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20,21, 22, 23, 24 September 2006
Ludwig Minkus
Don Quixote
Ballet in four acts and a prologue

Libretto by Marius Petipa, based on Miguel de Cervantes's novel

Coreography by Alexander Gorsky (1902), based on Marius Petipa
Conductor Pavel Bubelnikov
Scenes Designer Alexander Golovin and Konstantin Korovin
Costumes Designer Konstantin Korovin
Oriental dances Coreographer Nina Anisimova

St. Petersburg Mariinskij Theatre Kirov Ballet

Teatro Massimo Orchestra

Mariinskij Theatre's General Partner: Vneshtorgbank
Tour Sponsor: SeverStal




Cast

St. Petersburg Mariinskij Theatre Kirov Ballet



Timetable

Wednesday 20 September 8.30 pm PREMIERE
Thursday 21 September 6.30 pm B
Friday 22 September 6.30 pm C
Saturday 23 September 4 pm E
Saturday 23September 9.30 pm F
Sunday 24 September 5.30 pm D




Pictures
(Click on any picture to enlarge)

Pictures from the ballet Don Chisciotte
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Pictures Franco Lannino ©Studio Camera


Synopsis

Prologue
(A Room in Don Quixote’s House)
Having read some tales of chivalry, Don Quixote decides to set out in search of adventures, defend virtue and punish those who violate the code of honour. It occurs to him to make his servant Sancho Panza his armour-bearer.

 Act I
(Scene 1)
In front of Lorenzo’s inn in Barcelona, a holiday crowd has gathered. Also there are Kitri, the flirtatious daughter of the innkeeper, and her lover Basilio, the barber, who has come to tease her; Basilio is over-attentive to Kitri’s friends. Lorenzo catches his daughter kissing Basilio and forbids them ever to meet again; he won’t have any penniless suitors. In vain Kitri tells her father how much she loves Basilio, but Lorenzo is implacable and turns the barber out of the house. Gamache, a rich and pompous nobleman, walks in, resplendent in his brocaded clothes. The crowd jeers at him. He has come to ask for the hand of the beautiful Kitri. Lorenzo would be delighted to have so highborn a gentleman for a son-in-law, but to Kitri the idea of marrying him is detestable. The innkeeper is shocked at his daughter’s impertinent manner towards Gamache. A street dancer enters, cheered heartily by the crowd. The girl is eagerly awaiting the arrival of Espada, the famous toreador. Espada appears, accompanied by other toreadors. They dance, flourishing their cloaks, enacting scenes from a bullfight. At the appearance of an extraordinary-looking horseman, the people are struck with astonishment. Sancho Panza blows a horn to announce the arrival of the knight-errant of la Mancha. Lorenzo welcomes the traveller courteously and invites him to partake of some refreshment. The girls seize the opportunity to have a bit of fun by playing tricks on the fat armour-bearer. They start a game of blind-man’s-buff. After that, the poor, harried Sancho becomes sport for the men, who toss him in the air. Sancho screams for help. Don Quixote comes to his rescue, armed with a huge toasting-fork and a plate for a shield. The knight sees Kitri and is struck by her beauty. Is it not she who has haunted his dreams as the beautiful Dulcinea? In rapture, Don Quixote bends down on one knee and asks her to dance a minuet with him. To annoy Basilio, Kitri graciously accepts the invitation, flirtatiously imitating the manners of a fine lady.
While no one is looking, Sancho steals a fried fish from the kitchen and is about to slip away, but the scullions give chase and catch the thief.
Amidst the general confusion, Kitri and Basilio slip away unobserved.

