Vida do grande D. Quixote de la Mancha, e do gordo Sancho Pança
By Antonio José da Silva, O Judeu.
Edition and introduction by Maria Fernanda de Abreu.
Translation by Ana Belén Cao Miguez.
The same year that Pasquini’s opera Sancio Panza governatore dell’isola Barattaria was performed at the court of Vienna, this Vida do grande D. Quixote de la Mancha e do gordo Sancho Pança was performed in Lisbon, at the popular theatre of the Bairro Alto. It is the best known, the most popular, the most published and the most performed recreation of Don Quixote in Portuguese, not only in Portugal, where it was first staged in October 1733 in Lisbon, but also in Brazil, birthplace of its author, António José da Silva, also known as “O Judeu”, the most popular and recognized of the 18th century Portuguese playwrights.
This work is considered the first Portuguese opera. Most probably, the performance of the quixotic characters in the Teatro do Bairro Alto in Lisbon did not have the same pomp and circumstance as in Vienna, nor the same scenic resources. And the fact is that, apart from everything else, this was a theatre of bonifrates, or puppets made of poor materials such as cork or pine wood, articulated with wire and manipulated through rods.
It is very likely that this quixotic recreation, undoubtedly part of a solid European fashion, will bring a specific trace: the presence, more or less explicit, of inquisitorial censorship and of the arbitrary powers and injustices exercised by the Holy Office on on judaizing New Christians.