A four hundred year old novel and an opera almost never performed in Sweden are being given new life at Folkoperan. Inspired by Gustave Doré's illustrations, director Carl Johan Karlson has created an operatic production in which the boundaries between the grotesque, the ridiculous and the deadly serious are prised apart.

What can we learn from an unlikely anti-hero who despite deceit, violence and ridicule, never doubts his own ability, in the grandeur of love and the inherent goodness of the human soul? Massenet's opera Don Quijote will open at Folkoperan on 20 September 2018. The cast includes Lars Arvidson, Marcus Jupither and Katija Dragojevic.

Cervante's novel in two parts about Don Quijote is considered to be one of the most influential works of modern western literature while Massenet's Don Quichotte opera was first performed in 1910. The knight Don Quixote and his faithful squire Sancho Panza charge windmills, rescue widows and runaway cats. Don Quixote represents the old-fashioned ideal of knighthood and burns with conviction. The work has been interpreted and reinterpreted through the ages – is he an idealist, a romantic, a fundamentalist or simply suffering from psychosis and in need of treatment?

This hallucinatory tale has persuaded Carl Johan Karlson towards an interpretation that mixes all ages and where Gustave Doré's classic illustrations provide the inspiration for a black and white world of contrasts.

And how does he actually view the relationship between Don Quichotte and his constant companion Sancho Panza? In this world of unlimited opportunities, a creative triangular drama plays out in which Don Quijote seeks to win the favours of La belle Dulcinée by retrieving a necklace of hers stolen by a group of bandits.

“Don Quijote is as much a comic story about an unlikely anti-hero knight as a story of a person who, not for a single second, doubts the grandeur of love and the inherent goodness of the human soul. Isn't that something we need in our time? Someone who blindly believes in and stands up for something, even though it seems impossible and everyone around him shouts: Fool! Why is it such a radical notion to live in accordance with such lofty and glorious ideals? Don't we all have something we ought to be prepared to lay down our life for?” Director Carl Johan Karlson asks.

Jules Massenet was one of the most popular French composers of the turn of the last century. His reputation was consolidated with operas such as Werther, Manon and Thaïs. He often nurtured local colour in his music with its roots in French romanticism. This was also the case with Don Quijote, whose overture features rhythmic elements from Spanish music.

Don Quijote is Carl Johan Karlson's first production at Folkoperan. He is resident director of Riksteatern where he has directed the Emperor of Portugallia, Dimensions, Good People and Cat on a Hot Tin Roof. He is also a playwright and actor, has performed stand-up, drag shows and other kinds of performance. His art often revolves around the portrayal of gender and sexuality.

Don Quijote at Folkoperan autumn 2018

Music: Jules Massenet
Orchestral Arrangement: Anders Högstedt
Libretto: Henri Cain
Dramatic Composition: Stefan Johansson
Swedish adaptation: Mira Bartov
Directed by: Carl Johan Karlsson
Set Design & Costumes: Magdalena Åberg
Lighting Designer: Torkel Blomkvist
Masks & Wigs: Therésia Frisk
Musical direction to be announced at a later date.
Conductors to be announced at a later date.

Cast

Don Quijote: Lars Arvidson
Sancho Panza: Marcus Jupither
Dulcinée: Katija Dragojevic

Choir, dancers and orchestra
Additional casting to be announced shortly.

Don Quijote will open at Folkoperan in Stockholm on 20 September 2018 and then play through the autumn. Tickets can be booked at www.folkoperan.se or by phone +46 (0)8 616 07 50.

Cast profiles

Don Quijote: Lars Arvidson, bass-baritone, is familiar to Folkoperan audiences from roles such as Satyagraha, Mozart's Requiem, La Bohème and Das Rheingold.  At the Royal Swedish Opera in Stockholm he has sung the title role in The Marriage of Figaro and Don Basilio in The Barber of Seville and most recently Dr van Helsing in Dracula. At the Malmö Opera he has performed in One Thousand and One Nights, Parsifal, Lear and Le comte Ory. Other engagements include in Admeto in Leipzig, in Tamerlano at Händel festspiele in Göttingen and in Wozzeck at NorrlandsOperan.

Sancho Panza: Marcus Jupither, baritone. In Sweden Marcus Jupither has performed at the Royal Swedish Opera, Malmö Opera, Wermland Opera and Göteborgsoperan. On the international stage, he has worked at L’Opéra Bastille in Paris, The Norwegian National Opera, The National Theatre in Prague, Frankfurt Opera House and has performed in operas in Mannheim, Karlsruhe, Riga, Aix-en-Provence and Brussels. At Folkoperan, he has previously sung in La Bohème (1999), Das Rheingold (2002), Un ballo in maschera (2003), Tosca (2003) and The Tales of Hoffmann (2015).

Dulcinée: Katija Dragojevic, mezzo-soprano. Over the past year, Katija Dragojevic has performed in Cosi fan tutte at the Semper Oper in Dresden, Carmen at The Finnish National Opera and at the Royal Swedish Opera in the new opera Förställningen by Sven-David Sandström. In 2017 she has also made guest appearances at Grand Théâtre de Genève in the title role in Fantasio by Offenbach. Dragojevic has sung most major mezzo roles at opera houses in Sweden. On the international stage, she has sung at The Royal Opera House Covent Garden in London, at the Salzburg Festival, at Teatro alla Scala in Milan and at L'Opéra Bastille in Paris.

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