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American Ballet Theatre: Don Quixote 2010
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American Ballet Theatre: Don Quixote 2010

- Onstage with the Dancers

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American Ballet Theatre

Don Quixote 2010
Metropolitan Opera House

Kevin McKenzie, Artistic Director
Rachel S. Moore, Executive Director
Alexei Ratmansky, Artist in Residence
Victor Barbee, Associate Artistic Director
Ballet Masters:
Susan Jones, Irina Kolpakova,
Clinton Luckett, Nancy Raffa
Ormsby Wilkins, Music Director
Kelly Ryan, Director of Press and Public Relations
Susan Morgan, Press Associate

Dr. Roberta E. Zlokower
June 2, 2010

(Read More ABT Reviews)

Conductor: Charles Barker

Don Quixote (1978): Choreography by Marius Petipa and Alexander Gorsky, Staged by Kevin McKenzie and Susan Jones, Music by Ludwig Minkus, Arranged by Jack Everly, Scenery and costumes by Santo Loquasto, Lighting by Natasha Katz.

Cast on May 28, 2010:

Performed by Victor Barbee as Don Quixote, Julio Bragado-Young as Sancho Panza, Paloma Herrera as Kitri, Angel Corella as Basilio, Craig Salstein as Gamache, Isaac Stappas as Lorenzo, Stella Abrera as Mercedes, Marcelo Gomes as Espada, Yuriko Kajiya and Misty Copeland as Flower Girls, Luciana Paris and Joseph Phillips as Gypsy Couple, Stella Abrera as Queen of the Dryads, Sarah Lane as Amour, and the Company as Waiter, Toreadors, Toreadors’ Companions, Sequidillas, Gypsies, Dream Maidens, Guests at the Wedding, Townspeople, Vendors, and Children.

Cast on June 2, 2010:

Performed by Victor Barbee as Don Quixote, Jeffrey Golladay as Sancho Panza, Gillian Murphy as Kitri, Ethan Stiefel as Basilio, Alexei Agoudine as Gamache, Roman Zhurbin as Lorenzo, Stella Abrera as Mercedes, Gennadi Saveliev as Espada, Sarah Lane and Simone Messmer as Flower Girls, Misty Copeland and Joseph Phillips as Gypsy Couple, Stella Abrera as Queen of the Dryads, Yuriko Kajiya as Amour, and the Company as Waiter, Toreadors, Toreadors’ Companions, Sequidillas, Gypsies, Dream Maidens, Guests at the Wedding, Townspeople, Vendors, and Children.

Don Quixote entered ABT repertoire in 1978 at the Kennedy Center in Baryshnikov’s production. Vladimir Vasilev staged a different production in 1991, and the present production was performed in 1995 at the Met Opera House. (ABT Notes).

The plot centers on the adventures of Don Quixote and his squire, Sancho Panza, as they follow the vision of Dulcinea. In Sevilla, Kitri, daughter of Lorenzo, is in love with Basilio, a poor barber. Lorenzo wishes to marry his daughter off to Gamache, a nobleman. Don Quixote sees in Kitri the vision of Dulcinea, and all three men pursue Kitri. In a Gypsy Camp, Don Quixote and Sancho Panza see Kitri and Basilio, and Don Quixote attacks a Windmill that appears to be a monster and falls asleep, dreaming of Kitri and Dulcinea. When he awakens, he thwarts Lorenzo and Gamache’s search for Kitri and Basilio.

When Lorenzo “forces” Kitri to commit to Gamache, Basilio pretends to die, and Kitri tries to wed the “corpse”. The awakened corpse is affianced to Kitri, Gamache disappears, and the wedding takes place onstage. Don Quixote continues to search for Dulcinea. (ABT Notes).

Although Don Quixote has been reviewed here multiple times, I was compelled to see two casts this season, as Paloma Herrera and Gillian Murphy, not to mention Angel Corella and Ethan Stiefel (when he partners Ms. Murphy), as well as Marcelo Gomes, are all dancing in their prime with magnetic charisma, surprising ornamentations, and technique that often astounds. On May 28, Ms. Herrera was Kitri to Mr. Corella’s Basilio. Basilio’s faux death scene, to persuade Kitri’s father to allow them to wed, included extra campy humor, as Basilio grabs a touch and a kiss, when nobody is watching. Ms. Herrera executed her 32 fouettés with added scissors kicks as she spun triple time to the rousing Minkus score. Mr. Corella’s solos were always prepped, with knowing glances to his fans and extra bows to the accolades. This duo worked the crowd, individually and in partnership, as two pros who dance better and better each season. In fact, Ms. Herrera is now dancing with extra sensuality, sincerity, and driven drama. Mr. Corella dashed about with thrilling abandon, achieving mid-air elevation and pyrotechnic propulsion.

