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The Bolshoi Theatre of Russia: Don Quixote at the Met
-Onstage with the Dancers

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The Bolshoi Theatre of Russia
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Don Quixote
Ballet in Three Acts

Alexei Ratmansky, Ballet Artistic Director
Anatoly Iksanov, General Director
Alexander Vedernikov, Music Director and Chief Conductor

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Dr. Roberta E. Zlokower
July 18, 2005

Originally Published on ExploreDance.com


Don Quixote (1999): Music by Ludwig Minkus, Libretto by Marius Petipa after the novel of the same name by Miguel De Cervantes, Choreography by Alexei Fadeechev after Marius Petipa and Alexander Gorsky, Additional Choreography Kasyan Golesovsky, Rostislav Zakharov, and Anatoly Simachov, Costumes designed by Vasily Dyachkov, revived by Tatiana Artamonova and Elena Merkurova, Designed by Sergey Barkhin, Conductor: Pavel Klinichev, orchestral soloists: Dmitry Miller, cello, Irina Pashinskaya, harp, and Evgeny Gurev, cornet.

Performed by Alexey Loparevich as Don Quixote, Alexander Petukhov as Sancho Panza, Svetlana Zakharova as Kitri, Andrey Uvarov as Basil, Victor Alekhin as Gamache, Egor Simachev as Lorenzo, Irina Zibrova as Mercedes, and Timofey Lavrenyuk as Espada, Olga Stebletsova and Anna Rebetskaya as Kitri's friends, Maria Allah as a Street Dancer, Evgenia Volochkova as Wife of Lorenzo, Alexander Fadeechev as Duke, Kristina Karaseva as Duchess, Andrey Melanin as Tavern Owner, Anna Antonicheva as The Queen of the Dryads, Maria Zharkova, Yulia Grebenshchikova, and Nelli Kobakhidze as Three Dyads, Svetlana Gnedova, Daria Gurevich, Anastasia Kurkova, and Svetlana Pavlova as Four Dryads, Nina Kaptsova as Cupid, Kristina Karaseva, Anna Balukova, and Evgenia Rozovskaya as Spanish Variation, Anna Antropova as Gypsy Variation, Irina Zibrova and Vitaly Biktimirov as Bolero, Natalia Osipova as Grand Pas First Variation, and Nelli Kobakhidze as Second Variation.

The plot centers on the adventures of Don Quixote and his squire, Sancho Panza, as they set out to achieve greatness. In Barcelona, Kitri, daughter of Lorenzo, is in love with Basil, a poor barber. Lorenzo wishes to marry his daughter off to Gamache, a nobleman. Don Quixote sees in Kitri the vision of Dulcinea, but she runs off with all three men, and Don Quixote continues to pursue Kitri. In a tavern, Kitri and Basil are found, and Basil pretends to die. Don Quixote persuades Lorenzo to allow the marriage of Basil and Kitri.

The owner of a puppet theater in a gypsy camp invites Don Quixote to see the show. Don Quixote, confused, tries to rescue the puppets. Don Quixote attacks a Windmill that appears to be a magician and is dashed to the ground. Don Quixote falls asleep, dreaming of Kitri as Dulcinea, surrounded by Dyads and Fairies. At the Duke's castle the wedding is prepared. Don Quixote still mistakes Kitri for Dulcinea, and the wedding takes place onstage. (Program Notes).


Bolshoi Ballet's production of Don Quixote may not be as lavish and tight, nor as aerobically presented, as ABT's recent presentation, but it was classic, classy, and danced with significant style. Svetlana Zakharova and Andrey Uvarov, in lead roles, were lean, leggy, and in great form, considering the fact that it was Opening Night of this Bolshoi run at the Met Opera House, which had only been dark for one day, after ABT completed Giselle, and rehearsal time must have been brief. Their Pas de Deux was dashing and daring. Ms. Zakharova was able to extend time en pointe to breathless moments, and Mr. Uvarov lifted her with one arm, more than once, walking her effortlessly about the stage. Their timing was swift and connected. These seasoned dancers made quite an impression. In the final act, the audience was vocal with accolades.

Of particular note in tonight's cast were Nina Kaptsova as Cupid, sprightly and sensational, Irina Zibrova as a mesmerizing Mercedes, and Anna Antropova as a wild, wanton Gypsy. The female principals and soloists seemed stronger than some of the male leads, with Timofey Lavrenyuk a bit too cautious as Espada. Alexey Loparevich, as Don Quixote, seemed more elegant and sophisticated than most Don Q's, but Alexander Petukhov, as Sancho Panza, was a constant clownish character, bouncing on a trampoline or bouncing about the stage. Egor Simachev, as Lorenzo, was quite appropriate as the foolish but flexible father, and Victor Alekhin, as the rejected Gamache, was almost inviting, in his white boots and costume with flourishes and feathers.

The corps was often reminiscent of Russian folkloric dancers, with white ruffles, mantillas, low ballroom shoes, or Russian peasant attire. With much reliance on castanets, tambourines, and percussion, the accentuated Spanish motif required buoyant, boisterous choreography. At times the orchestra seemed thin, but, again, rehearsal time was brief, and it was actually quite entertaining to see an onstage dancer with real castanets, combined with exotic percussion from the pit. Sets seemed a bit frayed and well-traveled, but it was of no import, as lighting design allowed trees, grotto walls, castles, and ballrooms to glow with captivating charm. In fact, one screen, all black lace and black flowers, was exquisitely conceived.

This Don Quixote was a Russian spectacle with Spanish flair. With guitars flying, clicking castanets, rhythmic tambourines, ruffles and lace, boots and ballroom shoes, flowery fairies, toreador hats, and a cute Cupid dashing to and fro, Bolshoi Ballet deserves kudos for energy, ingenuity, and a very engaging performance. Alexander Ratmansky, Artistic Director, has brought with him three additional productions, Spartacus, The Bright Stream, and The Pharaoh's Daughter. Bolshoi Ballet performances extend at the Met Opera House through July 30, 2005.


 

For more information, contact Dr. Roberta E. Zlokower at zlokower@bestweb.net