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 Post subject: Don Quixote
PostPosted: Tue Jul 20, 2004 1:09 am 
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<img src="http://www.victorhochhauser.co.uk/Graphics/don_quixote400.jpg" alt="" />

Here is a reminder of the casting for Don Quixote which opened at Covent Garden last night.

Mon 19 July Evening Don Quixote Maria Alexandrova / Sergei Filin
Tue 20 July Evening Don Quixote Svetlana Zakharova / Andrei Uvarov
Wed 21 July Matinee Don Quixote Ekaterina Shipulina / Dmitri Belogolovtsev
Wed 21 July Evening Don Quixote Galina Stepanenko / Yuri Klevtsov

<small>[ 27 July 2004, 06:02 AM: Message edited by: Stuart Sweeney ]</small>


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 Post subject: Re: Don Quixote
PostPosted: Tue Jul 20, 2004 2:18 am 
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Don Quixote, 19 July 2004
Bolshoi Ballet
Royal Opera House

This was the first time I’ve seen the Bolshoi, if you discount the rather odd truncated versions of their repertoire I saw at the Albert Hall some years ago, and their Don Quixote showed me a company that lived up to all my expectations. Don Quixote is one of their signature ballets and the production and the dancing was big, strident, confident and vigorous, and incredibly well performed by the whole company.

Spectacular dancing is the point of Don Quixote (it certainly isn’t the plot, is it?) and this production had bucket loads of it. The company dance a version of Gorsky’s 1900 production, staged by Alexei Fadeyechev in 1999. This production does attempt to make more sense (which obviously isn’t saying much) of the rather thin story of the ballet and foregrounds Don Quixote more than in other productions I’ve seen. The tavern scene comes before the gypsy camp and doesn’t feature Kitri and Basil, for example. It also looks extremely handsome with the sets and bright costumes adding to the light heartedness of the ballet.

But for me, the evening was perhaps a touch long, though that could just have been because I was standing. While the character dances were brilliantly danced and exhilarating to watch, the many, many deep backbends were beginning to pall a little by the end. No disrespect intended to these dancers though who were truly fantastic, particularly Yulianna Malkhasyants in the Gypsy Dance.

I was very much looking forward to seeing Maria Alexandrova, newly promoted to Principal and about whom I’d read a lot, and she is indeed a real talent. I thought she had a lovely stage presence and charm and brought a great sense of fun and cheekiness to Kitri. She’s a very strong dancer with a huge jump and high extensions. But she did sacrifice technique for effect a bit too often for me, with some untidy attitudes, bent legs in jetes and arabesques, and messy arms on occasion. She was also rather tense in the neck and upper body (nerves perhaps?). It’s great to see dancers really go for it even if it knocks them off balance sometimes, but occasionally the effort she was making jarred somewhat.

No such problems for Sergei Filin who was a charismatic Basil and showed us polished stylish dancing. Ekaterina Shipulina as Queen of the Dryads was gorgeous with a lovely creamy, controlled quality to her dancing and beautiful line. Nina Kaptsova as Cupid was wonderfully light and sweet without being cutesy, Ksenia Tsareva showed off her beautiful jump in the 1st variation in Act III, and Kitri’s friends, Irina Semirechenskaya and Anastasia Yatsenko, were very impressive.

The depth of talent and strength in the company was what impressed me most about the performance. There were no weak links with the soloists, and the Corps were strong, well schooled and looked to be having a great time. Which, of course, is what Don Quixote is all about.


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 Post subject: Re: Don Quixote
PostPosted: Tue Jul 20, 2004 4:36 am 
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Thanks for getting our reporting of the visit off to a flying start Rosie. These light 19th C ballets, which got the art form a bad name with the intelligentsia of the period, are not my favourite theatre experience, but like you I'm sure I would have enjoyed the choreography and the performances.

<small>[ 21 July 2004, 02:55 AM: Message edited by: Stuart Sweeney ]</small>


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 Post subject: Re: Don Quixote
PostPosted: Tue Jul 20, 2004 6:01 am 
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I am sure you would have enjoyed it Stuart. Don Q is certainly not my favourite among the Classics but the lively Bolshoi production is simply good fun.
Alexandrova and Filin were very charming as the lead couple and the superb performances in all the many other solo roles were too many to count last night.

