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Published: Sunday, February 27, 2011, 3:59 p.m.

'Don Quixote' sublimely mad

  • Eduardo Chama (Sancho Panza) with Millie (Dapple), and John Relyea (Don Quichotte) with Desperado (Rocinante)

    Rozarii Lynch

    Eduardo Chama (Sancho Panza) with Millie (Dapple), and John Relyea (Don Quichotte) with Desperado (Rocinante)

Seattle Opera's "Don Quixote" is a world in which love and hope thrive in the heart of the story's idealistic main character. Based on Ceravantes' novel, the opera features the colorful and luscious music of Jules Massenet, a French composer.

Set designer Donald Eastman and lighting designer Connie Yun deserve kudos for bringing the story to life right out of the pages of the novel. Giant books built in Seattle Opera's shop serve as the back drop as the classic tale unfolds. Yun's lighting helps underscore the fragile line between dream and reality as Quixote pursues his love.

Desperado and Millie, a horse and donkey from Snohomish County, capture all the attention when they take the stage as mare and steed to the lead singers. During one set change, the audience giggled as we could hear the clop, clop, clop of the animals being led on stage.

But the real stars of this opera were the three lead singers. Polish mezzo-soprano Malgorzata Walewska is gorgeous as Dulcinee. Bass-baritone Eduardo Chama was born to play Sancho Panza.

It was John Relyea, the bass-baritone who sang Don Quixote, who stole the show. He inhabits the role bringing a physicality that underscores his rich voice.

"Don Quixote" is an obscure opera, to be sure, but this performance should help resurrect it. With Relyea as the lead, he will capture the heart of many of an audience.

Dulcinee calls Quixote mad, but a sublime mad. Indeed.

"Don Quixote" plays through March 12. Tickets are at www.seattleopera.org.


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