneros, señoras
y señores, la Religión, la Historia
son otra cosa: ahora
les ofrezco otro género de herrumbre:
es más inútil, pero mancha
menos las manos.
distinguidos clientes amantes de la ópera
y las antigüedades, que esta firma
presenta sólo maravillas
insuperables, como insuperable
es nuestra Localizadora
Temporal de Maravillas Antiguas.
CORO DE AUXILIARES
Temporal de Maravillas Antiguas!
de la industria del tiempo ginebrina!
¡Maravilla de la cronografía!
Gracias, señoras y señores. Merci. Thank you.
Somos especialistas en el tiempo,
creadores del tiempo, yo diría:
el tiempo fue creado
para que nuestra firma prestigiosa
comerciara con él.
Me congratulo por su confianza
Estará nuestra Localizadora
a su servicio siempre, por los siglos
de los siglos, epero, escogidísimos
coleccionistas de los más antiguo.
Es un honor que cualquier beneficio
que reporten las cosas más antiguas,
en las cosas más nuevas se transforme.
Que nuestra Máquina novísima
busque y busque otra vez y vuelva ahora
con una nueva antigua maravilla:
¡Un Don Quijote!
¿Un Don Quijote?
No sé que es
un Don Quijote.
¿Será un libro?
¿Un libro? ¿Qué es un libro?
Recuerdo que una vez tuve un libro en la mano.
Tengo 362.875 libros,
conservo en las ruinas del Titanic.
Y aún más: los fondos de la Biblioteca
del Congreso de los Estados
Unidos, que adqurí
hace 60 años. ¿Lo recuerda
nuestro Subastador? ¿O hace 100 años ya?
Tengo miles de libros y no sé
qué uso le darían en su tiempo
a un artefacto semajante.
Creo que una vez oí
que un libro es un objeto misterioso.
Pones los ojos en un libro
y una voz que no es tuya, y llega de otro tiempo
y otro lugar,
habla dentro de tí.
No me lo creo.
¿Qué es un Don Quijote?
Yo sé bien lo que es un Don Quijote,
otra vez Don Quijote, no puedo soportarlo,
no puedo soportar su insoportable
obstinación, tan antipática
como es insoportable Don Quijote,
mi pobre insoportable,
condenado a creer que el mundo es
como él quiere que sea.
Mi insoportable lamentable,
madrugador y seco, amarillento.
No puedo soportar
a Don Quijote el inflexible, sólo
fiel a su sueño: el mundo es su capricho.
No tiene ni siquiera un nombre fijo:
Señor Quesada o Quijana o Quijada,
Quijote o don Azote o don Jigote
o Quijotísimo o Quijótiz, siempre
caprichoso e inexorable
en su conducta; Caballero
de la Triste Figura y Caballero
de los Leones. No puedo
soportarlo, mi pobre insoportable,
siempre dispuesto a la crueldad
contra quien niega su ilusión,
su sueño, necedad o desatino.
Quizá merezca todas las crueldades
de quienes se disfrazan y disfrazan el mundo
para que sea como Don Quijote
quiere que sea.
¿De qué habla?
¿Qué está diciendo?
permítame. Señoras y señores,
mesdames, messierurs, ladies and gentlemen,
Excelencias, permítanme. Ha llegado
el momento, el momento
de la subasta: nuestra Maquinaria
un Don Quijote buscará
y encontrará. Protéjanse del tiempo:
Peligroso sería dejarse seducir por el pasado.
Peligroso sería que el pasado nos rapte.
La música del tiempo podría endemoniarnos
para siempre jamás.
Protéjanse del tiempo, las máscaras, las máscaras,
puede ser peligrosa la corriente del tiempo
Temporal de Maravillas Antiguas
está dispuesta, Maravilla
Moderna de la industria de la cronografía.
Attenti, per piacere, achtung, achtung:
Cuento las cuentas rápidas del tiempo:
¡Cinco! ¡Cuatro! ¡Tres! ¡Cuatro!
Me pierde la impaciencia, me equivoca.
Usted no se equivoca
jamás cuando se trata
de esquilmarnos nuestras fortunas.
Qué cosas dice usted, señora Turba.
Ajústense las máscaras,
señoras y señores, mesdames, messieurs,
ladies and gentlemen. Lo aconseja
la industria cronográfica suiza.
El tiempo es peligroso: nos gasta,
nos consume, nos hace millonarios
en saber y costumbres deleitosas.
Bendito sea el tiempo,
el tiempo amargo y dulce, base mágica
de la industria de la cronografía.
¡Ajústense las máscaras!
¡Protéjanse del tiempo amargo y dulce!
No soporto las escafandras.
Señoras y señores, mesdames, messieurs,
ladies and gentlemen, ha llegado el momento.
¡Cinco! ¡Cuatro! ¡Tres! ¡Dos! Perdónenme
otra vez, Eminencias. Señor Pasamonte,
la máscara, la máscara.
uno cero, se dice en estos casos.
Qué veloz nos arrastra
la música del tiempo, la corriente
de los siglos, estamos y no estamos
y volvemos a estar. No puedo detenerme,
cuento las cuentas rápidas del tiempo.
SUBASTADOR Y CORO
No es esto lo que busco,
cazadores furtivos escondidos
entre los árboles, la cueva
y el palacio, no es esto lo que busco,
pero el lugar sí es, es el lugar que busco,
y el tiempo, pero no quiero acordarme
de este tiempo, y este lugar
es un lugar del que ya no me acuerdo,
es un lugar que está perdiendo el nombre
o sólo tiene nombre, un crucifijo
que suda sangre veintinueve horas
y también un pañuelo empapado en la sangre
del crucifijo sudador, regalo para el rey,
no es esto lo que busco,
un verdugo, un bajel, un almirante
y un tullido fingido y un fingidor tullido,
no es esto lo que busco, una reina y un rey
y un príncipe, una horca, no es esto lo que busco,
y un olor a cajón que guarda guantes,
carmelitas descalzos, la estocada
que ha partido la lengua y rompe la garganta
del duelista, no es esto lo que busco,
pulgas del tamaño de ratas chupan ratas del tamaño de gatos
Son Gatos de Diamante
o Perros de Diamante, no me acuerdo,
hay fango y oro y excrementos,
carne de lirio y labios de clavel
o lepra, morcillas y vino,
soledades y soldadesca,
pero no es lo que busco, piel de perro,
piel de rata en palacio, dominicos,
y piel de armiño, enmascarados
y un enano, garrafas y empanadas
y abanicos y moscas, sangre en cubos,
sangre de cerdo, un sabio, topos, tapiz roído,
almizcle y pestilencia,
espadas y reliquias, empalados, pinceles,
un mazapán gigante con forma de castillo,
está el enamorado de su cabra
y la hoguera donde quemaron
a aquel enamorado de su cabra, y una estampa donde se ve
cabras y enamorados, no es esto lo que busco,
mulas de paso tartamudo, albahaca y verbena,
con vestido de seda espantapájaros,
tramoyas y comedias, la monja emparedada por huir
con el hidalgo degollado
por huir con la monja emparedada, no es esto lo que busco,
cuchillo y venda con que degollaron
a un hidalgo que huyó con una monja,
una mano que pide y una mano que da,
alquien que vive y muere silenciosamente,
Tarzán con armadura en su liana,
no es esto lo que busco. O es esto lo que busco:
¿Un Don Quijote?
Hay tantos Don Quijote
que encontrar uno solo es muy difícil.
Me acuerdo de este mundo como si fuera mío
y nunca hubiera sido verdadero,
como si lo estuviera
viendo ahora mismo, aquí,
ilusión de mi máscara
o efecto óptico, otra vez,
otra vez Don Quijote.
Me descuelgo en lo hondo, me empozo, me traga el abismo,
quito cuervos y grajos y matas y aparto murciélagos,
Dulcinea, por ti, y en lo hondo me espera un palacio
transparente, de puro cristal luminoso, y estoy en la cueva
donde está Montesinos, y estoy con Belerma que tiene en las manos
un cojín, y, entre sedas, lavado con lágrimas,
Montesinos, sin sangre, lo veo: es el corazón
de tu amigo, tu amigo. Dirá Durandarte, que muere
en batalla perdida: Abre y corta y arranca y llévalo luego
a Belerma. Belerma: vela el sepulcro, no huesos ni polvo,
sino carne con huesos, y seda para el corazón
del descorazonado Durandarte:
Durandarte, Belerma, Montesinos,
por el mago Merlín malencantados.
¡Mi aborrecible Don Quijote
otra vez! Me da miedo: yo también
tengo un monstruo
dentro de mí, igual que cada uno,
la esperanza, el horror de convertirme en otro,
y cubrirme de vello o menguar o aumentar,
o padecer alguna enfermedad
que deforma al enfermo que la sufre,
o beberme algún día un líqido color
de sangre, alguna droga tan potente
que somete y quebranta
la ciudadela de mi alma, y siento
que mis huesos se pulverizan,
y un dolor más horrible que el dolor de nacer
y el dolor de morir.
o me despierto una mañana convertido
en monstruoso insecto, o paso
la noche sin dormir leyendo libros,
y del poco dormir y del mucho leer
acabo siendo otro, caballero
andante como otro fue un insecto.
Ya basta, Don Quijote, no quiero ver
siempre al mismo mutante.
Me llamo Don Quijote de la Mancha,
aventurero y caballero andante.
Me interesa: yo colecciono monstruos.
300.000 volúmenes que cuentan
mi historia se han impreso.
Y 300.000 veces de millares
llevan camino de imprimirse.
(Voces, agitación de subasta: "Me interesa ese montruo", "¡Es mío!", "¡Para mí!", etc.)
Señoras y señores, es terrible:
¡Hay un sitial vacío!
El tiempo se ha tragado a Pasamonte.
HONG-KONG. TERRAZA-JARDÍN DE LAS HERMANAS TRIFALDI
CORO DE GUÍAS
Bienvenidos y bienvenidas
al jardín de los monstruos
de las Hermanas Trifaldi, herederas
auténticas y únicas
del gran emperador de los plutócratas
de Hong Kong. Bienvenidos
al único y auténtico, imperial,
jardín de monstruos de nuestras galaxia.
¿dónde está? ¿Donde está el monstruo?
¿Dónde el monstruo está?
no ha terminado todavía
el nuevo monstruo?
VOZ EN OFF
los vigilantes a las puertas: no
está permitida la entrada
una vez comenzada la representación.
más deleitosa bienvenida
al jardín del Hong Kong de las Trifaldi. Admirarán
los monstruos más preciosos.
¡Las únicas y auténticas hermanas
No, no busquen
en esa oscuridad de múltiples cabezas (miran hacia el público)
y muchos cuerpos, monstruo
tan tenebroso y deslumbrante: puede
cegar a quien lo mira desde aquí.
Es monstruo viejo. Miren
(Aparición detrás de una pantalla de cristal de las Hermanas Trifaldi.)
oírlas, no podemos nosotros
oírlas, pero el monstruo
oscuro e invisible
tiene muchos oídos y las oye.
Yo no he leído Don Quijote,
pero no aguanto la tristeza;
pues la tristeza es triste
y la pobreza es pobre,
y el pobre Don Quijote es el más triste
y el más extranjero de los monstruos,
más triste si da risa,
extranjero entre extraños
y extraño entre los suyos, doblemente extranjero,
extranjero en sí mismo,
tres veces extranjero.
Yo no he leído Don Quijote
ni lo quiero leer.
Es la historia más triste que conozco.
¿Cuándo veremos a ese monstruo
que da risa? (Risas.)
Yo no tengo
ninguna gana de reir. Tres reos
fugados de una cárcel me asaltaron.
Y los libró ese monstruo, Don Quijote.
¡Qué emoción! ¡Es hombre valiente!
¿Emoción? Un maníaco
es, o tan gran bellaco como
O es un hombre
sin alma y sin conciencia.
que dice ser un caballero
ya son palabrería -¡Un Caballero
Andante!-, y no la entiendo.
Y ese Quijote dice
que no le toca a él averiguar
si los encantados y afligidos
que en el camino encuentra
van de aquella manera, en esa angustia,
por matar o reir:
que tan sólo le toca
ayudarles como a menesterosos,
poniendo en sus penas los ojos,
no en sus bellaquerías.
es don Quijote si así piensa.
Un peligro público.
puede oírme ahora mismo, y debo confesarme
que quiero deshacerme de ese monstruo
y hazmerreír tristísimo que busca
el fúnebre ciprés y el tejo fúnebre
y la parte más áspera y la más escondida
del bosque, y en la arena sutil y en la corteza
de los árboles graba
una sola palabra,
una sola palabra,
Es desdichado y loco. Y solo
está. Y es desdichado y loco y solo.
Y es un monstruo herrumbroso don Quijote.
Ya basta. Abrid las puertas.
VOZ EN OFF
con ustedes las únicas e incomparablemente repetidas
las bellas Trifaldi en persona.
y amigos muy felices: bienvenidos a nuestro
Esperamos que nuestro don Quijote
os resulte también encantador.
¿Veis vosotros lo que yo veo?
¡Una máscara de basura!
¿Se ha visto ese hombre
a sí mismo? ¿Sabe quién es?
Yo sé quien soy, y no soy
quien quiero ser, y lo sé:
cara y máscara, actor
y espectador, herrumbre y rey.
Verdad no es la verdad
si es sólo hermosura:
es sólo disfraz.
Es que tengo miedo de no vivir:
vivir en casa plácida,
renta fija y salpicón
las más noches, siempre.
Es un monstruo que tiene
cara de comedor
de lentejas los viernes,
olla todos los días,
salpicón las más noches,
sus sábados son duelos y quebrantos,
y pichón sus domingos,
y todos sus domingos
Es un héroe, mis queridos
invitados, que llama
a un tal Sancho su amigo, Sancho, Sancho,
y en la arena sutil, y en la corteza
de los árboles graba
una sola palabra: Dulcinea.
Y a cuchilladas anda con el aire,
y cansado por fin a voces dice
que ha muerto a tres gigantes como tres
torres, y suda y suda, y el sudor
dice que es sangre, herida de batalla,
y entonces bebe un jarro de agua fría
y queda sano y dulce,
y dice que aquel agua
es una preciosísima bebida
que le ha servido el sabio Esquife,
un gran encantador y amigo suyo.
Es un viejo.
Y huele, huele a viejo:
Estopa, hierro sucio, cartón húmedo.
Soy un viejo, y mi vejez
era una vieja modosa:
salpicón las más noches,
los días muertos siempre en orden.
Yo quiero el esplendor:
no vida que sea
vivir sin vivir.
Por ser Quijote
destruí a un no sé cuál o un no sé quién:
Quijano o Alonso o
Quesada: un ser sin vivir.
Vivir es ser otro.
A ese mutante alucinado
o No Sé Quién deshecho
el tiempo lo destroza: le ha puesto una careta
seco. Y le arrebata
a puñados el pelo. Y con herrumbre
y puñados de polvo el tiempo
lo cubre. Y seca leña el tiempo vuelve
su esqueleto. Y por dentro lo dilata
y por fuera lo arruga el tiempo, y lo contrae.