On June 2, Gillian Murphy and Ethan Stiefel, two real partners on and off-stage, had nothing to do with faux kisses and theatrical flirtation. Their connection is authentic and it adds enormously to a ballet such as this, with electricity flying and their fans cheering. In her own 32 fouettés, Ms. Murphy held her Spanish fan, spun four-times to the beat, and generally wowed the Met. In his own faux death scene, Mr. Stiefel’s chest grabs and stolen kisses were more than an inside joke. There’s certainly something to be said about cultivating perpetual dance partnerships. As Espada, the womanizing matador, there was no comparison between Marcelo Gomes’ full-time prankster-ism, with delicious flourishes and postural audience asides, and Gennadi Saveliev’s decision to play it straight, just a matador onstage with a cape. Mr. Saveliev, unlike his peers onstage, is personality-challenged, unless he’s in one of his seething roles, like Tybalt or von Rothbart.

On both May 28 and June 2 Stella Abrera was Mercedes the street dancer, a significant role, and she too is often personality-challenged, dancing as if for film, rather than for the stage. Craig Salstein, as Gamache, the rich nobleman, whom Kitri’s father has targeted to marry Kitri, was, as always, outstanding in this vaudevillian role. Mr. Salstein has innate theatrical talent, comedic presence, and stunning dance technique. I wish he were occasionally cast, as is Herman Cornejo, finally, in some lead roles. Such casting could be quite exciting, and Misty Copeland and Yuriko Kajiya would make fine partners. As Gamache on June 2, Alexei Agoudine played the role with over-stated burlesque. Yuriko Kajiya, as Amour, a tour de force solo role, that requires ingénue charm, frisky flirtation with the audience, and rapid footwork, was astounding. She danced with tiny steps forward en pointe, evoking genuine joy and dreamy happiness. Sarah Lane danced the role on May 28 with the requisite skill, but with too forced a smile and attitude.

The Gypsy Couple brought out Joseph Phillips on both nights, partnering Luciana Paris and then Misty Copeland. Ms. Copeland had the edge, and she, like Mr. Salstein and Ms. Kajiya, are truly ripe for lead roles. Ms. Copeland is an interesting dancer to watch, and she possesses authentic stage presence and verve. Mr. Phillips is another artist to watch, rising fast in the roster of bravura characters. Ms. Abrera, as Queen of the Dryads both nights, was more in her element than she was as Mercedes. Roman Zhurbin and Isaac Stappas were Lorenzo, Kitri’s bungling father, and, like Mr. Salstein, Mr. Zhurbin maximized the hilarity with nuanced comedic gestures, while Mr. Stappas played it coarse. Victor Barbee, a master at lead dramatic roles, was a vulnerable, charismatic Don Quixote both nights, never upstaging, always engaging. His side-kick, Sancho Panza, was expertly portrayed by Julio Bragado-Young and Jeffrey Golladay, respectively, and both corps dancers were a delight.

This Petipa-Gorsky production, with Santo Loquasto’s costumes and scenery, is a timeless winner in the Ballet Theatre repertory. It’s a story that offers audiences of all ages and interests something memorable to take home, including a Gypsy Camp with dynamic dervish and a giant windmill, a Dream sequence, with pastel maidens and floral décor, toreadors and their dashing companions, and a happy wedding that brings down the curtain. It’s a “love conquers all” family romance, but, for balletomanes, there are 32 fouettés and occasional real kisses. Kudos to Charles Barker for keeping Ballet Theatre Orchestra so buoyant, and kudos to both casts, who tirelessly entertained.

Paloma Herrera
in ABT's "Don Quixote"
Courtesy of Gene Schiavone

Gillian Murphy and Ethan Stiefel
in ABT's "Don Quixote"
Courtesy of Rosalie O'Connor

Gillian Murphy and Ethan Stiefel
in ABT's "Don Quixote"
Courtesy of Rosalie O'Connor

For more information, contact Dr. Roberta E. Zlokower at