By Henry C. Mayer

Louisville Ballet drops the curtain on its current season with a thoroughly new presentation of "Don Quixote."

Its highlights include, but are not confined, to the following: a striking musical score by Ludwig (Louis) Minkus; imaginative choreography by Marius Petipa, which has delighted many audiences for 130 years; staging by Alun Jones with assistance by Dale Brannon for the fight scene in Act; III plus the special lighting talents of Michael Ford.

There's more: Jeff Holland Cook will direct a live orchestra and a very carefully chosen cast. There are four performances over three days: April 22-24, which include a Saturday matinee. The two principal lead roles are divided between Clark Reid and David Goud as Basilio, and Elizabeth Hartwell and Sarah Comstock as Kitri.

A bit of background information on Don Quixote and its author, Miguel Cervantes, (1547-1616) can enhance enjoyment in the performance. With the publication of the original Don Quixote, which is the genesis of the modern novel, Cervantes became for Spain what Homer had become for Greece, Shakespeare for the English-speaking world and Goethe for the Germans.

Don Quixote also became a universal classic and it introduces readers to Hispanidad. It is also more than a little autobiographical. While one might reasonably suspect that Faust reflects Goethe to a certain degree, it is both Don Quixote and his servant Sancho who together can tell us about Cervantes. It was written about the end of the golden age of Spain, yet with all its delineation of the Spanish personality, it also illumines something about what it can be to become human. The recent musical, Man of La Mancha, especially "the Impossible Dream" are particularly reflective of this characteristic.

For more information and tickets to a performance, call 583-3150. Come, hear and see for yourself. And if your are so inclined, drop a note to this writer c/o Louisville Music News, 3705 Fairway Lane Louisville Ky. 40207

A Preview of Kentucky Opera's 1999-2000 Season

Thanks to Deborah Sandler and Jerry Ferrar, here is a preview of the coming season at Kentucky Opera. Almost every singer in the coming three productions will be making his or her debut before a local audience. By contrast, each opera has been here before.

The curtain raiser will be a perennial favorite, L'Boheme (the Bohemians), by that master of melody and realism Giacomo (James) Puccini (1856-1924). The story comes a novel of title by Henri Munger. (It also seems that Puccini's rival, Ruggiero Leoncavallo, also had aspirations to base an opera on that novel.)

Puccini's style of expression was described by himself this way: "I love the small things; the only music I can or will make is that of small things . . . as they are true and full of passion and humanity and touch the heart."

This writer suggests that one way to savor should include a close reading of his libretto, as few composers have been as meticulous with them as he.

Two performances are planned: Friday, November 19 at 8 p.m. and. on November 21 at 2 p.m., both at Whitney Hall in the Kentucky Center for the Arts.

Kentucky Opera's first presentation in 2000 will be Carlisle Floyd's chief work, Susannah. It is generally agreed that the action takes place in rural and (perhaps) mountainous Tennessee: Floyd's inspiration is originally the story recounted in the Book of Daniel. One local observer adversely compared it to Janacek's Jenufa but time and more frequent performances have reversed that judgment. It is now rated one of the three leading 20th century American operas. Floyd, who wrote both the libretto and music, was not quite thirty when he completed it. Performances are set for February 5, 11 and 13, all at 8 p.m. in the Brown Theater.

The season finale will be Johanna Strauss' comic operetta, Die Fledermaus. This will be Kentucky Opera's fifth production of this work, which has charmed audiences for 125 years. Local performances are planned for March 10 and a matinee on Sunday, March 12. They will be replete with gorgeous melodies, including an unforgettable Overture and breathtaking costumes.