Y sólo tienen vida sus células si están
nmuertas o enfermas y deformes.
dicho! ¡Nuestro mejor y más perfecto
mutante alucinado es Don Quijote!
Os saludaría, damas,
si no estuviera
encantado en esta jaula
de aire y tiempo.
Es gentil este monstruo despreciable.
Y diría que sois
mi única Dulcinea
si no fuerais dos
y tan iguales.
Únicos son los monstruos,
y son irrepetibles.
Si yo no existiera, sería
monstruosa mi hermana. No,
si yo no existiera, mi hermana
sería monstruosa. No, si yo
no existiera mi hermana
sería monstruosa, irrepetible...
Y son irrepetibles
los monstruos, y están solos. Y nosotros
no estamos solos nunca,
siempre somos felices,
músicas y banquetes y bebidas
de nieve. Y siempre somos
felices, nunca solos, y, si somos
solos, somos felices porque
siendo solos también cumplimos
nuestro deseo. Y alguien nos desea
siempre. Y nos favorecen
el cielo y la fortuna. Siempre
músicas y banquetes y bebidas
de nieve. Y no sentimos
jamás el tiempo en fuga.
Este jardín sabe a cárcel
o a escenario de teatro,
que en escena aparezcan
gigantes, máquinas, caballos voladores.
Y no sentir el tiempo,
el tiempo: un Merlín
que tiempo me inyecta.
de los días sin emoción vividos siempre.
del tiempo: no ser quien soy.
Ser don Quijote.
No nos hables de tiempo, hemos venido
a no sentir el tiempo.
de los días sin emoción
siempre vividos: quisiera
olvidar que voy muriendo
en los días vacíos
de hazaña y aventura.
¡En el jardín de las Hermanas
Trifaldi no tendrán memoria
Y no sentir que soy
¡El mutante está infectado de tiempo!.
Merlín es el tiempo.
No nos hables
del tiempo, aquí
se viene para no sentir
las horas harán de mí
mi máscara fúnebre.
al jardín de los monstruos!
¡Nuestros monstruos no morirán
¡El ser sin sombra
y la sombra sin ser!
¡Arpías, extranjeros y centauros!
¡Vampiros e infelices!
¡El ángel exterminador y el ser
solo que era dos seres, a la vez
Bien y Mal! ¡Y este héroe
que convertido en viejo despertó
y come salpicón todas las noches!
de ese viejo.
¡Larga vida al jardín
de los monstruos!
Y que se lleve el tiempo
a quien tiene memoria, adonde tengan
mayor memoria de él.
Final page of the text of Act II, sent by fax during the summer of 1998, with handwritten indications by Justo Navarro
BARCELONA - REAL INTERCONTINENTAL CONGRESO
DON QUIJOTE DE LA MANCHA
En este día todo el mundo-
recuerda a don Quijote en Barcelona en este día-
Todo el mundo recuerda-
A don Quijote en Barcelona en este día-
Todo el mundo recuerda a don Quijote-
En Barcelona en este día-
Todo el mundo recuerda-
A don Quijote en Barcelona-
En este día todo el mundo-
Honor al Inter, el Inter,
Intercontinental Congreso Don Quijote
de la Mancha.
PRESIDENTE DEL CONGRESO
Su Majestad el Rey
inaugura el Real,
Intercontinental Congreso Don Quijote
de la Mancha.
¡Su Majestad el Rey!
Del Ser Humano honda figura, el más
idealista y más real, el más
alegre y el más triste, vicio
y grandeza de ánimo, heroísmo,
idealismo y símbolo del ser
universal y símbolo del ser
español, y materia
y espíritu, cabeza entre las nubes
y zapatos en tierra, universal
drama de todo tiempo, de todas las naciones y de todos
los hombres y mujeres, espíritu y materia, engaño y desengaño,
ilusión y desilusión,
el pasado, el presente, experiencia, inocencia,
realidad, apariencia. Pinta la diferencia
entre lo que concibe la mente, y ambiciona
el corazón, y el mundo da.
Del Ser Humano honda figura...
PRESIDENTE DEL CONGRESO Y VOCES
(Superponiéndose al Rey y entre sí)
¡Su Majestad, Su Santidad, Su Alteza,
dignatarios, embajadores, chóferes,
presidentes, palafreneros, más
chóferes, presidentes, secretarios,
subsecretarios y subsecretarios
de los subsecretarios, consejeros
y tramoyistas, más los Siete
Mil Setecientos Setenta y Siete Sabios del universo, estrellas
del Inter y Real, Continental
Congreso Don Quijote en Barcelona: Byron Irving Unamuno Smollet Byron Tieck Schlegel Unamuno Houdini Heine Unamuno Ortega Schlegel Cervantes Saavedra Bertuch Voltaire Avellaneda Calderón de la Barca Butler Defoe Cervantes Saavedra Marivaux Sterne Lennox Hazlitt Lukács Pasamonte Sterne Bajtin De los Ríos Richter Azorín Ganivet Spitzler Hatzfeld Kafka Faulkner Graves Mayans y Siscar Hegel Schopenhauer Auerbach Castro Sterne Pasamonte D'Alembert Valera Faulkner Menéndez Menéndez Dostoievski Swift Scott Fielding Von Voss Lessing Turgueniev Castro De Castro Cervantes Saavedra Houdini Carlyle Calderón de la Barca Purcell Lunacharsky Twain Melville Tirso de Molina Saint-Evremond Quevedo Casalduero Bataillon Maravall Falla Doctor Johnson Addison Schlegel Schelling Faulkner Flaubert Kafka Auden Manzoni Madariaga Riquer Rosales Riley Daudet Dickens Tolstoi Stendhal-
(El Congreso se va transformando en circo o cabaret)
- los más resplandecientes y diversos
y extraños personajes y figuras
que pudiera imaginarse juntos, el Demonio y la misma Muerte,
el Ángel y el Emperador,
la Reina y su Excelencia el Jefe Militar de la Casa del Rey,
un Cupido sin venda y con arco, saetas y carcaj,
quinientos Don Quijotes y un solo Sancho Panza,
toda la Compañía
de Comedias de Angulo el Malo, en la gran superproducción
Las Cortes de la Muerte, y yo, que hago
en esta compañía los primeros papeles,
yo mismo, en el papel
del mismo don Quijote
de la Mancha.
PRESIDENTE (EN EL PAPEL DE DON QUIJOTE)
Yo sé quién soy, y no soy
quien quiero ser, y lo sé:
aparente y fingido
como una comedia, emperador
de oropel y hoja de lata
en este bosque de humo.
Si el auténtico don Quijote
es ese don Quijote,
yo no soy el auténtico Ginés de Pasamonte,
y mi Golem Homúnculo de Praga
no acertará a deciros el nombre del auténtico,
único y verdadero autor
del más famoso libro de la historia.
PRESIDENTE (EN EL PAPEL DE DULCINEA)
Si no os gusta mi don Quijote
seré Dulcinea encantada.
Si Dulcinea fuera Dulcinea,
no os diría mi Homúnculo de Praga
del verdadero autor del Ingenioso
Hidalgo Don Quijote de la Mancha.
¡Honor al Inter-
¡Viva el Rey!
¡Somos científicos, no entertainers!
Mi Golem adivino Homúnculo de Praga
revelará el enigma de los Tres
Autores si nos pagan
tres veces más.
VOZ DE CONGRESISTA
¡Que calle el desquiciado!
El desquiciado dice
que el cielo de sus quicios
OTRA VOZ DE CONGRESISTA
Basta que digas
cómo has llegado a ser quien eres.
El desquiciado calla con la infinita autoridad
que da haber ido casi siempre
como Dios quiere y no como yo quiero,
ensartado en cadena
de hierro como cuenta
de collar, y haber sido soldado
en Italia, en Lepanto
¡Que calle esa voz de barril
-cautivo en Túnez y escritor
de mi vida.
que publique el Homúnculo
la identidad del único y auténtico
autor de Don Quijote, tan sabida.
El problema no es que un homúnculo
adivine el pasado. El verdadero
problema es si podría adivinar alguna cosa
un homúnculo o Golem
si todo lo adivina este Golem de Praga,
¿será desencantada Dulcinea?
Pregunta extraordinaria. Y no hay buenas respuestas
si no hay extraordinarias
es un arte.
Señor, este animal no da noticia
de las cosas que están
por venir; algo sabe
de las pasadas, y de las presentes
¿Quién es ése
que pregunta por mí?
Un Don Quijote, por supuesto.
VOZ DEL CONGRESO
Se han fabricado 3.320.700 quijotes estos días.
Cuando termine el Inter, Intercontinental de Barcelona,
estarán todos en rebajas.
Yo busco a Dulcinea, pero encuentro
únicamente monstruos, Dulcineas
encantadas, que nunca son
como yo quiero que sean.
Que nunca son como yo quiero que sean.
Es una enfermedad muy extendida
el maelncantamiento que describe
A mí me pasa
lo mismo exactamente con mi amante.
¿Podría nuestro Homúnculo
darnos el nombre del secreto
y verdadero autor de Don Quijote,
Quiero saber: ¿será
(Desembarazándose de la máscara-máquina de homúnculo)
Digo que es Sancho, Sancho Panza,
y éste es mi verdadero Don Quijote.
¡Dice que es Sancho Panza, que apartó
de sí a su demonio un día y le dio el nombre
de don Quijote!
Déjeme que le toque
los dientes, y que mire
cuántos le quedan, los quebrados
conmigo los perdió, mi único Don Quijote, lo más mío.
¿Será verdad que Sancho, Sancho, Sancho Panza
es el único autor de Don Quijote?
Por su deseo lo conozco.
Es el mayor amigo que en este mundo tengo;
y tanto, que lo tengo
en el lugar de mi persona.
Permita que lo abrace.
Este hombre fue el genuino escudero
Sancho Panza, que un día
perdió señor y perdió todo,
reducido a ser títere y homúnculo,
pobre Golem de Praga.
¡Señoras y señores, mesdames, messieurs,
ladies and gentlemen, ha llegado la escena del reconocimiento!
¡Benditos Don Quijote y Sancho!
¡Benditos sean Don Quijote y Sancho, que se encuentran
al cabo de los siglos
¡Somos científicos, y no entertainers!
¡Honor al Inter, el Inter,
Intercontinental Congreso Don Quijote
de la Mancha!
¡Calle la tartamuda
asamblea de maquillados
y enmascarados de sabiduría!
Basta de recordar. Diré el futuro,
pues vengo del futuro
y del pasado. Se desencajará
de sus quicios el cielo. ¿Qué día es hoy? ¿Qué hora es?
Faltan treinta segundos para la medianoche.
Veintinueve segundos, para ser más exacto.
Veintiocho faltaban hace un segundo; dos segundos,
Pues en treinta segundos el famoso
y futuro Huracán
de Barcelona nos devorará
Es de todo
punto imposible, por las condiciones
meteorológicas en sí mismas
Busco fuera la voz que me muta por dentro y me engaña los ojos y oídos,
y hasta el aire se vuelve prodigio y gigante que en aire se vuelve
si lo toco y me toca y yo mismo que soy caballero
sólo soy de repente cartón, hierro sucio y estopa manchada de tiempo.
Don Quijote, mi pobre don Quijote,
se estremece, se encoge, pierde
¡Por Dios, qué tragedia,
tanta Eminencia a punto de perderse!
Ninguno es de verdad: las Eminencias
mandan siempre a sus dobles
a funciones así.
¿Los chóferes también?
También los chóferes.
ustedes un auténtico huracán!
en sí misma la meteorología
(Silencio. Rumor de Huracán que se acerca. Oscuridad.)
DON QUIJOTE (en la oscuridad)
Me descuelgo en lo hondo, me empozo, me traga el abismo,
quito cuervos y grajos y matas y aparto muciélagos,
Dulcinea, por tí, y en lo hondo me espera un palacio
transparente, de puro cristal luminoso, y estoy en la cueva
donde está Montesinos, aquel que nacio entre alimañas.
(Luz. Regreso a la Cueva de Montesinos/Sala de subastas del primer acto .)
¡Protéjanse del tiempo amargo y dulce!
¡Qué veloz nos arrastra
la música del tiempo, estamos y no estamos
y volvemos a estar. ¡Protéjanse del tiempo!
¡Las mácaras! ¡Las máscaras!
Bienvenido a Ginebra, don Quijote,
el espejo, el farol, la estrella y norte
de toda la caballería andante.
DON QUIJOTE (Desde lo alto.)
¡Todo el mundo conoce a Don Quijote
en Ginebra, en Hong-Kong y en Barcelona!
Un monstruo tengo dentro de mí,
igual que cada uno.
Tengo dentro de mí la esperanza,
el horror de convertirme en otro.
Gracias, gracias, süave,
desocupado público, pues hacen
vuestros ojos y oídos que yo sea
mutante que se quita la careta
de Quijano, o Quesada, no me acuerdo,
para ponerse el yelmo de Mambrino.
Y de pronto descubro que he perdido
mi personalidad, mi cara, mi estatura.
Y siento un dolor más horrible
que el dolor de nacer y el dolor de morir.
suave gente que de camino va,
y me encuentra y me encanta y encantada
por mi máscara es.
Y del poco dormir y del mucho leer
acabo siendo otro, caballero andante.
Gracias, gracias, suave,
desocuupado público, pues hacen
vuestros ojos y oídos que yo sea.
Basta, no quiero ser jamás
siempre el mismo mutante, Don Quijote.
La construcción de una ópera hoy / The construction of an opera today By Juan Ángel Vela del Campo, Justo Navarro and José Luis Turina
Presentations included in the round table of the same title within the course Opera transcending its own limits, held during the "Summer Meetings 2003" of the University of Valladolid, and edited by the Buendía Center of the Vice President for Institutional Relations. Valladolid, July 2007.
D. Q. (Don Quijote en Barcelona) Por José Luis Turina y Justo Navarro
Presentations published within the book of the Cervantes and Don Quixote in Music conference, held at the Autonomous University of Madrid in October 2005. Madrid, October 2007
Sánchez García, Estrella La recepción de D.Q. (Don Quijote en Barcelona): Problemas en torno a la innovación de la ópera. (The reception of D.Q. Don Quijote in Barcelona-: Problems around opera innovation)
Initiation work on the research of the Doctoral Program Languages and artistic and literary manifestations of the Faculty of Philosophy and Letters of Madrid Autonomous University. Madrid, september 2012
D.Q. Don Quijote en Barcelona: análisis de la composición y de las tecnologías musicales y escenográficas en la ópera de José Luis Turina y La Fura dels Baus / D.Q. Don Quijote en Barcelona: analysis of the composition an the musical and scenographic technologies in the opera by José Luis Turina and La Fura dels Baus
By Sara Blanco Gárate
Master's Thesis in Artistic Teaching in New Technologies of Current Music: Creation and Interpretation (Chair of Composition of the Royal Conservatory of Music of Madrid), defended in September 2022
Front page of the website designed by La Fura dels Baus for the diffusion of the premiere of D. Q.
