Don Quixote is in his study, engrossed in a book about ancient chivalry. He falls asleep and dreams that he is a knight defending his ideal woman, Dulcinea. While he sleeps, Sancho Panza bursts through the door. The gluttonous Sancho has stolen a ham, and a group of exasperated housewives is pursuing him. Startled by the commotion, Don Quixote turns the angry women out of the room. An idea then comes to him: He will make Sancho his squire, and together they will set out on an adventure to defend virtue and punish those who don’t uphold the code of chivalry.
ACT I: A SQUARE IN BARCELONA
At a square in Barcelona, festivities and dancing are taking place. Kitri, daughter of the innkeeper, professes her love for Basilio, a barber.
Frances Chung as Kitri in Tomasson/Possokhov’s Don Quixote
Kitri’s father Lorenzo spots the lovers in the crowd and separates them, insisting that Kitri will marry the wealthy, foppish nobleman Gamache. Don Quixote and Sancho Panza’s arrival in the square causes a commotion. When Don Quixote sees Kitri, he mistakes her for Dulcinea, and the two briefly dance a minuet. At the height of the merriment, Kitri and Basilio sneak off, pursued by Don Quixote, Sancho Panza, Lorenzo and Gamache.
ACT I I , SCENE 1: THE SPANISH COUNTRYSIDE
Kitri and Basilio meet a group of pastoral nomads in a field of windmills and are warmly welcomed to their celebration. Kitri and Basilio hide just before Don Quixote, Sancho Panza, Gamache, and Lorenzo arrive on horseback at the same spot. Don Quixote, Sancho Panza, Gamache, and Lorenzo are invited to watch a puppet show.
During the performance, Don Quixote mistakes the puppet heroine for Dulcinea. With sword in hand, he rushes to defend her, destroying the puppet stage. Confused, he thinks a nearby windmill is a threatening giant and strikes at it. Caught by its sail, Don Quixote is hurled to the ground and falls into a deep sleep.
ACT I I , SCENE 2: THE DREAM
Don Quixote dreams he is a knight surrounded by forest nymphs and cupids; in the dream, Kitri symbolizes his ideal woman, Dulcinea.
At sunrise, Sancho Panza, Lorenzo, and Gamache arrive, interrupting his dream. Now sympathetic to the young lovers’ situation, Don Quixote attempts to lead Lorenzo and Gamache astray.
ACT I I , SCENE 3: A TAVERN
Don Quixote, Sancho Panza, Gamache, and Lorenzo finally catch up with Kitri and Basilio in a tavern.
Once again Lorenzo insists Kitri accept Gamache’s proposal. In response, Basilio fakes suicide. Kitri begs Don Quixote to persuade Lorenzo let her marry Basilio—it was the young man’s final wish before his death. When Don Quixote threatens Lorenzo with his sword, he gives his consent and blesses the lovers. Instantly Basilio comes back to life.
ACT III: THE WEDDING
There is much merrymaking as the village celebrates the marriage of Kitri and Basilio. With Don Quixote as the guest of honor, the happy lovers dance for him.
Don Quixote congratulates them, then bids farewell to all. Together with Sancho Panza, Don Quixote continues on his adventures.
Header photo: Angelo Greco and Mathilde Froustey // © Erik Tomasson