The magic of puppets in childhood

Teatro infantil de mesa de la editorial Seix y Barral, similar al que pudo tener Falla siendo niño, hacia. 1915. Colección particular.

Manuel de Falla was acquainted with the world of puppets from an early age. While growing up in Cádiz, he saw the puppet shows of La Tía Norica, an Italian company firmly rooted in the city’s popular culture. As an adult, the musician’s words and deeds often betrayed his fondness for that traditional puppetry, famed for its farcical dolls as well as its songs, mockery, interaction with the audience and improvisational tendencies.

Additionally, from the age of nine Falla had his very own little puppet theatre, with which he spent countless hours playing. His first performances were given in the privacy of his home before an audience of one: Manuel’s sister María del Carmen, six years younger than him. The musician brought many stories to life on that little stage, though he remembered acting out the adventures of Don Quixote and Sancho Panza with particular enthusiasm. Did that early experience foreshadow or plant the seed of El retablo de maese Pedro? We cannot say for certain, although Don Quixote clearly had a special place in the artist’s heart even as a boy.

2. Manuel de Falla’s inexhaustible Don Quixote