The Liceo will open its season with an opera by La Fura dels Baus
By Lourdes Morgades
(Article published in the newspaper El Pais. Madrid, May 6, 2000)
In its second year, the new Teatro del Liceo de Barcelona is preparing to consolidate and reach cruising speed after a first season of adaptation to the building. With a total of 10 operas, two more than the first year, four ballets, six concerts and nine recitals, the Liceo is betting on a new concept of opera, opening its 2000-2001 season on October 2 with D. Q., a work created by La Fura dels Baus and from whose dramaturgical concept José Luis Turina has composed the music.
The operatic season of the Liceu for 2000-2001 is based, in the words of Joan Matabosch, artistic director of the Barcelona lyrical coliseum, on four bases: "The traditional repertoire; the classical repertoire, unusual in programming; the opera of the 20th century, and newly created works". It is precisely with a new opera, signed by La Fura dels Baus and entitled D. Q. Don Quixote in Barcelona, with which the theater opens its season, which will run from next October 2 to July 15, 2001.
The work, as Matabosch explained yesterday, breaks the schemes of traditional opera with the desire to innovate in the genre. "The idea is original of La Fura dels Baus and it has been worked backwards. La Fura first conceived the dramaturgy and staging of the opera, then commissioned Justo Navarro to write the libretto and finally asked José Luis Turina to compose the score ". The artistic director denied that music was a secondary element in the work. "It is true that opera does not start from music, but music is fundamental," he assured.
Don Quixote walks the Internet
By Pablo Meléndez-Haddad
(Article published in the newspaper ABC Madrid, september 9, 2000)
The "D.Q." by La Fura dels Baus Invites spontaneous composers
"D.Q., Don Quijote in Barcelona," the opera that inaugurates the Liceo's season on October 2nd, has its own website, a format that not only allows the dissemination of the new work and its creation process but also gathers compositional ideas that will be applied in this world premiere.
When the Gran Teatro del Liceo raises its curtain for the opening of the season on October 2nd, a wave of modernity will take over the stage, the hall, and the eyes and ears of the audience. "D.Q., Don Quijote in Barcelona," the opera conceived by La Fura dels Baus and composer José Luis Turina to kick off the Liceo's season, will feature not only a cast of distinguished performers led by Josep Pons on the podium, the main associate conductor of the Gran Teatro, but also the most advanced theatrical, musical, and telematic technology.
WITHOUT DULCINEA Art and the Internet will also come together in the context of this world premiere, as the official website for this large-scale production was presented yesterday. "We're not only aiming to provide information about the opera and its theme," indicated Joan Matabosch, artistic director of the Liceo, "but we also intend to spread the process of creating the show, making it to some extent a collective creation, as the audience's involvement will be allowed, and the website will be a radically contemporary expression of what this opera is: The web will be to the opera what the opera is to Cervantes' work."
This "D.Q.," in practical reality, bears little resemblance to the Quijote imagined by Cervantes: there is no Dulcinea, no Sancho Panza, and no windmills. In the first of the three acts, the action takes place in Geneva -"the bank of banks," according to Carles Padrissa of La Fura- in the year 3014; then everything moves to Hong Kong in 3016, before ending in Barcelona in 2005, to which the protagonists are transported by means of a time machine. Don Quijote, both the character and his historical-cultural weight, along with all the symbolism it entails, serves as the pretext guiding the plot. One section of the "D.Q." website -available in Spanish, Catalan, and English, accessible at the address "wwww.liceubarcelona.com" and at "www.lafura.com"- allows users to freely download the FMOL program so that anyone interested can participate in composing six moments left open by the author in the score.
"People can submit music created by themselves using this software program, or if they prefer, silences. It will also be possible to modify other submitted proposals", Padrissa explains.
The opera's composer will then select what interests him, or mix the submissions, and apply them to the score at those six points that have been left open. Nevertheless, this possibility of cooperating in the "D.Q." score doesn't turn the spontaneous composer into a co-author of the music: "We may use certain collaborations in the first performance, but this could be changed in subsequent performances or even in possible future stagings of the work", Padrissa concluded.
The website also includes videos featuring interviews with the project's managers, as well as enabling live streaming of some rehearsal sessions of the production from September 25th to 29th, from six to seven in the evening, through the Internet.
A Mutant Quixote Travelling Through Time
By Marino Rodríguez
(Article published in the newspaper La Vanguardia. Barcelona, September 9, 2000)
As expected from La Fura del Baus, their "Don Quixote" has little to do with the original and also with the other new opera about the character that Cristóbal Halffter (music) and Herbert Wernicke (stage direction) premiered last February at the Teatro Real. La Fura's version is a "mutant Quixote, a kind of monster that travels through time" - according to Ollé - through places populated by strange contraptions (a dirigible-cage, a large table-locator of ancient wonders, flying chairs, metallic trees, immortal characters, or airborne ads like "Blade Runner").
The first act takes place in a bank in Geneva in the year 3014, where an auction is held for something no one knows about, a Don Quixote from 1604. The second act is set in Hong Kong in 3016, in a forest-amusement park owned by the Trifaldi twins-sisters, where Don Quixote is exhibited among other "galactic monsters." However, he is not well received there, so in the final act, he is sent to Barcelona in 2005, where a conference about him takes place. There, he will see how all the "living statues" imitate him or how a gigantic wave will flood La Rambla.
La Fura shares with internet users the creation of their futuristic "D.Q." for the Liceu
The countdown has begun for the presentation of what is expected to be one of the highlights of the Barcelona cultural season: the world premiere of the opera "D.Q. (Don Quixote in Barcelona)", with music by José Luis Turina and staged by La Fura dels Baus, which will open the 2000-2001 program at the Liceu on October 2. Strong advocates of renewing opera using new technologies, La Fura has decided to fully utilize the most popular of these technologies, the Internet, in their new foray into the world of opera. Just two days after rehearsals began at the theater of La Rambla, they publicly presented a comprehensive website (accessible from www.liceubarcelona.com or www.lafura.com) through which they will share the creation of "D.Q." with internet users worldwide, adding a touch of modernity and futurism to a show that these adjectives fit perfectly.
The "D.Q." website allows not only to learn almost all the "secrets" of the project but also to see a brief visual version of the opera, follow video rehearsals of the production at the Liceu (live streaming is scheduled for days 25, 26, 27, 28, and 29, from 18 to 19 hours) and even participate in the composition of some of the musical passages of the show. The documentary section of the website ("Opera at the Liceu") includes the sections "Concepts D.Q." - with texts about the genesis of the project, the libretto, the score, and the staging - "Making-off" - with videos about the production, the creators, the objects involved in the show, and the construction itself - and "Video on-line," from which the transmission of the rehearsals and the press conference that the creators of "D.Q." will offer on the 28th at 12 o'clock can be followed.
The other major section of the website ("Opera on the Web") includes a "Time-Line" version of the work (with virtual recreations of the main scenes, including Turina's musical model for them) and a system for any Internet user to participate in the soundtrack of the work. For this purpose, the ingenious FMOL software is provided for free, a kind of virtual harp with which electronic sounds are created by simply pressing its strings with the PC mouse.
The internet user can create their own compositions - or modify those of others - for six scenes of the work, which in total last about ten minutes. The compositions -all one minute long- will be mixed before the premiere and will resonate at the Liceu thanks to a sophisticated amplification system.
A Collective Opera
In anticipation of the impact -which is believed to be strong- that "D.Q." will have on the current operatic scene, it is clear that its genesis already gives it great uniqueness. Unlike the usual process -where a librettist and a composer create an opera, and then it is decided who and how it will be brought to the stage-, "D.Q." is perhaps the first collective opera in which the music composer -José Luis Turina-, the writer of the text, Justo Navarro, and Carles Padrissa and Álex Ollé, leaders of La Fura dels Baus, initial authors of the project and stage directors, have worked together from the beginning, sharing ideas. Other creators who have left their mark on the project are architects Enric Miralles -recently deceased- and his wife, Benedetta Tagliabue, who designed the set, or Emmanuel Carlier, who has made various video recordings used in the production.
Interactive opera arrives at the Liceu
By Marta Cervera
(Article published in the newspaper El Periódico de Cataluña. Barcelona, September 9, 2000)
Internet users will be able to participate in the creation of the music for D.Q. Don Quijote in Barcelona) / The futuristic production devised by La Fura dels Baus will open the theater's season on October 2nd.
Yesterday, the Liceu presented its first interactive opera, DQ Don Quijote in Barcelona, a world premiere conceived by La Fura dels Baus, with a libretto by Justo Navarro and music by José Luis Turina, which will inaugurate the new theater season on October 2nd. The Liceu Symphony Orchestra, conducted by Josep Pons, will perform the work.
The websites of the theater (www.liceubarcelona.com) and the theater company (www.lafura.com) will allow anyone who wishes to compose music through the Faust Music On Line (FMOL) application, which La Fura already used in their show "Faust-Versión 03" two years ago. "Opera is a good breeding ground for new creators because it is an art that encompasses different disciplines", commented Carles Padrissa, a member of La Fura who has been working on D.Q. Don Quijote in Barcelona for three years. He added that the Internet opens the door to "collective creation". La Fura entered the world of opera with Atlántida by Falla, and this is their fourth production following Debussy's El Martirio de San Sebastián and Berlioz's La condenación de Fausto.
Padrissa defined his Quijote as "a vampire of time". "It's a kind of monster", he added, "a mutant that is inspired not only by Cervantes' character but also by the echoes it has produced".
The work is structured in three acts and takes place in a very distant future. The action begins in Geneva, where several plutocrats who collect art gather. During an auction, they discover a "unique object", the book of Don Quijote.
A family from Hong Kong acquires the object and exhibits it in a theme park, but they soon discover a monster in the character of Don Quijote and get rid of him. The time machine will be responsible for sending him to the place and time where the most memory of him remains.
In the third act, Don Quijote magically lands in Barcelona in 2005, where a conference on the knight of the sad figure is taking place. However, his arrival on La Rambla goes unnoticed, as those who usually work in the heart of the city have taken on his appearance for the symposium on the Cervantine character.
It's not necessary to be a professional to play the FMOL, an instrument that sounds in real time with the help of a mouse. It's a sound tool that its creators define as a hybrid between a harp (sounds are produced by stretching the strings with the mouse) and an oscilloscope (the strings constantly redraw the sound).
The electroacoustic compositions that arrive on the web will be edited before being introduced in six brief moments of the production. Internet users will be able to decide in which scene to participate by viewing virtual images of the work on the page. They will also find extensive documentation about the creation of the production, with videos and texts in Spanish, Catalan, and English. Additionally, they can follow the general rehearsals of the work live from September 25th to 29th, from six to seven in the evening. "The website will allow us to showcase a radically contemporary expression of opera", said Joan Matabosch, artistic director of the Liceu.
Enigmatic Don Quijote at the Liceu
By Mauricio Bach
(Commentary within an interview with Justo Navarro published in the newspaper La Vanguardia. Barcelona, September 12, 2000)
On October 2nd, the Liceu opens its season with the world premiere of "D. Q., Don Quijote in Barcelona," with a libretto by Justo Navarro, music by José Luis Turina, production by La Fura dels Baus, and set design by Enric Miralles. "I imagined," says the author, "a Don Quijote whom no one knew, a true stranger, who had fulfilled or was about to fulfill the destiny of all human things: absolute oblivion. I supposed he is a foreigner. Or a mutant, someone who undergoes a transformation into a knight-errant, like Jekyll-Hyde or the insect Samsa: someone who is an admirable curiosity, comparable and marketable, but who can also repel for not being part of the group of equals."
Digital art intervenes in the opera that opens the Liceo season
By R. Bosco and S. Caldana
(Article published in the newspaper El País. Barcelona, September 14, 2000)
'Don Quixote in Barcelona' by La Fura dels Baus includes music sent by Internet users
The Gran Teatro del Liceo is also firmly committed to the avant-garde and new technologies, and it does so by opening the new season, on October 2, with Don Quixote in Barcelona, an opera conceived and staged by La Fura dels Baus. The Catalan theater group, which has spent years investigating the creative and communicative potential of the Internet, has given this new medium an important role on this occasion as well, creating a documentary, fictional and participatory website at the same time.
"Documentary because, through short texts and videos of the montage, it helps to facilitate understanding of the process of conception, creation and development of the opera. Fiction because in the microcosm of the time-line it recreates all the acts and scenes of DQ in a visual, textual and sound synthesis, using the language of the web Participatory because all Internet users are invited to contribute their creations to the project of collective composition of audio fragments that will be integrated into the music of the opera composed by José Luis Turina", explain the authors of Don Quixote on the Internet, KTON and CIA, alias Sergi Jordà, physicist, programmer, musician and computer creator, and Cristina Casanova, photographer, designer, multimedia artist and composer of electronic music.
The sound contributions of Internet users, which cannot exceed one minute in length, can be made using an improved version of the FMOL software, conceived by Jordà in 1997 for another work by La Fura, Faust 3.0. "FMOL allows users to become sound sculptors. All you need is an Internet connection and a 10,000 peseta sound card. The music is composed in real time, by moving the mouse in an abstract interface. The compositions are not closed, but evolutionary. FMOL is an instrument of collective creation: it is not just a question of sending pieces, but of listening to those that exist, modifying them and reloading them, so that the new piece remains hanging as a child of the previous one. The first version admitted four generations, but in this one there can be up to eight, and each composition can have infinite children", explains Jordà.
The call will remain open until the 22nd and then the compositions will be mixed in the six FMOL Minutes, six moments in which the sounds of Internet users will fill the Liceo. Each fragment and its meaning in the opera as a whole is explained and can also be understood from the chronological navigation of the digital opera, called time-line. After the 22nd the FMOL will remain active for all those who want to touch it. Web users can also participate in the soundtrack of the Hong Kong commercial, which will be screened at the beginning of the second act. To do this, they must download the video in Quicktime, add sound to it using the program they prefer and reload their composition in MP3. All the steps to follow are clearly explained and FMOL's interface manages to appeal to experienced electronic music composers as well as casual users.
The digital opera or time-line is based on the libretto and consists of a summary of the scene, followed by fragments of the text, images and small animations that are easily loaded, making navigation quick and entertaining. "This is a linear development website, which tells a story with a beginning and an end, using a symbolic and synthetic language. Our goal is to contribute to the understanding of the work and we do not agree with projects that, in order to avoid of a linear development, they remain in pure formalism", concludes Cristina Casanova, who has designed the web.
Finally, in its effort to bring the opera closer to a wider audience, the Liceo will broadcast the general rehearsals and the presentation press conference live on the web.
Don Quixote travels to the future at the Liceo
By Lourdes Morgades
(Article published in the newspaper El País. Madrid, September 24, 2000)
La Fura dels Baus premieres in Barcelona its multimedia opera on Cervantes' novel.
"A new way of doing opera". This is how Joan Matabosch, artistic director of the Liceo theater in Barcelona, defines D. Q. Don Quixote in Barcelona, the multimedia opera conceived by the theater group La Fura dels Baus, with music by the Madrid composer José Luis Turina and a libretto by the Granada-born writer Justo Navarro, which next September 30th it premieres at the Barcelona lyrical coliseum. Engine of the work and agglutinating ideas, La Fura takes the famous character from Cervantes to the 31st century on an amazing journey through the future wrapped in a spectacular staging.
