Don Quijote de la Mancha
16 Theatralische Abenteuer
In his opera ›Don Quijote de la Mancha‹, based on the novel by Miguel de Cervantes, Hans Zender dedicates himself to a tragic yet comical tale: Don Quijote, a member of the landed gentry with a great predilection for chivalrous novels, has delved so deeply into the world of dragon- and giant-slayers, evil sorcerers and beautiful damsels that he sets out to embody the ideals he has gleaned from books in real life. What is reality, what fantasy? That is the central question leading to arguments between servant and master. The perceptions of Sancho Pansa and the Knight of the Sorrowful Countenance differ widely, leading to a humorous struggle between them. The »19 Theatrical Adventures«, as the subtitle describes them – scenes that vary in instrumentation and can be performed in any order – form a mosaic of various perspectives on the action. Like Hans Zender’s two other operas, ›Stephen Climax‹ and ›Chief Joseph‹, ›Don Quijote de la Mancha‹ is also characterised by a complex interweaving of spaces, times and theatrical actions, making this a structurally extraordinary piece of musical theatre: the individual elements – language, music, singing, acting and instrumental playing – are isolated from each other, only to be combined anew in each of the knight’s individual adventures. This structure also reflects the torn soul of the tragicomic title hero.
Hans Zender is a major figure in Hessen’s musical life: born in Wiesbaden in 1936, the composer and conductor taught composition as a professor at the Frankfurt Music Academy. In 1997 he was the recipient of the Frankfurt Music Prize and the Goethe Prize of the City of Frankfurt; in 2002 the Culture Award of Hessen followed. He has enjoyed an amicable collaboration with Ensemble Modern from the very beginning. It was Hans Zender who offered decisive impulses for the founding of Ensemble Modern in 1980 and who initiated the series of moderated concerts ›Happy New Ears‹ in cooperation with the Frankfurt Opera in 1993.
On the occasion of his 80th birthday, Ensemble Modern dedicates not only the performance of ›Don Quijote de la Mancha‹ to him, but also a Happy New Ears concert at the Frankfurt Opera. Johannes Kalitzke, who also conducts ›Don Quijote‹, discusses Zender's ›33 Veränderungen über 33 Veränderungen‹, a composed interpretation of Beethoven's ›Diabelli Variations‹, with him, and also conducts the work, among others.