The Russian ability to pull off character dances is second to none. Especially the Bolero and the Gypsy Dance in the second act drew several bravos from the audience and that from the usually rather tame ROH crowd that tends to express enthusiasm in a more reserved way.

If last night is indication for things to come I guess we are in for a really dreamy three weeks in ballet heaven.


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 Post subject: Re: Don Quixote
PostPosted: Tue Jul 20, 2004 9:40 am 
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Don Quixote
The Bolshoi Ballet
London

19th July 2004


“Don Quixote” is one of those ballets that the Russians really excel at. Why is it that living in such a cold country makes it easier in some way to transform themselves into hot-blooded Spaniards? Just another of ballet’s mysteries I suppose.

Alexei Fadeyechev’s production of Don Q. is sunnier than most and has the highest proportion of pseudo-Spanish dance items than any of it’s rivals but apart from these character interpolations, most of the traditional choreography remains intact, unlike the Nureyev production I saw in Paris last month. Here there are one or two surprises (the order of act two for example) but no unpleasant shocks.

The Bolshoi has produced some of the finest Kitri’s and Basilio’s in the business since the ballets inception and indeed the company’s sadly absent prima ballerina, Nina Ananiashvili, probably gives the definitive interpretation of the role of Kitri at the present time. For the first night of the London season Maria Alexandrova donned the flounced skirt of the innkeeper’s daughter and launched herself onto the stage in the manner of a dancer whose greatest joy is to perform. Her dancing wasn’t quite flawless as I imagine she is still inexperienced at coping with the nerves that accompany a major performance, but her technique is superb in that she is dynamic without any showiness and her respect for the choreography is such that no stylistically dubious movements mar the bravura passages. Wonderful as her Kitri was, it was as Dulcinea in Don Quixote’s dream that I found myself admiring her most, for Alexandra is at heart the very purist of classicists.

Her Basilio was the ever elegant, ever youthful Sergei Filin who clearly gets a lot of enjoyment out of this role, what he lacks in panache he makes up with likeableness. Perhaps he is a little short to be paired with Alexandrova but his partnering of this tall girl was faultless, the jumps and catches drawing gasps of amazement from the audience.

In the other roles I was once again awestruck by magnificent Malkhasyants as the most soulful of gypsies, whose eyes alone tell a story of passion and sorrow. Also outstanding was fleet-footed Nina Kaptsova as a mischievous Cupid in the dream sequence. Then there is the Bolshoi corps, outstanding in everything they do, the very backbone of this glorious company.

One sour note to report I’m afraid: The Covent Garden lighting failed at the beginning of the second scene of the first act. These incidents are actually more frequent now than before the days of the ROH’s expensive makeover. Though highly annoying, it didn’t spoil the performance but there really is no excuse for these occurrences.


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 Post subject: Re: Don Quixote
PostPosted: Tue Jul 20, 2004 11:45 pm 
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Quote:
Don Quixote Royal Opera House, London

By CLEMENT CRISP
Financial Times
Jul 21, 2004

The whole purpose of Don Quixote is, of course, bravura - bravura in step, in style, in getting away with the unlikely. It is a prodigious lie, told by a master liar, and I love every idiot moment, especially when the Bolshoi's artists unleash their boldest skills, their easy authority.
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 Post subject: Re: Don Quixote
PostPosted: Wed Jul 21, 2004 7:07 am 
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Quote:
Sunny smiles and sorry seducers

By ISMENE BROWN
The Daily Telegraph
July 21, 2004

The Bolshoi Ballet doesn't hide its eastern origins. Wily as an oriental bazaar entrepreneur, it offers its foreign audiences carefully selected baubles to win them over, before moving on to the more serious and risky stuff stashed behind.
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 Post subject: Re: Don Quixote
PostPosted: Wed Jul 21, 2004 12:02 pm 
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Quote:
Don Quixote

By JUDITH MACKRELL
The Guardian
July 20, 2004

Compared with some of the more enervated performances in recent Bolshoi history, everyone danced with a bright sense of self belief in their steps and their characters.
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 Post subject: Re: Don Quixote
PostPosted: Wed Jul 21, 2004 12:04 pm 
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Quote:
Don Quixote, Royal Opera House, Covent Garden

By Zoë Anderson
The Independent
20 July, 2004

At its best, the Bolshoi's Don Quixote has gusto, a confidence in the Russo-Spanish-stage gypsy world of this ballet. The heroine leaps airily backwards into her partner's arms; the lead Gypsy roars in, like a silent movie Cleopatra looking for the asp.
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 Post subject: Re: Don Quixote
PostPosted: Thu Jul 22, 2004 8:16 am 
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Yesterday afternoon I caught the Ekaterina Shipulina/Dmitri Belogolovtsev cast in Don Quixote. A few years ago I saw the very young Shipulina for the first time in the Bluebird pas de deux at a performance in Barcelona. She looked very promising and four years on I am not surprised that she has graduated to principal roles.

