In 1743, two years before Rameau imagined Platée, Boismortier had an extraordinarily modern and preposterous « comic ballet » performed at the Académie royale de musique : Don Quixote visits the Duchess.
In the course of a totally hysterical plot, the hero encounters monsters, magicians, princesses, inhabitants of Japan… a pretest for daring and quirky ballets and choruses. The beauty of music mingles with irreverent parody. Boismortier is little known nowadays, but he was a prolific composer under Louis XI’s reign, in all the fashionable styles in vogue at the time. His first major success was this Don Quixote visits the Duchess, a Ballet Comique he invented with Favart, the libretto genius, who transformed the subject of Don Quixote into a farce of “theatre within the theatre”, full of brilliance and colour. Boismortier’s music sparkles in each phrase of this light comedy where the Duchess makes Don Quixote believe that he meets Dulcinea again and a gallery of characters, among whom the Magician Merlin or the Infante of Congo, when he is unknowingly on the stage of the castle’s private theatre…
Hervé Niquet discovered this gem in 1988 and finally stages it with Corinne and Gilles Benizio (Shirley and Dino), the infernal trio from King Arthur. You are warned, baroque frenzy in view!
Extrait de Don Quichotte chez la Duchesse, Boismortier, 2015.
Performed at the Royal Opera of Versailles, located in the grounds of the Castle, one of the major opera houses.
Mathias Vidal, Don Quichotte
Marc Labonnette, Sancho Pança
Chantal Santon-Jeffery, Altisidore, Japan Queen
João Fernandes, Montesinos / Merlin / the Translator
Gilles Benizio, the Duke, the Japanese man
Camille Poul, a farmer / a lover / a companion
Charles Barbier, a lover
Philippe Lafeuille, Choreography
Daniel Bevan, Stage sets
Anaïs Heureaux et Charlotte Winter, Costumes
Jacques Rouveyrollis, Lights
Elisabeth Geiger, Chef de chant
Pauline Jolly Assistant director
Jessica Duclos Lighting assistant
Corinne et Gilles Benizio (Shirley et Dino), Director
Le Concert Spirituel
Hervé Niquet, Conductor