Beyond a couple of tunes from “Man of a Mancha” most Americans are woefully ignorant of The Ingenious Gentleman Don Quixote of La Mancha (El ingenioso hidalgo don Quixote de la Mancha) by Miguel de Cervantes Saavedra (1547-1616). Even though it is considered one of the greatest books ever written, it is generally not taught below the college level here, and often then only in the original, early 17th century Spanish in which it was written. This is a great pity because it really IS a terrific book!
I fell squarely into the ignorant American category until I finally got around to reading the whole book (it was published in two volumes a decade apart in 1605 and 1615) last year, and so I was excited to see if this new knowledge enhanced my enjoyment of the stage version being offered by Minerva in a new adaptation from various English translations* by Eric. K. Auld.
In a way, I might have been a better judge of the success of this adaptation in speaking to the average audience member if I hadn’t read the novel. Auld has adhered very closely to his source material and so I think I “got” far more than most people will out of this production, which is a very interesting first attempt at bringing what Cervantes’s actually wrote to the stage.