By Jerry Nordquist
The Bolshoi Ballet closed its 2015/16 HD Live from Moscow season with a brilliant production of Don Quixote. With a new choreographic version (by Alexei Fadeyechev) of this old war horse, originated by Marius Petipa and Alexander Gorsky, the Bolshoi gave me (and many others) a chance to see the full length version of this legendary ballet for the first time. Highlights and one act versions I have seen, but never the whole three hour plus Bolshoi signature version.
Petipa based his ballet on the novel Don Quixote by Cervantes. Using three chapters of the work, he came up with the story of a young couple in love – Kitri (Ekaterina Krysanova) and Basillio (Seymon Chudin). But since Basillio is just a lowly barber, Kitri’s father wants her to marry the foppish nobleman Gamache (Denis Medvedev) instead. Don Quixote (Alexei Loparvech) and his squire Sancho Pansa (Roman Simachev) come on the scene to set everything right – a big third act at the palace where Kitri and Basillio get married. In between, there is spectacular dancing by a huge cast in splendid new costuming. Since we are in Spain we get Spanish dancing, Gypsy dancing, Bolero, Fandango and lots of hands on hips. Kitri and Basillio get the most spectacular dancing and in each of the three acts they stop the show.
As it was with the other HD Live performances by the Bolshoi this season, the camera work was outstanding. And as usual the intermissions were very interesting, Particularly the second one where the new Director of the Bolshoi Ballet was introduced. He had been on the job for three weeks and he gave no indication if the Bolshoi was headed in a new direction, would continue bringing in new ballets and choreographers or move back into a more conservative mode. The 1916/17 HD Live season for the Bolshoi Ballet will be announced April 27, which should give some idea where the company is headed.
Cervantes’ eccentric hero Don Quixote leaves on a journey full of adventures with his loyal squire, Sancho Panza, in search of his perfect woman. On the way he meets Kitri, the dazzling daughter of an innkeeper who he thinks might be his ideal love.
The Bolshoi’s panache and excellence are combined in Fadeyechev’s critically acclaimed staging of this exalting performance with Ludwig Minkus’ famous score. Featuring brand new sets and costumes to accompany this colorful and technically challenging production, Don Quixote is quintessential Bolshoi: abounding with life and not to be missed!