Don Quixote, written by Miguel de Cervantes, and published in 2 volumes in 1605 and 1615
It is the story of a mature man, Alonso Quijan, from La Mancha in Central medieval Spain who should have known better, but who became obsessed with romantic and chivalrous notions after immersing himself in fictional stories of the glorious exploits of knightly heroes.
These accounts so captured his imagination that he set out on journeys of adventure as the gentleman Don Quixote, to live out his obsessions in real life with the support of a simple-minded and loyal squire, Sancho Panza.
More in love with the concept of love and romance, he sacrificed his own comfortable circumstances, to court a peasant girl Dulcinea del Toboso, whom he envisaged as his chaste princess.
He discovers it is not easy to right wrongs. In the process of overcoming oppression, the oppressor becomes the oppressed; the “would be” hero the bandit. Opposition and retaliation are provoked.
There is something quixotic in most of us; delusions of grandeur and unrealistic dreams of our own self-importance, of our own achievements and successes. There is deception, and self-deception.
Eventually we become resigned to the impossibility of realizing our dreams and aspirations. The glory of the dream itself is all that remains.
Man of La Mancha
Initially it was a TV play, produced in 1959 by the successful formerly film director, and then TV writer, Dale Wasserman.
It was inspired by Miguel Cervantes’s 17th century classic Spanish novel, Don Quixote, but it is a play within a play, with Cervantes himself and other prisoners awaiting a hearing with the Spanish inquisition. It combined a semi-fictional episode from Cervantes’ life with scenes from his novel.
In 1965 the play was transformed into a hugely successful musical with lyrics by Joe Darrion, and music by Mitch Leigh. The original Broadway production ran for 2,328 performances, and was revived four times.
The musical featured the popular song “The Impossible Dream”, moving renditions of which can be viewed on You Tube.
The film version was produced in 1972, financed by an Italian production company, and shot in Rome. It featured Peter O’Toole as both Cervantes and Don Quixote, and Sophia Loren as the scullery maid and prostitute Aldonza, whom Don Quixote mistakenly thinks is his princess idol, Dulcinea.
Cervantes and his manservant are imprisoned by the Spanish Inquisition. He is portrayed as an old gentleman who has lost his mind and is subject to a mock trial over his manuscript, by his fellow inmates.
|“The Impossible Dream”
from MAN OF LA MANCHA (1972)
music by Mitch Leigh and lyrics by Joe Darion
|To dream the impossible dream
To fight the unbeatable foe
To bear with unbearable sorrow
To run where the brave dare not go
To right the unrightable wrong
This is my quest
To fight for the right
And I know if I’ll only be true
And the world will be better for this
Categories: In celebration of retirement