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Musical settings of Cervantes's Don Quixote formed the bill of fare on 12 August at the Koussevitzky Music Shed. Manuel De Falla's one act opera Master Peter's Puppet Show was utterly delightful under the masterful baton of Rafael Frühbeck de Burgos. Unlike the composer's familiar folkloric ballets The Three Cornered Hat and El Amor Brujo the score for Master Peter is spare and harmonically astringent -- music that pays tribute to Renaissance polyphony and Baroque ornamentation.

Bob Brown Puppets' staging of Manuel de Falla's 'Master Peter's Puppet Show'. Photo © 2005 Walter H Scott
Bob Brown Puppets' staging of Manuel de Falla's 'Master Peter's Puppet Show'. Photo © 2005 Walter H Scott

The Bob Brown Puppets (directed by Judy Barry Brown) created a witty, wonderful world of fantasy that encompassed both the puppet play and Don Quixote's dreams and visions. As the composer requested, the singers sang their roles seated among the orchestral musicians while the puppets portrayed the characters. Soprano Awet Andemicael sang the narrative role of The Boy marvelously. Her fluent, electrifying coloratura roulades had that elusive star quality. Tenor Peter Bonder brought incisive declamation to Master Peter. David Wilson-Johnson's warm baritone was mellow and eloquent as Don Quixote. Frühbeck de Burgos perfectly delineated the score's acerbic harmonies, percussive rhythms, and subtle instrumental touches. The bracing harpsichord, trumpet, and string combinations really sizzled.

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Copyright © 4 September 2005 Lawrence Budmen, Miami Beach, USA

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