 Act II
(Scene 2)
Fleeing from Lorenzo and Gamache, the two lovers, Kitri and Basilio, wander into a gypsy camp. The gypsies dance for their guests. A girl informs them of the approach of a queer-looking horseman – it is Don Quixote. Basilio and Kitri greet him like old friends.
The gypsies invite Don Quixote to attend a play they are about to perform. He takes what is happening on stage to be reality, and rushes, sword in hand, to rescue the unhappy heroine; the improvised theatre is destroyed. The frightened actors and spectators scatter in all directions.The turning sails of a windmill then catch Don Quixote’s eye. They are the arms of giants! Don Quixote attacks the windmill. His clothes get caught on a sail and he is first swung up into the air, then hurled to the ground. Kitri and Basilio attend to his injuries. They spend the rest of the night resting by the gypsies’ caravan.
(Scene 3)
Don Quixote is tormented by a nightmare. In his sleep, he sees a huge spider crawl out of a dark, dense forest. The knight boldly attacks the monster and overpowers it. At the same moment, the forest is transformed into the beautiful Kingdom of the Dryads. Among them is Kitri, who has assumed the form of Dulcinea, the queen of his heart.
Cupid presents Don Quixote to the Queen of the Dryads. The nymphs are grateful to him for rescuing them from the power of the monster, and dance for their deliverer.
(Scene 4)
Morning breaks and Kitri and Basilio wake up only just in time, for Lorenzo and Gamache are close upon them. The lovers flee. Don Quixote, their protector, sends Lorenzo and Gamache on a false trail, but Sancho Panza corrects his master’s “mistake”. The chase goes on.

Act III

(Scene 5)
People are gathering for a fiesta at an inn. Kitri and Basilio, having given Lorenzo and Gamache the slip, have also come here to take part in the merrymaking. The toreador and Mercedes the dancer enter, hailed heartily by the crowd. The innkeeper warns Kitri of her father’s approach; Kitri tries to escape, but her father overtakes her and drags her to Gamache to give them his parental blessing at their betrothal. Gamache kneels before Kitri.
Basilio, seeing this, stabs himself and falls to the ground. Kitri rushes to him. She guesses at once that he is pretending, but slyly begs Don Quixote to go to Lorenzo and persuade him to grant Basilio’s dying wish – to give their love his blessing. Basilio is sure to die. Why not ease his last moments?

 Act IV
(Scene 6)
Lorenzo assisted by the scullions, the maidservants and Kitri’s friends the final touches feast. Don Quixote is the guest of honour. The happy lovers dance for him. Wishing the newly-weds every happiness, the knight-errant departs in search new adventures.




Notes

That which connects El ingenioso hidalgo Don Quijote de la Mancha and the world of dance is an enduring tradition: The first version of a choreography inspired by this famous piece of literature is from 1740 and is the work of Franz Hilverding from Vienna. There followed, in the years immediately following this, a number of other choreographies. But although this was neither the first ballet nor the last to be inspired by a work written by Miguel de Cervantes it was in fact the version conceived in the libretto by Marius Petipa in 1869 which set the trend which placed the visionary horseman as an important character in the ballet world.

At the height of his career Petipa was given the honour, by the directors of the Imperial theatres, to create a new choreography for the Bolshoi ballet and, taking an episode from Don Quixote, he based the entire production on the love between Kitri  (“Quiteria” in the book) and the barber Basilio, opposed by the father of the woman that wants to marry off her daughter to the wealthy Gamache. With some deception the two lovers succed in obtaining the approval of her father. For this ballet Petipa conceives a Spain populated by happy and joyous people, and livened up the choreography, interweaving various comic episodes with dances of a spanish character and flavour.This ballet version of Don Quixote, keeping its distance from the complex nature of Crevante’s protagonist, here portrayed almost like a second-lead part, becomes a story of simple people searching for day-to-day happiness.

The music of Ludwig Minkus, at the time official composer at the Bolshoi ballet from 1864 (answering solely to necessities of the choreography, and thereby of merit difficult to judge from a critical point of view in the context of artistic autonomy), is of a certain merit, given that the public over the years has responded very well to this work of art. Following the first version, presented at Moscow in1869, the choreography of Petipa was often re-done, often with significant changes, the first of which was carried out by Petipa himself, who, on the occasion of the renewal of the ballet at St.Petersburg in 1871 – where the audience was more cultured than in Moscow – wished to render the libretto more elegant, doing away with the comic scenes and to dilute some of the more folkloristic aspects of the spanish dances. After having become one of the most successful of the russian ballet productions, Don Quixote arrived in London in 1924, where Victor Dandrè and Anna Pavlova’s company came across a great problem: in accordance with tradition it was normal to look for a real-life horse to be ridden by Don Quixote, but since the horse was too overweight to “interpret” its role properly, it was dressed in a way to appear less robust, and this obviously worked, seeing that it led the British authorities to conduct an inspection as to whether this animal was malnourished

Marcella Musacchia