D.Q. Don Quixote in Barcelona has won, before its premiere, the eternal battle of the public's generalized rejection of a contemporary opera. Only a few hundred tickets remain at the box office six days before the premiere for the nine performances planned by the Liceo theater, with capacity for 2,380 spectators. The success has surprised the company itself. "We were convinced that it would generate interest, but to fill nine performances in a world premiere of an opera is a dream never imagined", admits Joan Matabosch. "A pike in Flanders", notes the composer, José Luis Turina.
The magician who has turned this unimaginable dream into a reality is none other than La Fura dels Baus. It does not hurt the Madrid composer to admit that, sold only as an opera by José Luis Turina, D.Q. Don Quixote in Barcelona would not drag the more than 20,000 people who will see the work live at the Barcelona lyrical coliseum to the Lyceum. "The lack of connection between the public and the musical creator is very great, and I have insisted on making the most of this opportunity that they have given me," he assures.
The great novelty that this opera brings to the lyrical genre today is its creation process, which started from an idea dramatized by La Fura dels Baus with three basic elements for its development: Don Quixote, Barcelona and the future, to subsequently seek a composer to create the music and a writer to write the libretto. Does this mean that the authorship of the opera should be attributed to La Fura dels Baus? The answer from Àlex Ollé and Carles Padrissa, responsible for the Catalan theater group and for directing the production, as well as that of the composer José Luis Turina and the writer Justo Navarro, is blunt: "No". "On a creative level, the authorship is joint. It has been a work in perfect symbiosis, which has required, at least on my part, a great exercise in humility, adjusting my work rhythm to that imposed by Justo writing the libretto and sticking to my music to a pre-established theme that I did not choose, but with which I agree", says Turina, who claims to feel a strange sensation at having been "fully satisfied" with his work. "Something that has almost never happened to me," he admits.
Josep Pons, musical director of D. Q. Don Quixote in Barcelona, defines La Fura dels Baus as "a modern Diaghilev". "Like the Russian impresario and artistic director, they have the virtue of creating elements and combining them. They are the engine of this opera, the varnish capable of unifying everything with their energy," says the conductor. "Working with La Fura is a stimulus," says Justo Navarro. "They say that they are going to contaminate the opera, and it is true: its aesthetics are contaminating".
Since the premiere, in the summer of 1996 at the Granada Festival, of its staging of Manuel de Falla's cantata La Atlántida, La Fura dels Baus began to think about the idea of creating an opera. "After Atlántida, Gérard Mortier, director of the Salzburg Festival, proposed that we take responsibility for an operatic staging, and even then we had the idea that, apart from staging existing operas, we wanted to create a new one". Explains Carles Padrissa. "We wanted to bring opera as a genre closer to our own language", points out Àlex Ollé, who clarifies that it was he who, without a theme yet chosen, decided that the action of the work would take place in the future.
With the idea that the theme of the opera would revolve around a Spanish myth, the figure of Don Quixote did not appear on the scene until, by chance, a children's book from the sixties entitled Don Quixote in Barcelona fell into Padrissa's hands. "I didn't even know that Cervantes, at the end of the second part of the book, made Don Quixote travel to Barcelona, but we already had a theme: Don Quixote, the future and Barcelona," says the person in charge of La Fura dels Baus.
José Luis Turina and Justo Navarro, Ollé and Padrissa joined the creative process with the Barcelona architect Enric Miralles, who passed away on July 3 and to whom the opera is dedicated. "We wanted a set with a futuristic aspect, and, after three operas with Jaume Plensa, in this one we thought of an architect to work with the space", explains Ollé.
To round off the spectacular nature of the production, in which a zeppelin appears in the second act, which is already an emblem of the work, La Fura uses video projections, turning the entire ensemble into a multimedia opera.
From 17th to 31st century
Created by Miguel de Cervantes at the beginning of the 17th century, "the hidalgo of those with a lance in the shipyard, an old shield, a skinny nag and a running greyhound" travels in D. Q. Don Quixote in Barcelona to the 31st century. That is where Justo Navarro places him in the first two acts of the opera, after he and José Luis Turina convinced La Fura dels Baus of the inappropriateness of recreating a passage from the novel in the future.
In the first act of the opera Don Quixote appears at a Geneva auction house in the year 3014, where he has been transported by an antiquities locator machine to be sold to the highest bidder. After being exhibited, in the second act, as a carnival monster on the terrace of a skyscraper in Hong Kong in the year 3016, he is transported to the Barcelona of 2004, where an international congress is held to commemorate the 400th anniversary of the first edition of Don Quixote de la Mancha..
"I wanted to represent in the future the current estrangement of the character of Cervantes. Does anyone still read it?" Navarro asks. "Don Quixote is a myth and as such has many faces. I have wanted to see that of a Don Quixote, today remote for many. An antique that can be traded, a rarity with which a show can be put on in a garden of monsters or in an international congress of literature. And also a different being that can be rejected and despised".
Josep Pons. «'Don Quijote' is a great adventure»
By Marta Cervera
(Interview published in the newspaper El Periódico de Cataluña. Barcelona, September 25, 2000)
"Next Saturday, Pons will conduct D.Q. (Don Quijote in Barcelona), a futuristic opera by La Fura dels Baus with music by José Luis Turina and libretto by Justo Navarro. The production will open the season at the Liceu", said Joan Matabosch, artistic director of the Liceu.
Josep Pons will conduct the fourth opera staged by La Fura del Baus, D. Q (Don Quijote in Barcelona), a world premiere with music by José Luis Turina -grandson of composer Joaquín Turina (1882-1949)- and libretto by Justo Navarro. The piece will open the Liceu's season next Saturday in a special performance for the theater's patrons. Pons, who has conducted symphonic music at the La Rambla coliseum and opera during the Liceu's exile seasons, is now making his opera directorial debut at the new theater with this contemporary multimedia production. He previously collaborated with La Fura on Atlántida, which marked the company's operatic debut.
- Would you compare the work to any other production?
- I don't think there's any direct comparison, although it has a traditional structure: there are arias, dialogues, and passages of orchestral music. There are also certain nods to other operas, something common in the genre, with touches of The Marriage of Figaro and Parsifal. But don't expect the classic chim pum ending.
- You're working with Turina's music. Do you find it difficult?
- Not really. It's rather personal. It has its own language and is virtuosic, both vocally and orchestrally. But the virtuosity is never gratuitous; it serves to identify the characters. The work lies on the border of tonality and isn't solely based on effects; it has harmonic discourse.
- How is Don Quijote, a character from centuries ago, treated?
- He's the only element from the past that appears in the production, a futuristic opera, and that's reflected in the accompanying music, which is basically tonal in contrast to the rest, where tonal boundaries blur.
- Is it faithful to Miguel de Cervantes' classic?
- Many references from the work can be found, although it doesn't strictly follow the steps of "Don Quijote." Even though La Fura has created a new storyline, there are numerous references within its core.
- What do you think of the introduction of brief passages of electroacoustic music sent by Internet users?
- D. Q is a great adventure, partly because it's breaking new ground. But these incorporations are minimal. We've also recorded three minutes with the orchestra and choir because it was necessary to synchronize the music with a projection.
- In 1999, La Fura impressed with La damnation de Faust in Salzburg. What's the key to their success?
- Their way of understanding opera. They've embraced it without giving up any of their own language, which is powerful, modern, and conceptual. That's their merit.
- Their approach seems like the future, will others imitate them?
- I'm convinced of that. Their work is highly creative and different from anything done before. They're exploring various fronts and drawing from diverse sources. They've formed a very tight-knit team.
- What would you highlight about the creative process of this production?
- All of us have been deeply involved from the first meeting with the composer, the set designer, and the librettist, over two years ago. It's not like when you meet the stage director on the first day of rehearsals and everything depends on the chemistry that emerges. Here, working as a team has been crucial.
La Fura denounces that the Liceo has prohibited a scene from "Don Quixote"
(News published in the newspaper El País. Madrid, September 28, 2000)
The management of the Lyceum has forced La Fura dels Baus to remove a scene from the D. Q. Don Quixote in Barcelona production in which a Spanish and a Catalan flag were burned, as reported last night by Carlos Padrissa, co-founder of this Catalan theater company. Don Quixote will be premiered next Saturday. It is a show by La Fura dels Baus with music by José Luis Turina that will open the Liceo season.
Speaking to Com Radio, Padrissa stated that in the withdrawn scene, an actor "burned a Spanish flag, and when he was making the symbol of victory, he realized that the Spanish flag was joined to the Catalan one, which was also being burning". According to Padrissa, when the character tried to put out the fire "he would burn himself".
Padrissa explained that the objective of the censored scene was to show "different photographs of the plural reality of Barcelona". Despite the fact that for its premiere at the Liceo they had to suppress the scene, Padrissa pointed out: "We'll do it later, when the work is done in another place". In Padrissa's opinion, "the staging of Don Quixote in Barcelona is not complete without the scene that has been withdrawn".
La Fura dels Baus retracts having accused the Liceo of censoring a scene from "Don Quixote"
By Lourdes Morgades
(Article published in the newspaper El País. Madrid, September 29, 2000)
Fireworks or, in his own words, simple "gunpowder" have turned out to be the accusations made by Carles Padrissa, co-founder of the group La Fura dels Baus, made to a radio station last Wednesday night, according to which the Teatro del Liceo of Barcelona had censored a scene from its staging of the opera D. Q. Don Quixote in Barcelona, which premieres tomorrow, because two flags were being burned, one Spanish and the other Catalan. The artistic director of the Lyceum, Joan Matabosch, assured this newspaper that Padrissa intended to "provoke a little and create an atmosphere with a view to the premiere."
Matabosch explained that, by mutual agreement, the Liceo and La Fura dels Baus decided several weeks ago to suppress two scenes. "The Liceo has not bought a montage from La Fura dels Baus and then has decided to eliminate some scenes. The Liceo is the producer of this operatic montage and has a say in the decisions, which have been made by mutual agreement. The word censorship is inappropriate because nothing has been censored".
The total cost of the production, co-produced by the Liceo with the Teatro de la Maestranza in Seville and the International Foundation for a History of European Civilization, amounts to 166 million pesetas, of which 116 have been invested in the spectacular scenery conceived by the Barcelona architect Enric Miralles, who died last July, Benedetta Tagliabue and La Fura, with costumes by Chu Uroz.
Yesterday at the presentation to the media of D. Q. Don Quixote in Barcelona, the opera conceived by the theater group with music by the composer José Luis Turina and a libretto by the writer from Granada Justo Navarro, Carles Padrissa assured that in the third act, which takes place in La Rambla of Barcelona in 2004, they wanted to show in detail all the diversity of the famous avenue. "The Rambla of July 18, 1936, that of the Diada of September 11, that of a Barça victory... We wanted to show a photo of the ramblas", explained the co-director of the theater group. "In this act we had thought to show a scene in which a person, whose face could not be seen, burned a Spanish flag and with it a Catalan one to which it was attached, and in the end the person was burned in the action Since we don't do it because the general director of the Lyceum, Josep Caminal, has told us that burning a flag is not right, I wanted, with my statements, to recreate the scene virtually".
Another scene that will not be seen is the release of pigeons at the beginning of the third act together with a fine rain of drops of mineral water on the public. "No one would know if it was mineral water or the pigeons," Padrissa joked. Matabosch said the scene has been cut due to the great difficulty in recovering the pigeons afterwards. The Liceo already had problems with a series of pigeons launched at the tribute concert to Montserrat Caballé in January 1987, on the occasion of the 25th anniversary of her debut in the theater. Three days later, the pigeons were still fluttering around the theater seriously endangering the integrity of the upholstery of the seats and the costumes of the public that attended the performances.
Carles Padrissa finished off the song by praising the Liceo's courage for opening the season with this production. "Their thing is daring. They have had a great courage with La Fura dels Baus, an animal that is difficult to tame," he said. D. Q. Don Quixote in Barcelona, with which the Liceo opens its second season in the new theater tomorrow, will be performed until October 10 in a total of nine performances. The opera, set in its first two acts in the distant future, the 31st century, draws a series of parallels between the action it narrates and Cervantes' novel, established in the libretto by Justo Navarro. The writer assured yesterday: "The opera is a work about time. We are used to seeing Don Quixote as a myth infected by time and that is what I reflect in the libretto."
The opera, sung in Spanish and subtitled so that no detail of the plot escapes, has the musical direction of Josep Pons, a cast of Spanish singers, except for the two baritones who alternate in the main role of Don Quixote , the Austrian Michael Kraus and the American Ned Barth, and the collaboration of the Chamber Choir of the Palau de la Música Catalana, directed by Jordi Casas. The absence of the Liceo's titular choir was justified yesterday by the theater's artistic director, citing the density of important works scheduled for the season and the need to spend time preparing them. "It couldn't do them all and it was decided to delete this one from his calendar." Matabosch requested by the inconsistency on the part of the theater to grant great importance to the premiere of D. Q. Don Quixote in Barcelona and exclude the titular choir from it, he limited himself to saying: "The Liceo Choir is ready to sing Aida".
The complicity that has been created throughout the rehearsals in the artistic team that prepares the opera makes the baritones Michael Kraus and Ned Barth, as well as the tenor Francisco Vas, who plays the character of the Auctioneer, affirm that everyone has worked with great enthusiasm. "It will be a controversial montage that will not leave anyone indifferent. La Fura wants the public to react," Vas assured this newspaper.
"The music is a great agile parody", says Turina
"For me, opera is theater set to music." This is how the composer José Luis Turina (Madrid, 1952) defines his concept of the lyrical genre. "I have tried to put my music at the service of the libretto, to accompany it. I have allowed myself to be permeated by all the ideas, those of Justo Navarro and those of La Fura dels Baus. If Don Quixote is a book that parodies other books and under which lies the reality of a character and his drama, the music I have composed is a great, very agile parody, which follows the action with flexibility, which allows itself to be impregnated and infected with time, which is none other than tonal music".
"In the present we are not aware of the passage of time. Therefore, if the passage of time represents Don Quixote, the vocal treatment of the character is that of tonal music; that does not mean an archaic musical language of the time in which the novel was written", explains the composer. "The rest of the music, which represents the other characters, is current, which does not mean avant-garde or radical music. This contrast of languages aims to create that impossible synthesis of the tradition represented by Don Quixote and the reality represented by the rest of characters".
Throughout the score, Turina presents a set of cultured operatic references with quotes, some more obvious than others, from passages from operas such as Tristan and Isolde, The Marriage of Figaro, Der Rosenkavalier, Rhinegold, Madama Butterfly and Master Peter's puppet show, among others, or fragments referring to storms from symphonic works.
The alteration of the stage to mount the scenography, which forces to go beyond its strict limits to expand the space below, 16 meters deep, on the sides and the back, has forced in various passages to artificially reinforce the sound so that it can reach to the singers, especially in the internal scenes.
