Man of La Mancha LPSeveral weeks ago, I saw a movie that completely blew my mind.  The film was “Matthew: The Visual Bible” and  the actor who played Matthew and narrated the film was Richard Kiley. Hearing his voice again took me all the way back to childhood.  Well the truth is, when the movie began, I started jumping around the living room shouting, “Don Quixote is Matthew!?!?!” over and over and over again.  As an opera singer, I’d love to tell you that the first musical influence in my life was Placido Domingo or Luciano Pavarotti, but the truth is, Richard Kiley introduced me to music.  I was a kid in grade school when my father’s job transferred our whole family to New Jersey for one year – 1966.  I didn’t know what musical theater was and was delighted when Dad took us to see Richard Kiley who delivered the performance of a life time as Don Quixote in the Broadway musical, “Man of La Mancha. “  I was absolutely transfixed and I remember that night as the most exciting and meaningful experience of my young life. That performance of “Man of La Mancha” had a major impact on my life as it was during that performance I realized my future just had to include story-telling through music in some form or other.  Little did I know where that desire would eventually take me.  In those days, music was recorded onto LP records and believe it or not, I still have that recording of “La Mancha” in its bright yellow jacket.  OH, what fun it has been to listen to that album over and over again during the last several weeks. I”m sure my neighbors are sick to death of hearing me sing all the parts.  HA!

For those not familiar with “Man of La Mancha,” it’s actually a story within a story. Sixteenth-century writer, Miguel de Cervantes, is thrown into prison during the Spanish Inquisition and in order to keep the other prisoners from stealing everything he has brought with him into captivity, Cervantes entertains them with the story of Don Quixote, a delusional old man who believes he is a knight on his quest to right unrightable wrongs.

What I particularly latched onto during the performance was the concept of “Dulcinea.” Aldonza was the female lead’s name and she was a woman who had lived through the ugly, harsh side of life and was treated accordingly.  She was called a “whore” in the musical, and as child I did not understand what that word meant, but I knew that Aldonza should never have been treated as poorly as she was.  When Don Quixote lays eyes on her for the first time, he looks past the tragedy that has become her existence, only sees her beauty and perfection and calls her his lady, Dulcinea.   As a child, I struggled with self-esteem issues from a very early age.  Most people I know have had similar struggles – maybe it’s just part of the human condition as we all try to negotiate the fractured, broken creation in which we live.  When I heard Quixote call her Dulcinea, I started wondering if anyone in my life would ever see who I am underneath all the self-esteem issues that plagued me and see me for the beautiful little girl I so wanted to be.

And that brings me back to the film, “Matthew.”  I had never really associated Jesus and Don Quixote, but I think there are similarities.  The Jesus I saw portrayed in the film looked right past the imperfections and the ugly things life had done to people and saw only the beauty of who God created each individual to be.  As I watched the film, I took that personally.  I knew the portrayal of a joyful, passionate, intimate, affectionate Jesus in the film was Truth and I also realized that Jesus looks at me the same way Quixote looked at Aldonza.  Jesus sees each of us as His exquisite treasure, no matter how many ways life has beaten us down and scarred us.  He loves us with an intimate, passionate love that defies description.

At the end of “La Mancha,” Aldonza’s boss wants her to return to “work” but she refuses saying that her name is no longer Aldonza, but is now Dulcinea.  My life and broken dreams look very, very different from those of Aldonza”s, but unconditional love has affected us both in similar ways. The ramifications of how God used actor, Bruce Marchiano’s,  portrayal of Jesus in “Matthew – The Visual Bible” to deliver Christ”s unconditional love, affection and joy into my heart are too deep and vast to go into in the confines of this particular blog.  But I will say this.  God reached into my heart, broken by life”s disappointments, and massaged healing into the deepest recesses of my soul. It has been as profound a thing as I”ve ever experienced and just one of the results is that I can now see myself through the eyes of Don Quixote . . . or more importantly, through the eyes of my Savior, Jesus.  Everyone calls me Marcia, but my name is Dulcinea.