Boismortier : Don Quixote visits the Duchess

10, 11 and 12 june 2016
Approximate duration: 
1h45 intermission including

In 1743, two years before Rameau imagined Platée, Boismortier had an extraordinarily modern and preposterous « comic ballet » performed at the Académie royale de musique : Don Quixote visits the Duchess.


In the course of a totally hysterical plot, the hero encounters monsters, magicians, princesses, inhabitants of Japan… a pretest for daring and quirky ballets and choruses. The beauty of music mingles with irreverent parody. Boismortier is little known nowadays, but he was a prolific composer under Louis XI’s reign, in all the fashionable styles in vogue at the time. His first major success was this Don Quixote visits the Duchess, a Ballet Comique he invented with Favart, the libretto genius, who transformed the subject of Don Quixote into a farce of “theatre within the theatre”, full of brilliance and colour. Boismortier’s music sparkles in each phrase of this light comedy where the Duchess makes Don Quixote believe that he meets Dulcinea again and a gallery of characters, among whom the Magician Merlin or the Infante of Congo, when he is unknowingly on the stage of the castle’s private theatre…

Hervé Niquet discovered this gem in 1988 and finally stages it with Corinne and Gilles Benizio (Shirley and Dino), the infernal trio from King Arthur. You are warned, baroque frenzy in view!


Extrait de Don Quichotte chez la Duchesse, Boismortier, 2015.



Joseph Bodin de Boismortier (1689-1755)

Don Quichotte chez la Duchesse (DON QUIXOTE VISITS THE DUCHESS)

Comic opera-ballet in three acts. Libretto by Charles-Simon Favart

First performance at the Académie royale de musique, 12 February 1743



Coproduction : Royal Opera / Château de Versailles Spectacles - Opéra-Théâtre de Metz Métropole
Supported by the Centre de musique baroque de Versailles



Mathias Vidal, Don Quichotte

Marc Labonnette, Sancho Pança

Chantal Santon-Jeffery, Altisidore, Japan Queen

João Fernandes, Montesinos / Merlin / the Translator

Gilles Benizio, the Duke, the Japanese man

Camille Poul, a farmer / a lover / a companion

Charles Barbier, a lover


Philippe Lafeuille, Choreography

Daniel Bevan, Stage sets

Anaïs Heureaux et Charlotte Winter, Costumes

Jacques Rouveyrollis, Lights

Elisabeth Geiger, Chef de chant

Pauline Jolly Assistant director

Jessica Duclos Lighting assistant


Corinne et Gilles Benizio (Shirley et Dino), Director


Le Concert Spirituel

Hervé Niquet, Conductor