Shipulina is a very attractive girl who dances generally in a very attractive manner, but she is not the most musical of dancers and her six o'clock extensions were rather jarring both as Kitri and as Queen of the Dryads on Monday night. Her partner, Dmitri Belogolovtsev, isn't the most convincing looking Spaniard; tall and blond, he looks rather like a German tourist gone native, but is a reliable partner and in the final pas de deux was impressive in his well controlled barrel turns.

Maria Allash danced an exquisitely regal Queen of the Dryads earning well-deserved cheers from the audience and Irina Semirechenskaya was perfect as the street dancer (a future Kitri in the making?). Scene-stealer Yulia Malkhasyants moved roles to Mercedes for this performance and was every bit as outstanding as when she danced the Gypsy on Monday night. To be honest though, I have to say I found more to admire among the supporting dancers than the principals on this occasion.


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 Post subject: Re: Don Quixote
PostPosted: Fri Jul 23, 2004 8:52 am 
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What is wrong with the idea of a 'German tourist' gone native in Spain? It makes for a thoroughly modern twist in the story. After all why should Kitri not benefit from all the EU has to offer ;) .

On a more serious note thanks for posting these impressions. Shipulina seems like a very interesting young dancer and I am looking forward to seeing what she is going to make of Swan Lake.


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 Post subject: Re: Don Quixote
PostPosted: Sun Jul 25, 2004 10:10 pm 
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Quote:
Back and with a spring in their step

By JANN PARRY
The Observer
July 25, 2004

The painted backcloths are old-fashioned, the costumes freshly made, the lighting so bright that the audience applauded with delight at being able to see the dancers properly (though a first-night glitch left the stage in darkness soon after the start; ah, the joys of state-of-the-art technology).
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 Post subject: Re: Don Quixote
PostPosted: Mon Jul 26, 2004 3:10 am 
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Don Quixote, loosely based Cervantes’ love story of Quiteria (Kitri) and Basilio has had some revisions since Marius Petipa was directed as Clement Crisp writes to make a ballet “in the Spanish manner” for the Moscow Bolshoi Theatre in 1869. It is said Alexander Gorsky then stretched the dramatic effects and naturalistic portrayals and of course there is the music of Ludwig Minkus. With these notable stalwarts of classical ballet Don Quixote offers a romantic Spain with complex technical demands that couples exuberant energy with rambunctious characterisations. Alexei Fadeyechev is noted for the revival of this work seen in Covent Garden 20 July 2004, which does its best to continue the efforts of its predecessors. I would imagine that most classical ballet neophytes dream of performing Don Quixote but what I witnessed on Tuesday 20 July 2004 had a profound message that Petipa may not have intended.

There are many readings of Cervantes’ book but Dulcinea is the single most profound notion for me. This love for a woman alive or imaginary is not simply the telling of a search for a woman that a man has fallen in love with. Having inspiration and strength of will to succeed in everything one did in the name of love is a wonderful romantic act and perhaps Cervantes loathed this idea enough to mock it. It is the journey though with its incessant searching that seems most important in Cervantes book and in the ballet Don Quixote. Dulcinea seems more a notion of perseverance, the strength to believe in one’s convictions, one’s promise to self, one’s dreams and aspirations, the search for a love, a muse or salvation. All these things can be read into this apparition that fuels Don Quixote’s journeys. While Cervantes takes a poke at courtly love and the epic hero, Petipa’s work focuses on young love and the needs and escapades of an ageing knight to provide a vehicle for a three act ballet.