The Singing Knight Errant
by Jordi Casanovas
(Article published in the newspaper El Periódico de Cataluña. Barcelona, September 29, 2000)
The unraveller of injustices created by Miguel de Cervantes returns to Barcelona through the hands of La Fura dels Baus, inaugurating the second season of the new Liceu with an innovative production featuring music by José Luis Turina
Jorge Luis Borges gave birth to an extraordinary character, Pierre Menard, obsessed with the improbable task of reproducing El Quijote from start to finish, not merely copying it, but regenerating it point by point: the words had to be the same, identical, yet enriched with new meanings from the centuries that have passed. "My enterprise is not essentially difficult. It would be enough to be immortal to be able to carry it out," wrote Menard.
More modest in their ambitions, Álex Ollé and Carles Padrissa of La Fura dels Baus, three years ago, sought the collaboration of the writer Justo Navarro, the composer José Luis Turina, and the architect Enric Miralles, who recently passed away, among other creators from various fields, with the goal of reimagining, in an opera, the myth of the Manchegan knight. They avoided any hint of literalness to preserve what is most essential in the matter, what makes Don Quijote an eternal character: the pathetic and heroic struggle of a poor man with his ghosts, his aspiration to a higher life, which ultimately overcomes him, and the final, predictable clash with reality.
Guided by the aforementioned artists and the musical director Josep Pons, and under the auspices of Liceu and the Teatro de la Maestranza in Seville, co-producers of the production, Don Quijote now returns to Barcelona, rescued from the current of time by an antiquities locator, to collide once again with reality: the Rambla and a congress of Cervantes scholars.
PARODY UPON PARODY "Cervantes' Don Quijote was a fierce parody of the chivalry books of his time, and the aspect of farce concealed a tremendous psychological drama", affirms José Luis Turina. "Similarly, our D.Q. is a parody of the original myth, meant to be the starting point of a reflection on the human condition". In this version, the constant Cervantine interplay between reality and fiction, and between the character and its creator, is reiterated; here, the creator turns out to be Ginesillo de Pasamonte, a galley slave liberated by Don Quijote.
For this ambitious opera that inaugurates the new Liceu's second season, José Luis Turina -grandson of Joaquín Turina, born in Madrid but musically educated in Barcelona- has crafted a score in which tonal writing alternates and contrasts with contemporary forms. Don’t fear, fervent fans of melody. "The literary character externalizes its nostalgia for the past by adopting an anachronistic language, and ours sings arias", explains the composer. "In D.Q., Don Quijote's internal drama translates into music through an impossible synthesis of traditional and contemporary languages".
For La Fura dels Baus, this is their first original operatic creation, although they had previously staged three classical titles by Falla, Debussy, and Berlioz. Turina made his debut in the operatic sphere in 1983 with Ligazón, a chamber work based on a text by Ramón del Valle-Inclán. "This first attempt convinced me that the operatic genre was too complex to tackle before reaching sufficient maturity", he states. "It was beneficial for me to reflect calmly on the relationship between music and spoken language, in order to develop different approaches from the traditional bel canto".
The creation of D.Q. hasn't followed the usual composition patterns. "From the very beginning, it has been the result of teamwork", explains Turina. "The music emerged as the libretto progressed. Adapting to an externally imposed rhythm has brought a special tension, but at the same time, it has given the music a spontaneity and linearity it wouldn't have had if I had composed it solely on my own".
A COLLECTIVE CREATION
The score composed by José Luis Turina presents gaps into which contributions from Internet users have been integrated through the work's website, hosted on the page of the Gran Teatre del Liceu (http://www.liceubarcelona.com). Up until last week, all those who wanted -those who had the means- could participate in the music of D.Q. through an easily executable software called FMOL (Faust Music On Line), developed by the computer creator and musician Sergi Jordà for a previous Fura show, Fausto 3.0.
The underlying philosophy of La Fura dels Baus' project in this opera with a hint of collective creation is clear: "The increasing use of digital tools and the ease of access to information may be changing the rigid concept of authorship that still prevails in music and other arts". Jordà writes on the mentioned website. "Digital data are perfectly cloneable, which leads us directly to piracy, but they are also manipulable. When this information is released to a public and easily accessible medium, such as the Internet, its development possibilities multiply, enhancing all sorts of redefinition".
As Turina explains, "the collective creation takes form in five one-minute electroacoustic fragments, plus an additional half-minute of silence laden with content, very poetic, which the loudspeakers will emit at the end of the work". However, the composer has also created a "closed" version of the score with the aim of making it viable for other productions.
The Liceo censors "Don Quixote" by La Fura
by Luis M. Mendizábal
(Article published in Diario 16. Barcelona, September 29, 2000)
A scene in which a flag was burned has been removed from Don Quixote in Barcelona, the multimedia opera that premieres tomorrow.
There are almost no tickets left for the nine scheduled performances of Don Quixote in Barcelona, an avant-garde opera opening the season at the Barcelona Liceo this Saturday, which has generated unprecedented excitement. With music by José Luis Turina and a libretto by the Granada-born writer Justo Navarro, the theatrical group La Fura dels Baus, who conceived the idea and are responsible for the stage direction, have become the main attraction of an innovative project not without its risks. "We have bet on a completely new opera, starting from scratch, which can be considered a collective work", said Joan Matabosch, artistic director of the Liceo.
But two days before the world premiere of the work, controversy has arisen as it became public that the responsible parties at the Barcelona venue decided not to include a planned scene. "It's a scene in which a man burns a Spanish flag on Las Ramblas and, while making the victory sign, realizes that the flag is connected to the Catalan one. When he tries to extinguish the fire, he ends up burning himself", explained Carles Padrissa of La Fura. Meanwhile, Matabosch avoided controversies. "I think the work is good enough to focus attention on a minor incident", he stated. Both sides tried to downplay the matter. Padrissa added, ironically, "The scene came about because in the third act, which coincides with Don Quixote's visit to Barcelona, we wanted to portray reality, plurality, taking Las Ramblas as a symbol, as an escape valve from a great metropolis. The flag scene was just another aspect of this reality we wanted to faithfully portray". "In a way, we understand why they removed it because burning a flag is not a good thing", he added with irony.
Another scene, in which doves appeared while drops of water splashed the audience, has also been removed. The idea for the work, divided into three acts, was conceived when Padrissa found a booklet discussing Don Quixote's adventures in Barcelona. After experiences in the realm of opera, such as La Damnation de Faust, the theatrical group decided to create a modern opera about the myth created by Cervantes, a work they have placed in the future.
The first act depicts the city of Geneva in the year 3014, transformed into an auction house where iconic objects of our culture are offered. A "locator of antiques" brings Don Quixote into this world. In the second act, set in Hong Kong two years later, a millionaire acquires the character to exhibit him as a sideshow attraction. The spectacle of the production is evident with the appearance of a large zeppelin on stage. Don Quixote reclaims his literary identity and travels to Barcelona, where a Cervantes congress is taking place, in search of an adventurous life.
In Barcelona, deep into the third act, the knight-errant confronts reality, accompanied by a chimpanzee embodying his loyal Sancho Panza. A violent hurricane marks the beginning of the end for the character, who is terrified and aware of his inability to confront this reality. As Justo Navarro, the author of the text, stated, "Don Quixote in Barcelona is an opera about time. We wanted to create a character contaminated, infected by time".
Co-produced by the Gran Teatre del Liceu, the Teatro de la Maestranza in Seville, and two foreign entities, the opera has an approximate budget of 170 million pesetas.
Internet users have contributed to the music
For José Luis Turina, the composer of the score, the experience has been unique. He had to select 160 musical clips sent by Internet users, all of which will be included in the work at specific moments.
"It's possibly the first opera that didn't start from a proposal by a musician but rather responds to a joint project that has had a three-year gestation process", explained José Luis Turina at the presentation of Don Quixote in Barcelona.
The Madrid-born composer, grandson of the creator of La Adúltera Penitente, who composed the score "to reflect the structure of Cervantes' novel in the music", described the music of this opera as "lively, with a great sense of humor. It's clearly tonal music, with one part having historical connotations and another presenting a more contemporary language. The score aims to be a synthesis of these two worlds, the past and the future where the action unfolds". Don Quixote in Barcelona will be directed by Josep Pons. Baritones Michael Kraus and Ned Barth (the latter performing on October 3, 5, 6, and 10) will portray the Cervantine myth. The opera is dedicated to the recently deceased architect Enric Miralles, who created the set design alongside Italian Benedetta Tagliabue.
La Fura accepts Liceu's censorship in the play "Don Quixote"
by Ana María Dávila
(Article published in the newspaper El Mundo of the 21st century. Madrid, September 29, 2000)
An actor with a mask was burning a Spanish flag and a Catalan flag.
The premiere of the highly anticipated operatic production by La Fura dels Baus, D.Q. Don Quixote in Barcelona, which opens the Liceu's season tomorrow, has been surrounded by controversy: censorship by the theater's management of a scene in which two flags were burned, one Spanish and one Catalan.
"We thought that the opera audience, which is the most cultured, would have the sensitivity to understand it", argued Carles Padrissa, one of the members of the Catalan group, who, despite the cuts, assured that the show will go on at the Liceu tomorrow.
Josep Caminal, the General Director of the Gran Teatre del Liceu, has asked La Fura dels Baus to remove the scene from the third act of D.Q. in which a Spanish and a Catalan flag were burned. And they have accepted. Or rather, they have postponed it for a better occasion. "Perhaps we will do it someday, although not doing it now does not detract from the work, which will still be just as good", Padrissa commented yesterday.
The theater management has also requested the removal of another scene in which a fine rain of water fell on the audience. Josep Caminal, the theater's General Director, did not respond to repeated calls from this newspaper to explain the decision.
The censored scene from the third act of the show featured dancer Abraham Hurtado, who, in the role of a pyromaniac, set fire to a Spanish flag in front of a video camera with his face covered by a mask. As the dancer makes the victory sign, he realizes that the fire from the Spanish flag has spread to a Catalan flag, and in his attempt to extinguish the flames with his body, he ends up setting himself on fire, much to the astonished gaze of Don Quixote.
"With this scene, we were trying to reflect the multi-reality that exists in Spain, and we thought that the opera audience, being the most cultured, would have the sensitivity to understand it", Padrissa explained, although he ended up justifying the reasons for the veto. "It's a very strong scene, and we understand that Caminal (Liceu's director) doesn't let us do it. Burning a flag is not right", he affirmed.
The other controversial scene that the theater's management has also censored corresponded to the moment when a fine rain of natural, disinfected mineral water splashed the audience as a group of doves flew over the stalls. "The audience could have associated the water with something else", Padrissa quipped.
Despite everything, the theater group did not spare praise for the artistic director of the theater, Joan Matabosch, whom they described as "daring" for his bravery not only in programming a new opera but also for opening the season with them.
Co-produced by the Gran Teatre del Liceu and the Teatre de la Maestranza in Seville, where it has no scheduled release date yet, D.Q. Don Quixote in Barcelona constitutes a daring proposal that seeks to open new avenues of expression for the genre.
To begin with, as everyone involved emphasized yesterday, its creative process has followed a completely reverse path to the traditional one. This opera did not originate from a libretto, as is customary, but from a stage proposal, and its development has been a collective creative process in which the literary text -by writer Justo Navarro- and the music -composed by José Luis Turina- have evolved in parallel with the stage dramaturgy conceived by Álex Ollé and Carles Padrissa.
"At a time when we were working with museum operas, we felt the need to dedicate our time to a new opera", explained Padrissa, who conceived the idea of creating a production dedicated to the figure of Don Quixote after finding a book titled “Don Quixote in Barcelona" in the Sant Antoni market.
The Liceu opens to the future with La Fura
By Marino Rodríguez
(Article published in the newspaper La Vanguardia. Barcelona, September 29, 2000)
"D.Q." opens tomorrow the season of the Barcelona lyrical coliseum
The future starts tomorrow. The future of the Liceu, specifically, because although it is true that a theater prepared for the 21st century resurfaced from the flames, it can be said that the entry into it of the most avant-garde creation, of the most "furious" modernity, will begin with the world premiere of the opera D.Q. (Don Quixote in Barcelona), which will take place tomorrow night (8:00 p.m.).
The only possible referent is now far away, the presentation in 1992 of "Einstein on the beach", by the famous Philip Glass-Bob Wilson binomial, but if on that occasion they opted for a piece that, since its premiere in 1976, had been presented already successful in numerous theaters, now the definitive step forward is taken by relying on a new work, also illuminated with an unprecedented creative process in the operatic world.
Those responsible for the scenic aspects of the group La Fura dels Baus devised the bases of the show and have worked in collaboration with the Madrid composer José Luis Turina and the writer from Granada Justo Navarro, to whom they entrusted the music and the libretto for it, amen with other outstanding creators, such as the architects Enric Miralles -recently deceased- and Benedetta Tagliabue, authors of the set design, or the video director Emmanuel Carlier. The result is a spectacular, futuristic, multimedia opera that has cost 166 million pesetas.
Despite the small "disagreements" they have had with those responsible for the Liceu, the leaders of La Fura are the first to admit that many things have changed at the Liceu. "In 1984 -says Carles Padrissa- we made the Rogue Manifesto, in which we said that to fix the issue of money culture the best thing was to wall up the Liceu. But the Liceu has been reborn with a new air; the proof is that they have dared to let us do an opera, a new opera, moreover, and which besides opens the season".
In the words of Justo Navarro, "D.Q. is a work about time. We are used to seeing Don Quixote as a myth out of all time, but our Quixote is infected with time. In our work Don Quixote is a strange being that nobody understands because he is out of his time. Hardly anyone reads the novel and he is seen more as a cartoon character."
The montage shows Don Quixote in three different times "which correspond -adds Padrissa- to the three different realities that the novel describes: the subjective reality that Don Quixote creates with his fantasy is shown in the first act, which we set in Geneva of 3014. The virtual reality that the Dukes of Aragon, who already know of his madness, create for the character, corresponds to us the entertainment society, and is described in the second act, which takes place in the Hong Kong of 3016. Finally, the pure and hard reality, that Don Quixote discovers at the end of the book in Barcelona, we show it in the last act, set in Barcelona itself but in 2005".
No burned flags or pigeons La Fura downplays the cuts required in the co-production with the Liceu
As the members of La Fura usually remember, this name is the one that the ferret receives in Catalan. "A little animal that is impossible to completely tame and with which there is always the risk of being bitten," says Carles Padrissa with a laugh.
It has already been precisely Padrissa -the member of La Fura who directs D.Q. along with Àlex Ollé- who has launched the "bite" on this occasion, by revealing that the theater demanded that a scene be cut from the play, staged as a co-production.
According to Padrissa, in the scene "a man was shown burning a Spanish flag. But then he sees that this flag is attached to another from Barcelona and a third, the Catalan one. As he does not want to burn those other flags, he tries to put out the fire, but it ends up passing into his clothes. Don Quixote sees the scene and freezes, but another character puts the man out with a fire extinguisher."
Padrissa explains that "the scene happened in the last act, which takes place in Barcelona and in which it is about reflecting the pure and hard reality. It was not a gratuitous scene, it was one that reflects the reality that we all live, a reality of cowardice interested". But he adds: "We don't do it and nothing happens. The most important thing is that the issue has come up, that is, that we have done the scene virtually... I also understand that in this case, Mr. Caminal (general director of the theater ) do not let him do it. Maybe one day we will do it. It is not that the work is distorted, far from it. It will be just as good."
