Music: Ludwig Minkus
Libretto: Marius Petipa
Reviewer: Elizabeth Vile
Loosely based on the novel by Miguel de Cervantes Don Quixote tells of the eponymous hero’s quest to find adventure and love like that in the books he reads. During his travels he becomes unwittingly embroiled in the relationship between Kitri, an inn keeper’s daughter and her sweetheart Basilio, the barber. Through a series of comic events the lovers problems are resolved and Don Quixote has his fill of excitement and adventure.
Seating myself early in the auditorium I was able to truly appreciate the excitement and expectation that surrounded the Mikhailovsky Ballet’s production of Don Quixote. The audience was a wide mixture of ages and all were very excited about what they were about to see. This was clearly shown through the spontaneous clapping and cheering when the two principle dancers, Natalia Osipova as Kitri and Ivan Vasiliev as Basilio, arrived on stage. These two highly regarded dancers lived up to the expectations placed on them in grand style and produced stunning and technically beautiful performances. Not only could the pair individually amaze but the trust they had between each other created breathtaking and exciting lifts and jumps. The chemistry between the pair was evident and the mixture of love, desire and playfulness created two entertaining and highly watchable characters.
The supporting performers, who included spirited and emotive performances by Evgeny Deryabin, Valeria Zapasnikova, Sabina Yapparova and Anna Kuligina, were all of a high caliber and each individual on stage was totally immersed in their own performance. The company easily filled the cavernous Coliseum stage with colour and consistent movement, there was never a dull moment and for most of the time the audience did not know where to look next. Special mention should go to Marat Shemiunov who made Don Quixote such a loveable and dreamy old man and to Alexey Kuznetsov who created such humor through his portrayal of the servant Sancho Panza.
The sets were effective and clearly set the scene while also leaving the majority of the stage clear for the dancing, the use of a puppet on the windmill was amusing and worked well as did the detailed and beautiful costumes that all involved wore. The two intervals slowed the pace somewhat but I think that was mainly because the audience did not want intervals they just wanted the ballet to keep going!
This was a beautiful and highly accomplished production that was enjoyed by all, no matter what your experience and knowledge of ballet was. The story is clear and easy to follow, the characters are fun and vibrant and the dancing is of the highest quality. An enjoyable night was had by all and Ludwig Minkus’ playful and joyous score stays in your mind all the way home.