Man of La Mancha was the first true “concept musical,” in that the over-arching idea or theme is almost more important than the narrative. It was an enormous success with both audiences and critics when it first appeared on Broadway, winning won five Tony Awards ®, including “best musical.”
Like the great lyric works of Rodgers and Hammerstein, Jerome Kern, George Gershwin, and Stephen Sondheim, Man of La Mancha has entered the operatic canon, and is now regularly performed by opera companies who can do justice to its stirring dramatic melodies sung by fully trained lyric voices, accompanied by a full orchestra.
The piece is inspired by Miguel Cervantes’ great novel Don Quixote, but librettist Dale Wasserman framed his tale as a play within a play, and included the character of Cervantes himself. We first meet him in prison, where he is awaiting trial by the Spanish Inquisition. Cervantes presents the story of Don Quixote to his fellow prisoners, who in turn participate in telling the tale, enacting its many colorful roles.
With credits including numerous principal roles at the Royal Opera House, Paris Opera, Chicago Lyric Opera, and more, Welsh baritone Jason Howard is recognized as one of the UK’s leading performers on the international operatic stage. He has received global acclaim for not only his operatic roles, but also his Broadway roles. Howard will make his Portland Opera debut as Don Quixote. Tara Venditti is making her Portland Opera debut as Aldonza, the object of Don Quixote’s reverential love. From the Royal Opera House to Glimmerglass, Venditti is praised for both her beautiful, rich voice and her stage presence alike.
Music Director George Manahan will conduct a score that the Chicago Tribune credits with the “unusual rewards” of “not the typical violin sections but a percussive-heavy combination of brass, woodwinds and flamenco-style guitars.”
Director Alan Paul is the Associate Artistic Director of The Shakespeare Theatre Company in Washington, DC (Recipient of the 2012 Regional Theater Tony Award). In 2014, he received a Helen Hayes nomination for Best Director for Man of La Mancha.