Coming up in Philly Music: Piffaro presents a digital revival of one of its biggest hits

2 minute read

Five years ago, Piffaro presented one of its most spectacular successes. The Musical World of Don Quixote was a musical tour through 16th-century Spain featuring a cast studded with guest stars. For their third digital concert of the season, Piffaro is presenting a 75-minute version of the original concert assembled from videos taken at the time.

An old new world

The Musical World of Don Quixote may be the only musical show in which a bouncy chorus for galley slaves is one of the jolliest pieces on the program. The script follows Don Quixote’s story from the onset of his madness to his death, but it’s primarily a musical portrait of the world Cervantes depicted as he recounted the protagonist's adventures. Cervantes had explored that world through one of the most varied careers any novelist has experienced, starting with his birth as the son of a nomadic barber-surgeon. By the time he wrote his comic epic, he had been a soldier who fought in one of the great battles of his time, a captive who spent five years as a Moorish slave, a purchasing agent for the Spanish Armada, and a tax collector.

Piffaro’s musical portrait of this world includes encounters with a wedding, church services, puppeteers, peasants, sex workers, hog gelders, and the aforementioned galley slaves. The musical numbers range from country dances to the solemn rites that accompany Don Quixote's death.

Piffaro’s musicians are a star act in the world of early music (the catch-all term for Renaissance and Baroque music). The guests who joined them for this event were all performers with the same kind of stature. The vocals were handled by American-Uruguayan soprano Nell Snaidas and Grammy-nominated male vocal quartet New York Polyphony. The guest instrumentalists include musicians who specialize in early music versions of percussion, double-reed instruments, and the guitar.

What, When, Where, and Accessibility:

Piffaro, the Renaissance Band, will premiere its digital revival of The Musical World of Don Quixote on Friday, March 5, at 7:30pm, with a livestreamed watch party featuring chats with the musicians. After that, the video will be available online through March 11. Tickets are $15.

You can view the galley slave song on YouTube. Make sure you have closed captioning turned on.

Image Description: An oil painting of Don Quixote on a horse with a shield and joust sword, standing at a crossroad with another man, Sancho Panza, on a smaller horse.

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