According to Padrissa, "the reason they did not want the scene to be made is very simple: it is not good to burn flags. We said: but is not the public of the opera the most educated that exists? Well, you will understand this. In fact, we wanted to exemplify that if one burns, one can be burned. That if one burns other beliefs, they can end up burning yours. But I admit that watching something that you love burn is hard, it was a very strong paratheatrical act."
The artistic director of the Liceu, Joan Matabosch, also downplays the controversy "because with that scene or without that scene, the work is very important, solid and of quality. In addition, the original script can be read in the playbill, where figure the episode of the flags".
"Another thing that they asked us not to do was to release some pigeons towards the public. Then we would throw a little water on it with some brushes. There would be those who would think that the pigeons shit on him, but it was not that," says Padrissa .
Don Quixote returns to Barcelona
By Marino Rodríguez
(Report published in the newspaper La Vanguardia. Barcelona, September 30, 2000)
The keys to "D.Q.", the new opera that opens the Liceu season today
The knight with the sad figure returns to Barcelona today with the world premiere of D.Q., the opera that opens the new season at the Liceu and whose subtitle is, precisely, Don Quixote in Barcelona. These are the keys to this ambitious multimedia production conceived by La Fura dels Baus.
THE ARGUMENT. The first act takes place in a bank in Geneva in the year 3014, where something that nobody knows, a Quixote, is put up for auction. The second takes place in Hong Kong in 3016, in an amusement park where Don Quixote is exhibited among other "monsters of the galaxy". In the third and last act, he is sent to the Barcelona of 2005, where a conference is held about him. There we see how all the "living statues" imitate him or how a great wave floods the Rambla.
THE PRODUCTION. 116 million pesetas have been spent on some spectacular scenic elements: An aluminum airship-cage, weighing 700 kilos and 18 meters long, in which Don Quixote travels -and which rotates in the air, reaching part of him off stage-, a series of large mirrors that allow one to see the back -19 meters below the ground- of the stage box and its upper area, an "ancient wonder locator machine", flying chairs, metal trees and, with a very prominent role, a 12 by 9 meter video screen on which videos and graphic elements are projected as "virtual sets".
THE CREATORS. La Fura has surrounded itself with a team of outstanding collaborators: the music is by the Madrid composer José Luis Turina -National Music Award winner in 1996-, the libretto by the Granada-born writer Justo Navarro -author of "La casa del padre"-, the images have been created by the French video artist Emmanuel Carlier, the scenery by the architects Enric Miralles -the author of the Igualada cemetery, who recently died- and Benedetta Tagliabue, and the costumes by Chu Uroz -former designer of Armand Basi and artistic director of the tours of U2-.
THE PERFORMERS. The Liceu orchestra and the Palau's Cor de Cambra (expanded to 50 members) will be conducted by Josep Pons. The protagonists are the baritone Michael Kraus (Quijote), the sopranist Flavio Oliver, the tenors Francisco Vas and Santiago Calderón and the soprano Pilar Jurado. Several dozen extras also take part.
INTERVIEWwith Carles Padrissa, stage director and member of La Fura dels Baus
"The Liceu must be open to all creators who can make opera evolve"
Carles Padrissa has been, in close collaboration with Àlex Ollé -both members of the group La Fura dels Baus-, the main architect of "D.Q." - Isn't it a bit daring that for your first newly created opera you have started from a work as mythical as Don Quixote?
- We do not intend to explain Don Quixote. Ours is a very free version of the myth of Don Quixote, a reflection, an echo. It is already known, furthermore, that we do not make works with a traditional dramatic evolution. Ours is more of a kind of ritual. - In other words, it may be that the public does not end up seeing the relationship with Don Quixote anywhere.
- You can, but it doesn't matter. If they don't understand anything now, don't worry; maybe they understand it in two months. This is a new type of opera and you have to see it with new eyes... First of all, we were interested in the presence of Don Quixote in Barcelona, which is referred to in the last act, since it is where the clash of the character takes place with the harsh reality, that of the cowardly and interested society in which we live. We no longer know how to distinguish between reality and fiction and so, when something real happens, we are paralyzed, as happens to Don Quixote. Working at the Liceu we have also felt like modern Quixotes. But the effort has been worth it. - It is the first time that La Fura has made an operatic production in Barcelona, where none of his other works in the genre have been seen...
- It's just that in the world of opera everyone is so famous, so exclusive... Nobody wants something that has already been done somewhere else. They consider that it is already old, used. - This is also the debut of La Fura in a symbol of Catalonia such as the Liceu...
- If we had told our audience in the eighties that we were going to do something for the Liceu, they would have called us crazy. - Among other things because, as you yourself have recalled, in 1984 La Fura published the "Rogue Manifesto", in which you said that "to fix the issue of the culture of money, the best thing to do is to wall up the Liceu" . Who has seen and who sees you...
- Heh, heh, heh... Well, if the Liceu continued with the closed mentality, dandruff, that it had years ago, I would still say that it would be better to wall it up. But it burned down and has resurfaced with new airs... And how much has it cost? Like an F-18 more or less? - I think an F-18 is worth more, but don't pay much attention to me.
- Well that. If you buy one less of those gadgets, it is justifiable to spend the savings on an opera house, and even more so if it is allowed -as it should be- for all those new creators who, like us, can contribute to making it evolve the operatic genre. - Why has La Fura also entered opera?
- We bet on multimedia, multidisciplinary, from the beginning. Now there are a large number of creators who have joined that dynamic. We are in a new renaissance, the creators are like Da Vinci again, touching very different fields. For this new creator, opera can be his panacea. What La Fura has done has always been very close to opera, in that sense of total spectacle that this genre has. And music has always been very important in our work. - "We come to contaminate the opera", you said. With what and why?
- We are not from this medium. We have another way of understanding it. We come from the street, we have learned in another way... - The use of modern visual technology is perhaps La Fura's main contribution to opera.
- The creation of "virtual sets" through projections is one of the aspects that we have worked on the most, yes. It is incredible that, in its more than one hundred years of existence, the moving image -cinema or video today- has hardly been incorporated into opera. - Do you also want to scandalize the world of opera?
- Man, yes, but... As we are used to... - Will "D.Q." provoke controversy among the public of the Liceu, which some call conservative?
- That's what they say, I don't know. I've only been on it as a spectator a couple of times. But I don't think "D.Q." provoke controversy. It won't be like last year with "Lohengrin" because this is a new work, people don't have references. - There is a lot of controversy, especially among singers, directors and a sector of the public, due to the progressive increase in prominence that stage directors have acquired in opera. "D.Q." can be seen as the culmination of that process, given that the entire production has started from La Fura's ideas.
- - It's called the dictatorship of the stage directors. But for us the music comes first, ahead of the staging, among other things because we know that if the music is liked, the rest of the montage will better fit the viewer. But, of course, there has to be movement, dramatization, because otherwise we would have a concert.
Turina: "My music can be listened to without problems by the average fan"
"It is a huge responsibility to open the Liceu season. But we have gone all out. I don't know if this opera will be successful or not, but I can guarantee that it has been planned with the aim of reaching the highest level in terms of vocal, orchestral and choral performance. And let's not even mention staging. The libretto is wonderful. And I've done the best I could, and I confess that for the first time I feel satisfied with a work", affirms José Luis Turina, author of the music for "D.Q."
This is the first large-format opera tackled by the Madrid-born composer. Perhaps because, as he himself affirms, "there is a hyper-absorbent inbreeding in the world of opera and it is very difficult for them to let you enter the circle. The weight of the traditional repertoire is so great that it is frightening. Today, being able to premiere an opera is like put a pike in Flanders. Being able to compete in the same season with titles like the ones that will be seen at the Liceu this year is the best thing that can happen to a current composer".
In his opinion, "it is necessary that contemporary composers be allowed to compete alongside the traditional repertoire, so that the public can prove our worth, and not that we be cornered in cycles or specialized festivals, as is being done. That is a big mistake, an ill-advised policy that has led to that fracture between the public and the composers of today".
For Turina, the music of "D.Q." can be listened to without great problems by the average fan. "I'm interested in getting in touch with that fan who enjoys, for example, Stravinsky; I'm not so interested in flattering the ears of a specialized audience that doesn't want to know anything about the traditional repertoire. The exacerbated avant-garde music lover will say that my music for 'D.Q. ' It's outdated, but I'm not worried about anything."
The composer defines the work as "agile, dynamic, entertaining but not superficial", and precisely that it "fluctuates between parodic humor and drama". As for the compositional technique, the work "seeks a balance between what is traditional and what is modern or current, that is why the music of 'D.Q.' it is mostly atonal, or rather pantonal, but it also has tonal moments. Tonality appears when allusion is made to time, and above all to the past, because when the listener hears something tonal he immediately associates it with the past. Now, I use tonality in a current context. I don't use an archaic language, I don't try to recreate the music of Cervantes' time or compose like Mozart".
Spectacularity and boredom at the premiere of "Don Quixote" by La Fura
By Lourdes Morgades
(Chronicle published in the newspaper El País. Madrid, October 1, 2000)
Spectacular but also, and paradoxically, a boring result at the end of the staging of the opera D. Q. Don Quixote in Barcelona conceived by La Fura dels Baus, with music by the composer Josá Luis Turina and a libretto by the writer Justo Navarro, premiered last night in Barcelona and with which the new Liceo theater inaugurated its second season. The first two acts, very static, the recurrence of special effects and the very long intervals ended up reducing the agility of the show.
Two days ahead of schedule, the new Liceo theater opened its second season with the world premiere of a new opera conceived by the La Fura dels Baus theater group. A premiere that had aroused great expectation leaving only several hundred tickets at the box office for the nine performances scheduled until next October 10. An expectation that both the composer of the opera, José Luis Turina, and the librettist, the writer Justo Navarro, did not hesitate to recognize that the participation of La Fura dels Baus in the staging had generated, both as those responsible for the conception of the work and its staging.
With an audience made up entirely of guests, among whom the Liceo management placed the representatives of the sponsoring companies and the protective entities of the theater in a preferential place, D. Q. Don Quixote was premiered in Barcelona, an opera that takes until the 31st century to a Don Quixote who lives adventures that have parallels with those that Cervantes makes him run in his famous novel. The expectation was palpable before the start of the performance among the public, who was willing to enjoy as rarely the privilege of being the first to see what has been announced as a new form of opera to create, which begins with the scenic conception, followed by a tailor-made libretto, to finally compose the music, a sequence that inverts the usual terms of creation of works of this genre.
The unknown as to whether the invention would work and would result in an opera did not seem to worry the public at first, convinced in advance that it was going to live a different experience. And it was certainly a different experience, although not exactly the one that the public had imagined with all the information that had circulated days before the premiere. And it is that the theory does not always correspond to the practice.
Spectacularity was promised on paper, and there was spectacularity in the extremely complex set designed by the Barcelona architect Enric Miralles, who died last July and to whom La Fura dels Baus, José Luis Turina and Justo Navarro have dedicated the opera. But it was that very complexity that turned an opera with two hours of music into a show from which the public left the theater four hours after entering after enduring two intermissions of 45 minutes each.
In its staging, La Fura del Baus plays to impact with the spectacular scenery. Projections -stellar travel in the first act, aerial images of metropolises in the second and typhoons and tidal waves in the third- and singers located in unusual spaces -suspended by a kind of trapeze and bags in the first and in a huge zeppelin in the second- end up boring in the first two acts, excessively static and repetitive in the few stage movements. Only the third act, set on La Rambla in Barcelona in the near future, manages to save the show from yawning thanks to the appearance, at last, of action.
"Don Quixote in Barcelona" opens the Liceo season
By José Luis García del Busto
(Review published in the newspaper ABC. Madrid, October 1st, 2000)
"D.Q.," a Spanish opera premiered in prestigious “cartellone”, inaugurating the 2000-2001 season of Barcelona's Liceo, is a collaborative work by four authors: José Luis Turina as the composer, Justo Navarro as the librettist, Enric Miralles and Benedetta Tagliabue as scenographers, and Álex Ollé and Carlos Padrissa -La Fura dels Baus- as theatrical creators and promoters of this ambitious project. The great architect and artist Enric Miralles, who invested so much effort and enthusiasm into this eccentric and talented version of Don Quixote (the character, not the novel) and the concept of quixoticism, passed away recently without being able to witness the completion of the work. Therefore, these performances are offered in his memory with commendable reasoning.
The first act takes place in Geneva in the year 3014, where we attend an antique auction in which Don Quixote is a tradable object; in the second act, set in Hong Kong in the year 3016, Don Quixote is exhibited in a sort of gallery of monsters; the third act unfolds in Barcelona in 2005, where a surreal Congress on Cervantes' novel is celebrated -marking the 400th anniversary of its publication- transitioning from there to the street, to La Rambla, as if leaving the Liceo. Don Quixote denies reality, clings to his imagination, prefers that world, and wants to live in his delusions rather than the deceptions of reality.
He perceives this reality in Barcelona, and of course, he doesn't like it: he ends up thanking the "gentle and idle public" (I did not feel alluded) that in his mind, he can be what he wants to be...
There is wit and talent in Navarro's literary proposal, just as there is inspiration and skill in Turina's score. And these elements are wrapped in a lavish theatrical and scenographic display, with eleven solo singers, four main actors, numerous extras, imaginative and varied costumes (Uroz), complex lighting (Faura), a significant video production (very well executed by Emmanuel Carlier), amplification support, playback of some prerecorded elements, a moderately sized choir, a large orchestra... there are many elements, so many, that it's challenging to encapsulate judgment in a few lines written in the haste of closing the edition. I'll try to summarize an opinion that is not definitive, but rather ambivalent.
The spectacle is splendidly executed. Each participating aspect achieves excellence. No passage, judged in isolation, is, in my opinion, dismissible... The text is valuable, the music is valuable, the singers and actors perform at a high standard (and it's not an indirect reference to their positions), the theatrical realization is spectacular, magnificent... So, is it a great opera? The feeling I have is not so certain, formed through a first and only encounter where I felt more than once that all these numerous and excellent elements do not blend into a superior artistic unity that transcends them.
I'll try to extend and refine the commentary in a second review, as this one must be closed now with a reference to the positive anticipation the performance has stirred in Barcelona and the operatic community as a whole, recounting the audience's reaction that filled the first of the performances. The premiere was followed with evident respect for the quality of the musical and theatrical work being presented, but in the end, with the appearance of the creators on stage, a division of opinions emerged. Not only did one spectator let out a clear expletive shout at the end of the performance, but several others expressed their dissent while some abstained, and surely the majority applauded. This experience will be widely discussed, and that's a good thing.
