With all the excitement on her birthday, Jenn glossed over the main event Saturday night. I procured excellent tickets to the opening night performance of Don Quixote. In addition, I got us some pre-show talk tickets in hopes that I might learn something about the story behind the opera before the actual performance.
The director of education told us she would talk about themes from the performance but not give away the entire story because she wanted us to savor the discovery ourselves. The talk was very informative on general operatic concepts, but it was less revealing on what to expect from the upcoming performance.
We learned about the concept of “Knight Errant,” which is a knight that wanders the land in search of adventure. Imagination is another theme from the performance. Finally, the concept of generosity was interwoven as well.
After an hour-long lecture on medieval chivalric romantic themes, Jenn and I were ravenous. It had been hours since our amazing blackened salmon sandwiches. Luckily, the Seattle opera hall had a sit-in restaurant. With only 30 minutes ‘til the opening act, we didn’t think we could order anything but a salad or quick appetizer.
Our polite server alleviated our concerns and told us anything from the menu could be out within 5 minutes. I ordered the chicken dish and Jenn had some vegetable contraption. From the quick turnout rate, we deduced that the meals must have been pre-made and were warmed up once ordered. The flavor was still good though. We scarfed down our meals and drained our wineglasses with a few minutes to spare, then power-walked to our seats.
The opera was amazing even though I could not understand a single word since it was sung in French. I watched the non-verbal clues and body language, and relied on the English translation above to understand the key points of the story. Two points stand out for me:
Cause is Everything
At one point in the story, Don Quixote confronts a band of armed thieves and demands the return of a stolen necklace that belongs to his love Lady Dulcinea. Though clearly outnumbered, Don Quixote does not back down when the head thief asks why the jewel is so important. Don Quixote replies that the jewel means nothing but the cause means everything. He was going to do what’s right even if it cost him his life.
Generosity is the Greatest Gift of All
Throughout the story, Don Quixote graciously gives his wealth to the downtrodden. His sidekick Sancho jokingly mourns the loss of comfortable shelter at inns and filling hot meals because his lord insists on giving all his money away to beggars. However, Don Quixote’s open heart eventually wins him over and Sancho sees the value of uninhibited generosity.
After the show, I was moved to give a few alms to the homeless. My first opportunity presented itself on our walk back to the hotel, but instinctively, I said no. I immediately felt like the good Don would disapprove.
Now that I am back in San Francisco where homeless abound, I will have plenty of opportunity to flex that aspect of chivalry.
Strength and Honor,