Magnificent puppets

The retable of "Don Quijote de la Mancha"

By National Theatre and Dance Museum

Dom Quijote de la Mancha retableNational Theatre and Dance Museum

The Retable of Don Quijote de la Mancha by José Carlos Barros was created for the 1985 presentation of António José da Silva's seventeenth century puppetry opera at the Gulbenkian Foundation, Lisbon.

The opera by António José da Silva (also known as the Jew), was premiered at the Lisbon's Bairro Alto Theatre, in 1733. This puppetry theater was one of the oldest ones in Portugal.

António José da Silva's opera adapted Cervantes' original plot in a version that criticizes the Portuguese society.

The Portuguese surrealist painter Lima de Freitas designed the set for the opera.

Ultimately the author, António José da Silva "the Jew", was accused by the Inquisition of heresy and sentenced to death. He was one of its latest martyrs.

Let's take a closer look at the main characters of the opera...

The barber (center) is the village's herald. In his introducing discussion with Quijote we are acknowledged of the "sad figure" knight's character and of some other aspects of the plot.

Don Quijote is the unfortunate knight also called of a sad figure. He is the alter ego of Alonso Quijano, turned into a knight after extensive readings of chivalric romances.

Samson, the executioner, supports the barber, but calms down Quijote praising his courage but also his madness.

Both Quijote's nanny and niece criticize Sancho Panza for encouraging the chevalier's delirious adventure plans.

Sancho Panza was Alonso Quijano's servant and also become the Quijote's squire. In the second part of the opera he has a more prominent role as governor of the Lizards Island. In fact the Island was a metaphor used by the author to criticize the Portuguese society.

Sanchica and Teresa, the daughter and the wife of Sancho Panza, although initially opposing the adventurous journey of Sancho with Quijote, quickly agree with the promise of future wealth and fame.

A peasant, confused by Quijote as the reincarnation of his alleged beloved Dulcinea, rejects their attempts and claims.

Montesinos is another knight but he is enchanted underground and Quijote tries to disenchant him.

Quijote meets a nobleman and his wife in a hunt. They flatter Quijote's feats.

The cart with Dulcinea and Merlim (background).

The case of the tavern keeper for adulterating wine was one of the cases judged by Sancho Panza as governor of the Lizards Island.

Credits: Story

Museu Nacional do Teatro e da Dança
Puppet - José Carlos Barros
Set design - José Lima de Freitas
Opera " The life of the great D. Quijote and the fat Sancho Panza"
Author - António José da Silva "the jew"
Performed at the ACARTE Service, Gulbenkian, Lisbon
July 1985
Original presentation at the Bairro Alto Theater (puppetry), Lisbon, 1733

Credits: All media
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