The work filled the spirit of the Liceo with modernity
By Pablo Meléndez-Haddad
(Review published in the newspaper ABC. Madrid, October 1, 2000)
Last night's preview at the Gran Teatro del Liceo of "D. Q., Don Quijote in Barcelona," shook the very foundations of Spain's dean of lyricism. La Fura dels Baus' production, groundbreaking, impactful, and full of symbolism, garnered applause from an audience specially invited for this season's inauguration. The staging concept, undoubtedly the aspect that generated the most anticipation among the audience for this world premiere, overshadowing both Justo Navarro's libretto and José Luis Turina's score, was met with surprise by a public that, for the most part, was prepared to encounter in their familiar Liceo something quite different from the usual fare. La Fura and its unique futuristic and daring vision of Don Quijote have allowed the horizons of operatic genre to be opened to a new generation of audience, those interested in the new paths of contemporary theatrical reality. The artistic direction that Liceo is striving to pursue has found in this "D. Q." a special breeding ground, where the desires to renew the genre and transform it into a living, current, and powerful art form, where people can find an alternative way of artistic satisfaction as opposed to the culture of television, have been imprinted. The intellectual massage proposed by Navarro and Turina, perhaps most criticized by the public due to its melancholic, repetitive, and lacking theatrical tension nature, found in the imagery of the responsible parties for the visual elements of the production -Albert Faura's lighting designs, Chu Uroz's costumes, and above all, the stage proposals of Enric Miralles and Benedetta Tagliabue- a new and tremendously appealing, groundbreaking world. While the mass movements proposed by La Fura in the second act were not the most successful -something needed to infuse energy into the libretto and the music-, the production ultimately became the highlight of the night. As a result, while the music-literary creation might have induced yawns and nods among the audience, the power of the visuals saved the show, to the delight of all those Liceo supporters who believe that the future of opera is not only found in new scores but also in the rejuvenation of dramaturgy.
La Fura dels Baus hits the Liceu with its futuristic and risky opera "D.Q."
By Marino Rodríguez
(Chronicle published in the newspaper La Vanguardia. Barcelona, October 1, 2000)
Spectacular. Other adjectives, generally positive, were heard last night at the Gran Teatre del Liceu after the world premiere of the opera "D.Q.", but perhaps that was one of the most used by most of those attending the opening of the new season of the La Rambla Coliseum. But, aside from the aesthetic aspect, it was also evident that part of the public, accustomed to the traditional operatic repertoire, did not tune in to a musical proposal of an atonal nature, so far removed from the usual sounds in this genre.
It was an "extraordinary function" reserved for guests, made up mostly of political authorities, members of the forty patrons of theater companies, personalities from the Catalan cultural world and representatives of some social entities -such as the Associació de Veïns de La Rambla- and the media.
La Fura dels Baus had already demonstrated it in Granada -where they staged "La Atlántida" by Falla-, in Rome and in Peralada -where they presented "St Sebastian Martyrdom", by Debussy- and even in the most renowned Music Festival of the world, that of Salzburg -where they triumphed last year with "La damnation de Faust"-, but yesterday, at last, they were also able to show it off in their own home: the work they are doing in the field of poetry is not only of great brilliance, but is making a decisive contribution to the evolution of the genre at this turn of the millennium.
The risk in this case was greater, since it was a new opera, so the triumph of Carles Padrissa and Àlex Ollé - the members of La Fura who have directed both this and the three previous experiences in the group's lyrical field- must be distributed, firstly, with the composer of the music, José Luis Turina from Madrid, and the author of the libretto, the Granada-born writer Justo Navarro, and, secondly, with the rest of the creators -among them the architects Enric Miralles (recently deceased and to whose memory the work is dedicated) and Benedetta Tagliabue, authors of the set design, the video artist Emmanuel Carlier, the costume designer Chu Uroz...- and performers -Josep Pons (musical director), the house orchestra and the Cor de Cambra del Palau and the soloist singers-. The public at least understood it that way, as it rewarded each of them with warm applause.
A success also for the Liceu, producer of the play, whose managers showed their satisfaction and relief at having emerged triumphant from the risk assumed by opening the season with the first great avant-garde bet of the theater.
The 116 million employed in the production of this multimedia and futuristic opera, which takes Don Quixote to the third millennium in its first two acts and brings him back to present-day Barcelona in the last, were clearly seen on stage: the "furera aesthetic" dazzles in its conjunction of "virtual sets" -achieved with video projections and graphics-, or a varied and ingenious wardrobe and large "stage elements" such as mirrors that allow you to see the subsoil of the stage.
The political class did not want to miss the premiere
Among the authorities attending the premiere, welcomed by the General Director of the Liceu, Josep Caminal, were the Ministers of Foreign Affairs, Josep Piqué, and of Science and Technology, Anna Birulés, as well as the wife of the President of the Generalitat, Marta Ferrusola; the President of the Parliament, Joan Rigol, and the Minister of Economy, Artur Mas. Likewise, the Secretary of State for Culture, Luis Alberto Cuenca or Luis Cambreleng, director of the Royal Theater were present.
Don Quixote at the Liceu
Yesterday the season opened at the Liceu -the second since the reconstruction of the operatic coliseum- with a work as risky as it was ambitious, "Don Quixote in Barcelona", a multimedia production conceived by La Fura dels Baus, with music by José Luis Turina, images by Emmanuel Carlier, scenery by Benedetta Tagliabue and the recently deceased Enric Miralles and costumes by Chu Uroz. The simple enumeration of these names ensures by itself the avant-garde character of the work.
Apart from the artistic merits of this new work, an issue in which the public and the critics will give and take away reasons, it is interesting to highlight here the undeniable vocation of the new managers of the Liceu not to follow well-trodden paths, rejecting the understandable temptation to fall asleep in the laurels
After a first season in which there was everything -it is difficult to achieve unanimity before an audience as knowledgeable as that of the Liceu-, it cannot be denied that the full house was already guaranteed even before the curtain rose yesterday. The number of subscribers has grown from one season to the next by around 20%, with which an increasingly smaller part of the capacity is what goes to the box office. Quite a success, but also a risk.
This is not an opera
By Roger Alier
(Review published in the newspaper La Vanguardia. Barcelona, October 2, 2000)
The day of the premiere of "D. Q. (Don Quixote in Barcelona)" arrived early and the truth is that the show offered was quite disappointing and produced a certain lethargy applause in the audience, at the end of the first act, a certain reactivation of it, finally of the second, and a series of expletives, some "fat" and whistles, not so much against the show itself, but above all because of the inadequacy of what is offered to what is understood as opera.
And it is that "D.Q." is not an opera: a show based on a high percentage of visual images, sung with amplification and conceived in the way that this is an audiovisual show in which some happy moments can be discerned -not many- but, in any case, it cannot be sold as an opera nor can the bells be thrown saying that the renewal of the genre in the 21st century is here. And it's not for nothing that genres exist, and in the same way as in a swimming championship the results obtained by boat would not be accepted, nor is what La Furas dels Baus offers at the Liceu an opera. That La Fura dels Baus has the capacity to put on high-quality audiovisual shows was already certified by international critics before its wonderful "Damnation de Faust" in Salzburg last year; there Berlioz's opera was covered with a set of extremely freely chosen images, but assembled in an opera. But not here. In addition, we have spent the entire century that ends lamenting the inanity of the librettos of many operas.
Now we fall into the pathetic libretto that accompanies this idea, laudable in itself, of Don Quixote in Barcelona. It must be assumed that those who attend the functions of the Liceu have, to a great extent, a Baccalaureate. The libretto for "D.Q." it's not acceptable to anyone who knows how to do more than just the O with a joint. That one of the "leitmotifs" of Don Quixote is that "on most days I have salad for dinner", a profound message, as can be seen, in the midst of hundreds of similar nonsense, is something that astonished the "respectable", who felt little respected. It's like quickly following Salieri's motto: "Prime music, poi (but very "poi") le parole".
Because the music of "D.Q." it is something else. Not that it is a very inspired score, but at least it offers pockets of interest, and even some very beautiful moments (such as the piano and choir interventions, in the second act), and there is at least one character who sings in the broad sense of the word: Don Quixote himself, acceptably sung by Michael Kraus with a bit light voice somehow shaky at some point, but with a good line and sense of song. But the open stage on all sides was detrimental to the singing, even amplified. What is suspicious, however, is that the best moments in which the public found solace were the allusions to "Parsifal" in the first act, and the "tetralogical" music of some passages of the endless flight of the zeppelin skeleton in which traveled D.Q.
In the third act, the tidal wave scene had quite a bit of stage grace. This is where the public should have been wet. If the act had ended with this chaos, it would have been better than prolonging it with insipid postludes and concluding phrases by poor Don Quixote, who was not exactly received by a Barcelona "courtesy archive", because there were even some bad-sounding adjectives and a storm of whistles that were mixed with applause of mere courtesy, which became more inflamed when the choir greeted and when the only outstanding singer appeared, the aforementioned Michael Kraus.
Trying to drive the nail through the head has never worked; the opera of the 21st century will be very different from that of the 20th, but if you want there to be "opera fans" in 3000, as the stolid libretto says in the first act, you have to be careful not to kill it with boring amplified audiovisual shows.
Very special (d)efects
By Joan-Anton Benach
(Review published in the newspaper La Vanguardia. Barcelona, October 2, 2000)
If prudence should not make us traitors, modernity should not make us too indulgent. In my opinion, "D.Q." it is, above all, a solemn nuisance. Beware, therefore, of possible confusions. If tonight, the first paid performance of La Fura's opera, there is some booing, some whistling, some "Quina merda" at the Liceu -like the one that was expelled from the upper floors on Saturday- do not necessarily attribute it to the most immobile and crowded sector of our fireproof coliseum.
Conspicuous, in favor of renewing, of dynamiting even traditional operatic expressions, they left the show the night before last with that same eschatological expansion turned into a confidential whisper and with the trace of boredom still on their faces.
To make a bore it is not necessary to resort to second-hand materials. "D.Q." has been an important challenge to the talent of La Fura and that of its two unquestionable leaders: Àlex Ollé and Carlos Padrissa. And that talent shines, not in everything, but in many things: in the sophisticated use of video production and installation by Emmanuel Carlier, in various set elements by the ill-fated Enric Miralles and Benedetta Tagiabue, in Chu Uroz's wardrobe, in the interesting transitive game of the choir, directed in the vocal passages by Jordi Casas...
All this cannot be achieved, of course, without an idea of great cohesive power. What would be missing, therefore, in the montage of "D.Q." if, in addition, the score by José Luis Turina is a marvel of combinatory techniques? What I think is missing is the discourse, the translation of a very imaginative futuristic vision of the Cervantes character into a theatrical -operatic- syntax of minimal dramatic quality. The abusive use of "the situation" would fail, with a tiresome reiteration of pulley effects, trapezes and various gadgets, to the detriment of an "action" that practically does not exist. "D.Q." it is, in this sense, a "quietist" work, whose episodic spasms produce only ephemeral visual suggestions. It's not much for so much gunpowder.
To say that the three acts of "D.Q." are boring is not precise enough. Some are more than others. Therefore, the hype surrounding what would be a "total" show is not understood. Maybe a pinch of Flash Gordon, a slice of "Mad Max," a bit of "Blade Runner," all shaken up and whatever? Of course, the cocktail would be served cold. In that "D.Q." was right: more coldness, impossible. I suspect that "total theater" is identified with a great pyrotechnics of images and objects, and little else. And also that the desire to "surprise" has supplanted the difficulties in dramatizing situations that now slide into pure indifference. If Messrs. Appia and Gordon Craig, the first great post-Wagnerian theorists of the "total spectacle", raised their heads, more than one scolding would be handed out at the Liceu. And the first would be for the infamous lighting of the first act, although in the other two Albert Faura wisely corrected it. Another would be dedicated to whoever had the frivolous and gratuitous idea of illustrating a Barcelona hurricane that will occur in 2005 with images of Franco and triumphant fascism. And so, quite a few.
The suggestive Fura dels Baus is still far ahead of the discursive La Fura dels Baus. Another different thing is the fact that the local group with the most transgressive claw accesses the scene with the greatest bourgeois ancestry. The event is to be thanked and applauded.
"D.Q." stands, from now on, as the symbol of a very promising permeability of the Gran Teatre del Liceu towards the heterodox natives. Hiring Sellars, Wilson and Glass, Konwitschny's "Lohengrin" and refusing to undertake a co-production with La Fura would not have been very reasonable. With "D.Q. (Don Quixote in Barcelona)" consistency has just been enthroned in our first lyrical theater. Despite the yawns, congratulations.
By Agustí Fancelli
(Review published in the newspaper El País. Madrid, October 2, 2000)
The balloon arrived very inflated. A consummate expert in putting media pressure on its premieres, La Fura dels Baus (Àlex Ollé, Carlos Padrissa) was not going to waste an entire Liceo season opening to mess it up. And if for that thick words were needed, then they were taken out of the closet, although later they had to be removed. "Censorship," thundered the fureros. They were not allowed to burn a couple of flags -the Spanish and the Catalan, so that nothing was missing-. They were also not allowed to release pigeons, under the pretext that they were going to destroy the newly released velvets, or soak the audience in the stalls when a huge wave submerged the Rambla on the stage. You have to see, this Lyceum, always so reactionary.
But all this happened behind the scenes. When the balloon finally appeared on the scene, now free of controversy, she simply punctured. Worse yet, he gently deflated, when it didn't -more terrifyingly still- raise well-founded suspicions that he had never been very swollen.
In the initial recipe, the ingredients seemed correctly proportioned: a company of international impact and prestige (their latest operatic success, a brilliant Damnation of Faust in Salzburg); a composer, José Luis Turina, who has not yet reached his fifties and is already considered one of the most solid values of his generation. Closing the list, a writer, Justo Navarro, who these days has published his latest novel, The soul of the air traffic controller. Without forgetting a set design, entrusted to the fatally disappeared Enric Miralles. But the dramaturgy plus libretto plus music equation is not always resolved in opera. For that it is necessary that these three elements park their respective identities and become part of a mysterious superior unit. It was not the case.
Fatigued they seemed the images invented by the Fura. A first act with hints of Fritz Lang, a second with hints of Blade Runner, a third unidentified (Mad Max?). Where was the breaking and blood Fura? Where all that provocation that should shake the venerable Liceo foundations? What censorship or what dead child. Exactly the opposite happened: the fureros, very Catalan, were infected by the bearded honorability of the establishment and became fully integrated apocalyptics. There were naturally some moments of poetry, but they were few.
Music? One expected tons of rhythm, percussion, timbre complexity, sound amplification until the eardrums asked for arnica. Nothing of that. A post-tonalism that does not renounce the melody, so correct and neat that it once again turns Stravinsky in The Rite of Spring into a giant of provocation. The recitative-arian dialectic is otherwise unresolved.
The idea of Don Quixote anxiously searching for very distant realities (Geneva, year 3014; Hong Kong, 3016) and finally finding himself in the Catalan proximities (Barcelona, 2004-2005), on paper, seemed to work. But in the end, an excess of poeticization and transcendentalism did not allow this text to become an authentic opera libretto, forcing it to treat the word in its most naked carnality.
Correct, the vocal and instrumental performance, conducted by Josep Pons.
The groundbreaking bet to inaugurate a season must be applauded without reservations, but to see it fulfilled it was necessary to have an opera. There wasn't, it was just a sketch. Of course: it is always better to make a mistake than to give up the attempt.
