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American Ballet Theatre: Don Quixote 2014
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American Ballet Theatre: Don Quixote 2014

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American Ballet Theatre

Don Quixote 2014
Ballet in Three Acts

Metropolitan Opera House

Kevin McKenzie, Artistic Director
Rachel S. Moore, Chief Executive Officer
Alexei Ratmansky, Artist in Residence
Victor Barbee, Associate Artistic Director
Ballet Masters: Susan Jones, Irina Kolpakova,
Clinton Luckett, Nancy Raffa, Keith Roberts
Ormsby Wilkins, Music Director
Kelly Ryan, Director of Press and Public Relations
James Timm, Director of Marketing and Brand Management
Susan Morgan Taylor, Manager of Press and Online Media

Dr. Roberta E. Zlokower
May 19, 2014

(Read More ABT Reviews)

Conductor both performances: David LaMarche

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 15, 2014:

Performed by Roman Zhurbin as Don Quixote, Arron Scott as Sancho Panza, Maria Kotchetkova as Kitri, Herman Cornejo as Basilio, Craig Salstein as Gamache, Grant DeLong as Lorenzo, Stella Abrera as Mercedes, Sascha Radetsky as Espada, Misty Copeland and Luciana Paris as Flower Girls, Isadora Loyola and Gabe Stone Shayer 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.

Cast on May 19, 2014:

Performed by Roman Zhurbin as Don Quixote, Luis Ribagorda as Sancho Panza, Xiomara Reyes as Kitri, Ivan Vasiliev as Basilio, Alexei Agoudine as Gamache, Grant DeLong as Lorenzo, Misty Copeland as Mercedes, Jared Matthews as Espada, Devon Teuscher and Melanie Hamrick as Flower Girls, Isadora Loyola and Zhiyao Zhang as Gypsy Couple, Misty Copeland 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).

What makes Don Quixote an especially entertaining ballet is the theatricality of its cast, from the wily barber, Basilio, who’s pursuing his object of desire, Kitri, who hides from her fussy, arthritic father, Lorenzo, who’d rather hand his daughter over to the nobleman, Gamache. Then there’s also the confused, geriatric Don Q, and his vaudevillian sidekick, Sancho Panza, plus a visiting, showoff matador Espada, a street dancer, Mercedes, a wild Gypsy couple, and the cast of Don Q’s dream, like Amour and Queen of the Dryads. Over the course of three acts, there are the requisite 32 fouettés (Kitri with a fan at her wedding), a leaping Don Q onto a windmill, some punches thrown, and lots of burlesquean gesture. This is a family fun ballet, but also a festive matinee or evening for anyone, especially balletomanes who look to see how their favorite Principals work the crowd, with antics and charisma.

On May 15, Ballet Theatre fans were able to meet Maria Kotchetkova (from San Francisco Ballet, who has been reviewed on this column, when dancing in a Youth America Grand Prix 2013 Gala) as Kitri. Partnered with the ever-charismatic Herman Cornejo as Basilio, who is just a bit taller than Ms. Kotchetkova, they brought the house down. Her wild leaps into his arms and dizzying fouettés, in the final wedding scene, his antics, as he plays dead, to gain Kitri’s hand in marriage, and their combined ebullience and energy were all astounding. The pairing of Xiomara Reyes and Ivan Vasiliev seemed off on May 19, with Mr. Vasiliev in surprising breathlessness, after his backward leaps and rapid spins, and with Ms. Reyes’ lack of credible connection to her partner. Each is a bravura Principal, although Mr. Vasiliev would only dance this one full-length, seasonal performance. Ms. Reyes was much more engaging last season, when partnered by Mr. Cornejo, and Mr. Vasiliev was not with his renowned partner, Natalia Osipova, who has left Ballet Theatre. Yet, each, in solo dance and characterization, was dynamic, dramatic, and endearing. And, it should be noted that Mr. Vasiliev seems made of iron, as he lifted Ms. Reyes over his head and walked leisurely about the stage..

Roman Zhurbin, a master of operatic theatrics, was Don Quixote on both nights, with not a good deal of dancing, but an abundance of poignancy, pathos, and camp. His gestures and motion tell the story with detail and clarity. Another character dancer of operatic proportion is Craig Salstein, who, on the 15th far exceeded Alexei Agoudine on the 19th, in cut-up capers. Every second that Mr. Salstein is onstage, he’s moving, totally within the role. He trips, he drinks, he adjusts his nobleman’s attire, fixes his wig, and chases poor Kitri about the stage. His mock jealousy is pure vaudeville. As Espada and Mercedes, the most riveting couple was the husband-wife team, Sascha Radetsky and Stella Abrera on the 15th, with Mr. Radetsky leaving the Company soon for new projects. It was great to see them dance on the stage together and to see Mr. Radetsky’s vivacious matador persona. Ms. Abrera is a stunning dancer (they are both Soloists), even more now than ever, and she made the most of this story’s star presence. On the 19th, Jared Matthews and Misty Copeland, as Espada and Mercedes, were more propulsive and muscular, but there was an elegance to these roles on the 15th.

As the Gypsy Couple, Isadora Loyola was partnered by Gabe Stone Shayer on the 15th and by Zhiyao Zhang on the 19th. Both Mr. Shayer and Mr. Zhang astounded the audience with high elevation and lightning spins, in the Gypsy Camp scene, although Mr. Zhang seemed to have the edge on mesmerizing affect in motion. Grant DeLong succeeded as the greedy, silly Lorenzo both nights, a role with little dancing but much buffoonery. As Sancho Panza, Arron Scott on the 15th and Luis Ribagorda on the 19th were both adept at the antics in shepherding Don Quixote here and there. Of the two sets of Flower Girls, Misty Copeland and Luciana Paris on the 15th had the edge over Devon Teuscher and Melanie Hamrick on the 19th , although all were delightful in the bright, springy roles. As Queen of the Dryads, the second roles for Stella Abrera on the 15th and Misty Copeland on the 19th, both shone radiantly. This is a surreal, dreamlike role, and both Soloists have riveting stage presence. Yet, my favorite role of both nights, with thanks, was Yuriko Kajiya’s Amour, in the Dream scenes, with her incandescent warmth and spritely footwork. Ms. Kajiya is also leaving the Company soon, along with her fiancé, Jared Matthews, both Soloists, to join the Houston Ballet. I’ll miss her delicacy and ingénue presence.

In the Corps ensembles, Joseph Gorak in the Gypsy Camp, Zhong-Jing Fang of the Dream Maidens, Calvin Royal of the Toreadors, and Skylar Brandt, a Guest at the Wedding all caught my eye. David LaMarche, Conductor on the 19th, brought the Ludwig Minkus score to a glorious, resounding pulse, especially in the Wedding finale. On the 15th, Charles Barker kept the Gypsy dances frenetic. Santo Loquasto’s sets and costumes bring the viewer right into old Seville, even to the detailed fans. The Matador’s bright cape, the pastels of The Dream, the moving windmill, the tavern tables and drinks are all fashioned and sized to the stage. Natasha Katz’ lighting is a bit dim at times, but the Gypsy Camp has a fiery flame. Kudos to all.

Hermand Cornejo
in "Don Quixote"
Courtesy of Gene Schiavone

Xiomara Reyes
in "Don Quixote"
Courtesy of Rosalie O'Connor

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