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Chapter X:

The adventures of Topo Gigio in the Milan workshop.

Back in Milan I went back to my routine at the workshop, much had changed though, hustling and bustling had increased as the Peregos had taken up two major endeavors at the same time. One was “Retablo di Maese Pedro”, an opera in one act which text was taken from “Don Quixote” by Cervantes and the music by De Falla. The Opera was commissioned by Teatro Comunale Di Bologna and directed by Maria Perego. The other project was a 30 minute film in collaboration with John Levine, an important American producer that Maria had met in New York.

The film was a fairy tale titled “Rosy’s Birthday” and the main characters were us, little mice, Rosy, Ino and naturally me, but along came some little animals of the forest, the mushrooms were gnomes, with hats in the shape of mushrooms, and the Spring Fairy was a beautiful puppet with blue eyes and long blond hair, dressed in veils and flown by butterflies. The direction was by Federico Caldura, Maria’s husband, who was working with an innovative technology, the Elettronikam (the images were shot in film but could be seen in real time on a monitor), here all the animators were happy as they could control their performance and the puppets movements therefore having less of a chance for errors.

All of the characters of the “Retablo” and those of the film, were transferred in a huge workshop, next to ours, rented for the occasion. This workshop had two large rooms: in one they had laid out the sets of the film and in the other the elements that were needed for the rehearsal of the “Retablo”. During the night, after we finished working and after Maria and Federico had gone home, we met altogether in the “Retablo”’s room, but not until we called in all the marionettes and puppets, therefore all of our friends, that had been left in the other workshop. We listened attentively to the stories told by “Don Quixote”, the large puppet four meters high, made of rags with a face sculpted by the light and shadows and light played to reveal the dramatic aspects of his soul. So his semblances should have scared us, but in analyzing him well, he resulted being the incarnation of a world fantasy, the cult of chivalry, of friendship, desire of adventure, of irony and therefore of love. We listened, enraptured and entertained as if he was a grandfather telling a story.

Listening, I lived along with him the indignation against injustice and within me I felt the birth of rebellion against all the evils in the world, at the same time the gift of forgiving those who don’t know the beauty of acts of chivalry, the joy of adventure and the purity that overcomes when you do an act of selfless love.

When we said goodnight to each other, we all felt like we had learned something invaluable, that is to give is more gratifying than to receive. I hope I did not bore you with these digressions on good deeds, but I wanted to communicate my enthusiasm for Cervantes and his character “Don Quixote”. Above all in some way to convince you, if it its needed but I hope not, that getting closer to what has been written in the centuries by great writers, it’s extremely important not only for our knowledge and happiness but also for the shaping of our personality.

Chapter XI - A fairy tale as told by Topo Gigio and Friends >>