Many intentions and less results
By Albert Vilardell
(Review published in the newspaper El Mundo. Madrid, October 2, 2000)
One of the great challenges of modernizing opera is choosing the right path. You have to renew or die, but in the election the dilemma of "reform" or "rupture" always appears. The Liceu has made various proposals, but one of the riskiest is Don Quixote in Barcelona, defined as a virtual opera and which could create an important precedent.
Its gestation is carried out jointly from an idea of La Fura, a team effort. The approach is interesting because it associates in its development all the members of the total spectacle that is the opera. However, the results have not been as expected.
The structure of the work, in principle, is interesting. The text, by Justo Navarro, even though it is very philosophical, is of great quality and has a wide depth. José Luis Turina's music is very dependent on the written word, which motivates a certain corseting. The proposal moves in a particular atonality, except in the last act, quite tonal and with occasional references to the traditional repertoire.
However, the real protagonist was the staging of La Fura. The result, despite good intentions and occasional achievements of great brilliance, was monotonous. Thus, in the first act there is an abuse of audiovisual media on a big screen that gets tiresome. At first it looks like Star Wars, but there is no variability and the dramaturgy is very poor, partly due to the situation of the singers, hanging on a kind of swing. Something similar happens in the second, although the presence of the airship gives it more movement. The third is posed with a greater mass movement, and achieves a great effect in the hurricane scene, but then the effects are diluted again. La Fura should rethink the work, taking into account that important ideas arise but that they are harmed by a reiteration of the themes that detract from movement and harm the thread of the plot to provide it with more agility.
The direction of Josep Pons confirmed an excellent job with the orchestra, bringing together musicians and singers in a highly commendable team effort. Among the interpreters, the work of Michael Kraus stood out, who without being a particularly important voice, knew how to bring Don Quixote to life from the most uncomfortable situations. Flavio Oliver's work as "Mr. Pasamonte" was also notable for his exquisite musicality; and also Francisco Vas, as "auctioneer".
Among the rest of the singers, Sancho Panza stood out in a limited intervention by Felipe Bou and the funny sense of the Trifaldi Sisters sung by Pilar Jurado and Itxaro Mentxaca.
The controversy does not prevent the opera "D.Q." from leading the sale of tickets at the Liceu
(Article published in the newspaper La Vanguardia. Barcelona, October 3, 2000)
Most of the places in the first payment function -1,700- were occupied by subscribers. Seven other performances of the play will be performed.
Last night, the Liceu experienced the first performance of its new season with a paying public, after the official opening last Saturday, reserved entirely for guests, in which the world premiere of "D. Q." took place. The second performance of this futuristic and multimedia opera with music by the Madrid composer José Luis Turina, libretto by the writer from Granada Justo Navarro and the stage design of La Fura dels Baus was held again yesterday with a full theater. The protagonists were again the baritone Michael Kraus (Quijote), the sopranist Flavio Oliver, the tenor Francisco Vas and the soprano Pilar Jurado.
That same trend will follow the next performances of this controversial work. Of all the tickets that have been left for free sale after subscription closes, they are precisely those for the opera "D.Q." those that have had a higher percentage of sales. For "D.Q." 18,336 seats were available (8 performances), of which 14,456 were in the hands of subscribers and 3,871 were for free sale. Of the latter, on the 27th (last Friday) 3,124 had been sold, which represents 80.7% of the total.
The high occupancy was largely guaranteed, moreover, given the high percentage of subscribers to the shift in which last night's function was included, D, which was purchased by almost 1,700 people. The Liceu has 2,292 seats, although some 150 of them are without vision and almost another 200 have a partial view of the stage.
The Liceu will offer another seven functions of "D.Q." until the next day 10, all of them also included in different subscription shifts. Two of them -specifically those tonight and the next day 6- will be "popular functions", that is, with lower prices than normal ones and starring an alternative cast -usually made up of young singers-. For the seven performances of this approach to the myth of Don Quixote there are barely a few hundred tickets left yesterday, the vast majority without stage vision.
"Aida" follows the footsteps of the Fura
What does "D.Q." have that the others don't have? The first act takes place in a bank in Geneva in the year 3014, where something that nobody knows, a Quixote, is put up for auction. The second takes place in Hong Kong in 3016, in an amusement park where Don Quixote is exhibited among other "monsters of the galaxy". In the third and final act, he is sent back to the Barcelona of 2005. "D.Q." therefore offers innovation and risk. And it is not without its danger.
El Liceu, La Fura and Turina attribute the cold reception to "D.Q." to the "not fan audience"
By Pablo Mercè Beltran
(Review published in the newspaper La Vanguardia. Barcelona, October 4, 2000)
According to the main people in charge of "D.Q.", the reaction of the public made up of guests is always colder than that of the one made up of subscribers
The public that attended the premiere of "D.Q." was invited and probably not very fond of the opera. The one on Monday had paid the ticket and usually goes to the Liceu. This reason, and the fact that fringes remained to be finished on Saturday, because the premiere was scheduled for Monday, explains, in part, the different reception, cold on the first day and warmer on Monday, from the spectators. At least, these are the reasons put forward by Joan Matabosch, artistic director of the Liceu, Carles Padrissa, of La Fura del Baus, and José Luis Turina, composer of the work.
In this regard, Matabosch and Turina agree that the reaction of the spectator who attends an event such as the opening of the operatic season, made up of patrons and guests, is always much colder "than that of the one who goes to the performance as a subscription. Although sometimes the public is the same, their attitude is much more spontaneous, more enthusiastic in the second case".
Likewise, both Matabosch and Turina mention "the avalanche of information and media" that the opera caused before its premiere, which "generated an enormous expectation, beyond all logic." For Turina, it is possible that many of those who attended on Saturday expected to see a characteristic work of La Fura, "but this opera is not a typical work of La Fura, it is something else."
In addition to the fact that all those involved in the opera worked with the idea that the premiere was on Monday and that Saturday was conceived as a preview, a gesture from the institution towards patrons, sponsors and other authorities, and that there were still fringes to finish, the three interlocutors point out that "D.Q." is a contemporary opera and "this requires not having preconceived ideas". "It is a risky proposal, and that is good for the opera, for La Fura and for the Liceu", says Matabosch. Padrissa and Turina express themselves in a similar sense: "New operas require new perceptions. Those who like it the most are those who attend the performance like children with the counter at zero."
By Llàtzer Moix
On Saturday, an audience of guests and notables received "D.Q." coldly. On Monday, in the first of subscription, the the audience of the Liceu were more benevolent.
Can any conclusions be drawn from this relatively diverse reception? Yes, you can. For example: notables and critics dispatched "D.Q." with a certain frivolity and harshness, while the Liceu audience responded with a gesture of patrimonial pride. About such comments, now fall the bellicose opinions collected on this page.
Seen coldly, "D.Q." it is a promising show but insufficient. The scenery is good, the images shine, the orchestra complies, the choir stands out, the singers pass the rope, and the music, which is of quality, seems less so because, being rhythmically fragmented, it fails to cover the narrative shortcomings of the libretto; of a libretto whose author, an excellent novelist, collides here with an inappropriate genre for his hypnotic prose. Result: the set does not give a good opera. But, the way ticket sales are going for "D.Q.", it would seem that the Liceu's public yearns for something new. And this, at least, is encouraging news.
Apostille for the "D.Q."
By Ramon Pla y Arxé
(Article published in the newspaper La Vanguardia. Barcelona, October 13, 2000)
The usual thing before the premiere of a contemporary opera is to receive it with stoicism -like someone who pays an inevitable revolutionary tax- and treat it with that deferential paternalism that we apply to the victim of a worrying illness. And the same thing happens, by the way, with the willful amateur approaches to opera that are treated with the care that the most fragile defenselessness deserves. Protectionism, however, not only reveals the benign disposition of the writer but also the fragility of what is being commented on.
But the recent "D.Q." which has premiered at the Liceu has not been treated as a revolutionary tax that must be borne, nor has it been judged with the deference of what would not withstand a challenge. In fact, the stakes that this "D.Q." has received have been virtually unanimous on the part of commentators and critics, often frankly irritated. "D.Q." has been treated as a healthy, normal product, full of energy and vitality: that is to say, as a successful product, with nine performances planned as if it were a work of the great repertoire, all seats sold and an overwhelmingly favorable media environment. Enviable.
Even more curious is the almost unanimity in the appreciation of the work -that of boredom- and in the reasoning that supports it. And all of this must have an explanation that I think can be found in what we understand today as gender. I am not talking about gender in the neoclassical sense of a literary form -rigid and regulated- that is reproduced as a guarantee of quality and that therefore becomes an end. No one -or almost- reiterates this outdated criterion. Today, the genre is considered more as a code -structured and shared forms and meanings- and, therefore, as an instrument available to the author to create the work. Not on its target. And as a useful instrument because it guarantees the existence of expectations in the receiver that the artist can take advantage of -confirming or altering them- in order to express himself.
With "D.Q." the genre -and expectations- was associated with the name of La Fura dels Baus, which has enough experience and aesthetic homogeneity in its work to create an identifiable code for the public. And I have little doubt that these expectations are summed up in the certainty of finding strong emotions in the show: gestural violence, frenetic rhythm, sensory impacts bordering on brutality, frenetic action, strength and aggressiveness of the dramatic discourse. And in the case of the "D.Q." of the Liceu not exactly "skimmed" by its presence in an opera house, but rather "enriched" by the expectations created by the use of sophisticated technology on stage.
The result has been unanimity -with few exceptions, such as the nuanced opinion of Jaume Radigales- in considering that the show had been tedious. And it certainly wasn't a reason, but it fascinates me that disappointment absorbed opinion in such a way that allusions to the obvious plastic beauty of the show were used only as a mitigation of condemnation. Moreover, although the aesthetic impact of the set design has never been denied -or almost never-, it has also been immediately noticed that this was a minor resource that should not acquire prominence because it was there to humbly serve, like a servant, the show, and not to appear. I agree in attributing to music the determining expressive role in opera, but why so much reticence in the presence of new materials on the scene with an undeniable expressive force? And why complain about it in opera, which is a musical and dramatic form with a vocation to integrate, precisely, all the arts? The problem, also for "D.Q.", is the result, not the pedigree of the materials whose enrichment and strength, the art that needs to be expressed, can only rejoice and celebrate.
But the most significant thing is that only one criterion is used -that of boredom- and a few causes -the text, substantially- to explain the reason for this torpor. No one, to my knowledge, has bothered to claim the whole -text, music and dramaturgy- to be expressive of what the text itself suggests. Because in opera the text identifies the creation, the situation or the feeling that it wants to express and this same emotion is expressed artistically -acquires the complexity of an experience- in music. Well, the text of "D.Q." presents -among many other things, certainly too many- a Quixote who wants to be the chivalrous literary character that Cervantes created despite being ignored in Geneva, underestimated in Hong Kong and used in Barcelona, in a metaphor of the three spaces -La Mancha, Aragón and Barcelona- in which the novel takes place. Without this being the most Cervantine choice, this intelligent and good hidalgo who is the madman in Quixote has unmistakable aspects of pathos that Justo Navarro's text clearly identifies -and reiterates three times-. As it seems to me, the music, the dramaturgy and the text of this "D.Q." they must be judged in terms of his ability to express this pathos. You can diverge in the identification of the theme, but it seems less debatable to me that you should first reflect on the meaning of what the "D.Q." expresses -or tries to express-. before judging what the materials of the work are worth and contribute to this task.
When this is not done, what is done is to respond passively to the expectation of effects, not causes. Do I expect entertainment? Well, the irritation comes from the fact that the work is not fun. Do I expect strong emotions? Well, the disenchantment comes from the fact that we have not exactly mounted the Dragon Khan. And from there arises the predilection for the third act - finally entertainment! - and the little attention that has been paid to the second act, which is, without a doubt from my perspective, the best precisely because it pathetically expresses the solitude of Don Quixote. Identify the meaning of "D.Q." can certainly generate hostile criticism, but at least let it be rational criticism and not mere reactive impulses.
By Josep M. Muñoz
(Article published in the newspaper El País. October 21, 2000)
... The question remains of how the renovation of genres such as opera should be faced, beyond a more or less updated repertoire through new productions. This reflection comes to mind regarding the world premiere, a few weeks ago at the Liceo, of the opera D. Q. (Don Quixote in Barcelona), conceived by La Fura dels Baus and presented as a "revolutionary" sample of what is going to be the "21st century opera". An assessment with which the critics have been far from agreeing. From what I have seen and what I have read, it seems that the unquestionable dictum of the world of cinema can be applied to D. Q., which says that a bad film can be made with a good script, but what cannot be done is a good film with a bad script. And La Fura had in his hands not only a bad script, but some very weak ideas, almost non-existent, on which to build his artifact. It is the risk that is assumed when the primacy is granted almost exclusively to the image. Sometimes, even, to any image: what does that triumphant Franco mean by appearing in the video images in the hurricane scene? When the word is dispensed with, the image can become dangerously ambiguous.
La Fura has not achieved what he set out to do: not only it has not convinced, but it has not even shocked anyone. It has not taken into account that only ideas are subversive. And that the rest is literature -and, in this case, bad literature-. It has insisted that, despite this, the Lyceum must not give up on the purpose of incorporating contemporary creators. Our theater's commitment to La Fura was, in fact, consistent: the fact that it was not up to the challenge should not tarnish the wisdom of the commission. But in the future it should not be forgotten that good programming is not a question of resources, but of ideas.
Josep M. Muñoz is a historian.
A brave Liceu
By José Antich
(Editorial published in the newspaper La Vanguardia. Barcelona, October 29, 2000)
When the echoes of some criticism for the "D.Q." of La Fura dels Baus at the Liceu is already vanished, its general director, Josep Caminal, makes a series of reflections that should not fall on deaf ears and that will surely spark controversy: "If we are not brave and daring in the programming we will end up killing opera ". Is that courage what those who attend the Barcelona Opera Coliseum expect? For some reviews read after the premiere it can be said that no; on the other hand, due to the response given by the spectators and the international resonance that La Fura's work has had beyond our borders, the response would have to be much more nuanced. The budget of the Liceu, despite being important -6,700 million-, is far from other places like Paris. In a global world like the current one, we all have quick information about what is produced in other places. Caminal, with a touch of provocation -but with many doses of sincerity-, adds in the interview published today that the Liceu budget would only pay for the Bastille orchestra in Paris. The second part of the management of Caminal in the Liceu has just begun and his experience in finances and in the reconstruction of the theater well deserves a vote of confidence from the public similar to that given to him by all the administrations.
Fragment of the aforementioned interview with Josep Caminal, director of the Liceu
By Mercè Beltràn
[...] - - What did you think of the "D.Q." of La Fura?
- A compulsory challenge from the Liceu, with an aesthetic discourse of extraordinary beauty. In addition, the complexity and spectacular nature of the work allowed the viewer to contemplate the possibilities of the new Liceu stage. In general, it was well accepted by the public and has had a very important international resonance. It seems to me that it cannot be considered inconvenient to ask for greater complicity from the critics, when the theater assumes these risks in the chapter of the new challenges.