Dulcinea has only a cameo appearance in this presentation of all that ballet can offer. It is the opportunity for a company to exhibit its phenomenal technical prowess, improvisation, and character development. There is also quite a bit of play, goofing, rouge swirling raffled skirts, toreadors with knives and capes, flamenco-like spirals in the back and arms with castanets and fans, even a drop made like a Spanish shawl, windmills and puppet show that segues into pastel tutus and a cupid. The gypsy camp had the only hint of tragedy with a solo danced by Yulianna Malkhasyants. This solo had that sense of Audalucian “blues”; full of anguish, defiance, and passion. Scene 3 Act 2 Don Quixote’s delirium conjures giants, monsters and finally the apparition of Dulcinea surrounded by dryads and fairies. Well here the epic hero of ballet is enthralled by a gorgeous landscape of shimmering tutus that was so effervescent the audience gasped. The Don is so enthralled he wanders around this landscape encircled by the corps de ballet. Reaching this way then another for Dulcinea amongst the groupings and soloist Don Quixote never catches her and awakes somewhat dazed from what he has been through both imaginary and lived. This angelic rendering is the life lesson the ballet has to offer. Don Quixote does not get Dulcinea or does he?

One could imagine Dulcinea as metaphorically representing the goal when striving for perfection. Svetlana Zakharova the practically flawless Principal dancer who portrayed Kitri and Dulcinea had a bit of a “Dulcinea” to catch for herself in Tuesday night’s performance. Early in Act 1 she fell; fell flat on her face dead centre in the middle of one of her many solos. Anyone would say it happens and you simply get up and keep going. Any dancer pursuing the epitome of perfection in whatever aesthetic they choose will stumble and fall on that road to grace. Consider yourself at a loss if you haven’t done it at least once in your career. The “performance” then becomes about how you continue. Picking yourself up, shaken but not deadened, making the turns more precise, calculating leaps and jumps, each movement containing that extra bit of soul that distinguishes character, embraces beauty, embodies grace. Zakharova spent the rest of the evening erasing that fall, which was literally a fall from grace, but by Act 3 with her legs and arms charged with seemingly invincible energy and tenacity I was convinced of the under laying notion of Dulcinea. Zakharova’s foute turns were really quite a marvel and the precision through out both technically and as a character were fantastic. I detected a bit of youth wilfulness that was more Zakharova than Kitri but you can allow this indulgence in an artist with a brilliant career behind and in front of her. It is part of what made the audience forget the fall and give a well-deserved and loud applause for the performance of the Bolshoi’s Don Quixote. I applauded Zakharova’s personification of my notion of “Dulcinea”.

<small>[ 27 July 2004, 06:07 AM: Message edited by: THEA NERISSA BARNES ]</small>

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 Post subject: Re: Don Quixote
PostPosted: Thu Jul 29, 2004 2:06 am 
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One we missed earlier:

Don Quixote - the advance from Moscow
An exuberant Don Quixote proves that the Bolshoi is back, bigger and better than before, says David Dougill for The Sunday Times.


Bolshoi means big in Russian, and there was the real buzz of a big night around the Royal Opera House on Monday, for the start of the Bolshoi Ballet’s first full-scale London season since 1999. During the five-year gap, we have grown used to the rival Kirov Ballet, from St Petersburg, commanding the London summer ballet fest, while the Muscovites struggled with financial, political and artistic tribulations at home, and licked their wounds from an ill-advised, scaled-down and patchy visit to Drury Lane in 2001.

click for more

<small>[ 29 July 2004, 04:25 AM: Message edited by: Stuart Sweeney ]</small>


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 Post subject: Re: Don Quixote
PostPosted: Thu Jul 29, 2004 2:23 am 
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Location: London, England; Tallinn, Estonia
One we missed earlier:

Don Quixote
By Debra Craine for The Times


HOW can you go wrong with Don Quixote? With its warm colours, snapping castanets, panto antics and high-kicking classical display, this 19th-century warhorse is designed to lift even the dullest of spirits. Which isn’t a bad way to launch the Bolshoi Ballet’s summer season at the Royal Opera House and wipe out the memory of the company’s tacky previous visit to London three years ago.

This time, with new director Alexei Ratmansky at the helm, it was smiles all around as the dancers from Moscow opened their Covent Garden run with a jovial three-act evening of pretty period designs, genial performances and very big dancing. This may be an old-fashioned formulaic ballet but it’s a perfect showcase for the Bolshoi’s trademark exhibitionist style.

click for more

<small>[ 29 July 2004, 04:25 AM: Message edited by: Stuart Sweeney ]</small>


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