From: Cervantes: Bulletin of the Cervantes Society of America 15.2 (1995): 103-05.
Copyright © 1995, The Cervantes Society of America

Esquival-Heinemann, Bárbara. Don Quijote's Sally into the World of Opera. Libretti between 1680 and 1976. New York: Peter Lang, 1993. 176 pp.

     The reception of Spanish Golden Age literature abroad has received to date only sporadic scholarly attention and remains a largely undocumented area of investigation. Given this lacuna, Bárbara Esquival-Heinemann's


104 NANCY L. D'ANTUONO Cervantes

book is a happy addition to this growing, fertile avenue of research. Esquival-Heinemann brings together, for the first time, an array of seventy-three European and Hispanic-American opera libretti drawn from Don Quijote, in whole or in part, over a period of almost three hundred years. The book is comprised of an introduction, six chapters, a conclusion and three appendices. The author undertakes a systematic examination of twenty-two libretti, to show the evolution of differing patterns of interpretation from country to country across various epochs. Within these parameters she explores the influence of the Quijote in the development of operatic genres; the pattern of “favorite” episodes (which is significantly different from nation to nation), the lure of the interpolated stories and the ever-changing role of Don Quijote himself.
     Chapter I explores the development of opera as a genre and the consideration of the libretto as a literary form. Chapters II through VI treat the operatic versions of Cervantes's masterpiece in Italy, Germany and Austria, France, England, and the Hispanic World. Appendix I lists the seventy-three libretti in chronological order. Included in each entry are: date and country of composition, the specific opera genre, the name of the librettist and of the composer, the location of the libretto and, wherever possible, the date and place of the first performance. Esquival-Heinemann makes no claims to comprehensiveness since new information is constantly surfacing. It would have been most helpful, however, if along with the location, the author had provided specific call numbers wherever possible. Appendix II lists the episodes most frequently adapted and the frequency of adaptation. Appendix II is comprised of various illustrations pertinent to discussions within the text: the frontispieces of the Madrid 1615 and the Brusselles 1662 editions of the Quijote; frontispiece and preamble of the 1690 German libretto; the frontispieces of the Vienna 1739 anonymous bilingual (Italian-German) operatic rendition; the 1807 bilingual (French and Italian) pantomime ballet version; the 1843 French ballet opera and the 1795 English opera, the Second Act page of the 1905 Spanish opera and the frontispiece of De Falla's El retablo de Maese Pedro. Also included are various details from the Peasant Wedding by Pieter Breughel the Elder. There follows an ample bibliography and an index.
     Esquival-Heinemann's undertaking is indeed admirable. However, attention must be called to the section on the Quijote in Italy which lends itself to significant amplification, should the author wish to pursue this avenue of investigation in the future. One source of reference might be the theater collection (4,351 plays) of the Biblioteca Casanatense (Cairo, L. e Quilici, P. Biblioteca Teatrale dal '500 al '700. La raccolta della Biblioteca Casanatense, 2 vols., Roma: Bulzoni, 1981). Among its holdings is Il Don Chissiot (sic) della Mancia, “Dramma per musica . . . di Marco Morosini, Venezia: Nicolini, 1680,” Comm. 319/4, which Esquival-Heinemann assumes is lost. The same play may be found at the Biblioteca Nazionale Vittorio Emanuele, Roma, # 35.5.A.15,1. A second “dramma per musica” at the Casanatense, Amaionne, by Fco. Sebastiano Gambino, music by Bernardino Ottani, Torino: DeRossi, 1784, contains as an intermezzo a ballo entitled “Le nozze di Gamaccio.” The author may also wish to

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examine Giacinto Andrea Cicognini's opera scenica, La forza dell'amicitia, overo L'honorato ruffiano di sua moglie, Venezia: Pezzani, 1661 (University of Illinois, Urbana) for possible ties to the “curioso impertinente” episode. In Girolamo Gigli's Un pazzo guarisce l'altro, opera serioridicola, (Siena: Bonetti and Venezia: Rosetti, 1704; Bibl. Casanatense r. xxii. 9) “Don Chisciotte della mancia Cavaliere Errante” (sic) helps cure the galán of his hatred of women and persuades him to return to his wife (the plot is clearly linked to an earlier Spanish comedia or variation thereof). Gigli's opera appears to have its roots in an earlier comedy, D. Chisciotte della Mancia, for which there are a manuscript plot summary (ms. 3788) as well as two printed versions (Roma: Francesco de'Lazari, 1692; Vol Misc. 979/10 and Vol Misc. 1731/7) at the Casanatense. A manuscript plot scheme of Gigli's play, with minor changes, may also be found in the Biblioteca Palatina of Vienna [see E. Maddalena, “Uno scenario inedito,” Akademie der Wissenschaft 143 (1901), Abhandlung XVI, regarding performances in Vienna in 1723]. Given the multiple subgenres which characterized “opera” and the unmistakable and long-lived impact of Spanish Golden Age comedy on the Italian theatrical scene in the seventeenth century it would seem imprudent to ignore any theatrical rendering of the Quijote as a possible intermediary sources for the operatic renditions. I refer to such works as Francisco de Ávila's parodic Entremés famoso de los invencibles hechos de Don Quijote, 1617 or Guillén de Castro's two plays, Don Quijote de la Mancha and El curioso impertinente. Guillén de Castro was one of many Spanish men of letters in viceregal Naples in the early seventeenth century and his works were surely known to Italian dramatists and librettists. A recent publication, Don Chisciotte a Padova. Atti della 1a giornata cervantina, Padova 2 maggio, 1990, Padova, 1992, contains an essay by D. Pini Moro and G. Moro, “Cervantes in Italia: contributo a un saggio bibliografico sul cervantismo italiano (con un appendice sulle trasposizioni musicali),” which should provide an excellent point of departure for further investigations.
     As concerns the French one-act opéra bouffe, Sancho Pança dans son Isle, performed by the Italian troupe in Paris, July 8, 1762, Clarence Brenner [The Théâtre Italien. Its Repertory, 1716-1793 (Berkeley and Los Angeles: University of California Press, 1961)] records that the work remained in the repertory until 1787 (thirty-eight performances). As of 1768 the offerings of the Théâtre Italien also included a work entitled Les Noces de Gamache, which may be a precursor to the 1815 opéra bouffe of the same name by Planard and Bochsa.
     These suggestions for amplification aside, Bárbara Esquival-Heinemann's study brings to our attention a wealth of material whose consideration is long overdue. She argues convincingly for the inclusion of opera libretti deriving from the Quijote in standard bibliographies on the subject and for examining them as literary manifestations in their own right. In so doing she has provided scholars with a rich vein of materials to be mined for many years to come.

Nancy L. D'Antuono
Saint Mary's College, Notre Dame

Prepared with the help of Sue Dirrim
Fred Jehle Publications of the CSA HCervantes