Journey With the Ingenious Gentleman of La Mancha and his fearless followers at University of Mary Washington

Individual Catalog Essay

Miguel de Cervantes completed the novel El Ingenioso Hidalgo Don Quijote de La Mancha, commonly referred to as just Don Quixote, in the year 1615(Don Quijote De La Mancha). Even at that time, the novel was attracting a lot of attention. There was even a copycat that released a second volume of the novel before Cervantes had finished the real Volume II. Fortunately, Cervantes was able to release the real second volume of the novel and maintain his fame and glory. The novel gained such massive amounts of fame that to this day, over 400 years later, it is still quite influential throughout the world, which is evident by the ballet performances, operas, and songs that have been produced throughout the world in the last century.

Marius Petipa (1871)
Don Quixote – Bolshoi Ballet
115 Minutes
November, 2014
Marius Petipa was a French dancer, born as the son of Jean Petipa, a well-known dancer and teacher(Beales). Throughout his life, he practiced and studied dance under his father and various other teachers. Throughout his life, Marius Petipa studied and worked in Brussels, Nantes, the United States, Paris, St. Petersburg, and Madrid; while he was in Madrid, Petipa learned about Spanish dance and other aspects of Spanish culture, such as Don Quixote(Beales). After about 4 years in Madrid, he moved to St. Petersburg and while there he created multiple original works such as La Bayadère and Don Quixote(Beales), which would later be performed by the Bolshoi Ballet in 2014. This ballet performance showcases the entire novel of Don Quixote. While some of the character’s names have been changed, the main storyline remains the same. Petipa traveled all throughout the Northern Hemisphere and worked in almost every city he traveled to. This means he must’ve learned about all the different cultures, and yet he chose to create a ballet about the story of Don Quixote. This shows the impact Cervantes’ novel had throughout the world. No matter where someone travels or how long they’re there, the novel Don Quixote has somehow impacted that area.

Manuel de Falla (1923)
Master Peter’s Puppet Show
27 Minutes
March, 1923
Manuel de Falla was born in Spain, where he took piano lessons from his mother until he moved to Madrid to continue to study music and practice on the piano(Gorlinksi). Falla traveled Paris, where he produced his first piano pieces and songs. A few years after that, he retired to Granada, where in 1922 he composed to the puppet opera Master Peter’s Puppet Show (or El ratable de Maese Pedro), a puppet opera about a scene from Don Quixote. Since he grew up and spent much of his life in Spain, it is no surprise that Cervantes’ novel had an impact on his life. It is surprising that he would choose to make a puppet opera about the novel because it is said that he was, “the most distinguished Spanish composer of the early 20th century. In his music he achieved a fusion of poetry, asceticism, and ardour that represents the spirit of Spain at its purest”(Gorlinksi). Why would such a distinguished and well-known composer create a puppet opera about one of the most influential novels in the world? It is most likely in respect to the childlike nature of the character of Don Quixote. As people get older, they are told to, “stop playing make-believe,” but Don Quixote never truly accepted this piece of advice into his heart. He continued, until the day he died, to follow his childhood imagination.

Funky Aztecs (1992)
“Don Quixote”
4 Minutes 53 Seconds
The group, the Funky Aztecs, is a small rap group from Northern California who is known for pioneering Chicano Rap(Kaye). Chicano rap is, “…a subgenre of Rap music as well as Latin Hip Hop. It’s performers are typically American rappers in the United States West Coast, Southwest and Midwest, with artists usually of Mexican-American/Chicano descent”(“Chicano Rap Music News). Since the Funky Aztecs is such a small, mostly unknown group, there is very little known about their history or their reasoning behind their song choices. The song itself, however, tells its own story. It’s a longer song, nearly 5 minutes, and is a mix of Spanish and English. In essence, the Funky Aztecs retell the story of Don Quixote in modern terms. The song also makes reference to several of the small side-stories that take place within the novel. Unfortunately the group never performed the song live, however it did make it on their album Chicano Blues. This song relates to the book because it was sung by a group of people who didn’t seem to fit in with normal society, but still wanted to pursue their dreams. Prior to Funky Aztecs, Chicano Rap was practically non-existent. They were able to give a voice to those who didn’t previously have one. This is similar to what Don Quixote was attempting to do. His goal was to continue the tradition of chivalry and charitable acts, not in an attempt to get something in return but out of the kindness of someone’s heart.

Coldplay (2010)
“Don Quixote (Spanish Rain)”
3 Minutes 56 Seconds
February, 2010
Coldplay is a rather well-known group that was formed at the University College of London in 1998 by guitarists Martin, a pianist from childhood and also a singer, and Jon Buckland; they were later joined by drummer Will Champion and bassist Guy Berryman(Macnie). The band signed with an agency called Parlophone pretty soon after they released their first couple of songs, but it wasn’t until they released a song in 2001 that they really became popular(Macnie). Since then, they have produced many hit songs, such as “Viva la Vida” and “Paradise.” They debuted the song “Don Quixote” in Buenos Aires in February 2010. It was introduced solely for their Latin America tour and was never officially produced. A band who began with just a couple of friends in college in London ended up going big and creating a song about Miguel de Cervantes’ Don Quixote. This shows the area of impact that Cervantes has had. His novel was not only known to the band, but it was so well known in Latin America that they were able to make a song about it and perform it in Buenos Aires. If Cervantes had hoped that his novel would positively affect the world, his dreams would’ve come true.

The novel Don Quixote has withstood the test of time. Over 400 years later, Miguel de Cervantes’ novel is still impacting the world and changing the lives of every who comes in contact with it. Immediately after the first volume was published in 1605, the novel gained fame. It gained so much fame that a copycat emerged, attempting to steal Cervantes’ fame and notoriety. Thankfully, Cervantes was able to publish his second volume before it was too late. His completed novel was a masterpiece that is still as influential now as it was 400 years ago. While the novel was written in a time of knights and “magic,” it’s influence is still clearly embedded throughout the world in ballet performances, operas, and music.
Works Cited

“Don Quijote De La Mancha, Cervantes – Spanish Literature | Don Quijote.” DonQuijote. Don Quijote Salamanca S.L., n.d. Web.

De Cervantes, Miquel. Don Quixote. Trans. Tom Lathrop. New York: Signet Classics, 2011. Print.

Don Quixote. By Marius Petipa. Chor. Carlos Acosta. David H. Koch Theater, Lincoln Center, New York. Nov. 2014. Performance.

Beales, John W. “Marius Petipa.” Marius Petipa. IPerspectives Internet Solutions, 4 Sept. 2007. Web.

Master Peter’s Puppet Show. By Manuel De Falla. Cond. Vladmir Golschmann. Teatro San Fernando, Seville. 23 Mar. 1923. Performance.

Gorlinski, Virginia. “Manuel De Falla.” Encyclopedia Britannica Online. Encyclopedia Britannica, 22 Mar. 2012. Web.

Marco, Pee Wee, and Marco Prada. Don Quixote. Funky Aztecs. 40 Ounce Records, 1992. MP3.

Kaye, Robert. “Funky Aztecs.” Wikipedia. Wikimedia Foundation, 16 Oct. 2016. Web.

“Chicano Rap Music News & Videos | LatinRapper.com.” Chicano Rap Music News & Videos | LatinRapper.com. Latin Rapper, 2004. Web.

Martin, Chris, GuyGuy Berryman, Johnn Buckland, and Will Champion. Don Quixote. Coldplay. 2010. MP3.

Macnie, Jim. “Coldplay Biography.” Rolling Stone. Rolling Stone, n.d. Web.

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