Saturday, September 28, 2013

Feliz cumpleaños!!

Sunday September 29th. A day of great portent and importance. 

And not only because it's the date of my audition (may the Force be with me), but because it's the 466th birthday of our favorite author, Miguel de Cervantes, author of "Don Quixote".  

Happy Birthday, Miguel !!!  

Wikipedia portrait of Cervantes, seen here not blowing out the candles on his cake.

If that collar he's wearing reminds you of something, that may be because Cervantes is only seventeen years older than Shakespeare.  I wonder if they ever met.  ("Thou art a writer too, forsoothe? I shall buy for thee this ale, that we might bemoan our tragic fate as brothers.").

Cervantes is credited with inventing the modern novel, and while he was at it, he invented the sequel, too; the famous Don Quixote was published in two parts, in 1605 and 1615 [an early George RR Martin, no doubt]. Among his other accomplishments:  Cervantes was a purchasing agent for the Spanish Armada and a soldier in the Spanish Naval Marines. His left hand was permanently disabled in a naval battle, but he continued to serve in the military.  He was captured by Algerians and held as a slave for five years, but was eventually ransomed and rejoined his family in Madrid.

Cervantes was married - to a much younger woman - in 1584; an uncle of his wife is said to have served as something of a model for Don Quixote.  He actually did work for a while as a tax collector, and was in fact jailed more than once for 'irregularities' in his accounts and/or for bankruptcy; this is apparently the inspiration for the dungeon setting of our play.  

Most of the elements of "Man of La Mancha" are taken from the first section of the novel: fighting the windmills, the vigil in the courtyard of the inn, and the episode with the barber and the shaving basin.  In the novel, Don Quixote has never actually met Dulcinea, she is just a farm girl from a nearby town.  Happily for the mezzo-sopranos among us, Dulcinea in the play is a much more, er, colorful figure.

Cervantes lived much of his life, including his final years, in Madrid.  In Plaza Mayor, Madrid, is a large bronze statue of Don Quixote and Sancho Panza; sorry for the poor quality of the photograph. Just ignore the stupid tourist climbing around up there.  

Is she really wearing a LOGON tee-shirt?

I went looking for Cervantes quotes on the intertubes, and found the following: 

One man scorned and covered with scars still strove with his last ounce of courage to reach the unreachable stars; and the world will be better for this. 

Sound familiar????  I wonder if his estate is still getting royalties.

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