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More controversial is Mariame Clément’s Don Quichotte, filmed at Bregenz last year. It is a patchy opera; despite my love for Massenet I can never quite forget that when it was revived at ENO in the 1990s it was held in low esteem and referred to in-house as ‘Donkey Shit’. Clément starts by showing the controversial Gillette advert, ‘The best a man can be’, which is harangued by someone planted in the audience, and then segues into the opera. The concept becomes increasingly apparent, as each act is a separate vignette that reflects how a man is perceived and can behave. Act I is creakily traditional; II is set in a modern hospital ward where Quichotte tilts a huge extractor fan; III shows him as Spiderman, beaten by thugs; IV is a contemporary office where misogyny flourishes; and finally a simple and affecting death scene in V. It is fascinating but sometimes patchy in linking itself back to the ad. Two factors help unite everything. Gábor Bretz is a stupendous Don Quichotte, his voice perhaps not inky enough, but his commitment to every incarnation of his character is perfectly etched and incredibly touching. And Daniel Cohen’s conducting is very clean and precise, and he avoids getting bogged down in excess. Add David Stout’s loyal Sancho and Anna Goryachova’s sensuous Dulcinée (if sometimes a little wayward of pitch) and it is a potent blend.

Francis Muzzu Read the full review on Agora Classica

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