Don Quixote, the fusion
by Gwen Herat
At Royal Ballet, London
The length of the ballet stretches to four acts and eight scenes with
original choreography by Petipa in 1869 for the Bolshoi Theatre Ballet
in Moscow. The ballet was impressive and caught the imagination of the
audiences, made choreographers to immediately turn their attention to
Carlos Acosta as Basilio in Act III, as Don Quixote
In his first version it was more of a robust comedy followed by a
rough love affair between Quiteria (who was to become Kitri) and Basil
from the second act from the book by Cervantes.
Don Quixote and his servant, Sancho Panza only provide the sights to
hold together the individual episodes. They come face to face with a
troupe of travelling comedians followed by a fight against the
However, in 1871 he revived a new and exciting version for St.
Petersburg which contained new choreography. For all versions of the
ballet, choreographers maintained the first track of Minkus.
Carlos Acosta takes over the vibrant and spectacular ballet to the
main stage of the Royal Ballet to a packed audience who resisted the
on-coming winter blues in an arabesque of nearly three hours (with two
The Russian-Hispanic fusion is all about an elderly gentleman in
search of adventure and the girl of his dreams. His fantasies only lead
him to trouble and heartburns. He ends having an argument with a
The central romance of course, is of Basil and the beautiful Kitri.
Their love is the occasion for a charming sun-drenched spectacle with
many solos and ensembles for the company. In this act, the ballet rises
to a stunning effect with Hispanic costumes of daring colour and fast
Many a time the stage overflew with co-opted dancing and formation
groups. It afforded the freedom of movement for leaps and lively steps,
some were like lightning.
The dancers did not have to worry about perfection as each and all,
magnificently fell into place. Excellent lighting effects played tricks
as colours shifted to add mystery and expectation. Though Cervante's
colour filled story was of exuberance and frolic, it had its sad moments
too, especially when Don Quixote surrenders to his disappointment and
If this long ballet bored some, Minkus's music kept the others deeply
attracted. There was not a dull moment with the din shattering the roof.
Being sensual and passionate, the director was clever in supplying the
contrasts of moods between the young lovers and the ageing Don Quixote.
Though dancing came in the way, there was a certain degree of body
language among the principal dancers.
This is a story that is difficult to choreograph because of its
varying moods essentially meant for dialogue. However, Carlos Acosta
very subtly diverted audience attention away from this problem with
fascinating costumes and dance escalation. The vibrant costumes held the
audience attention even if the dancers failed or missed steps.
from Don Quixote with Basilio and Kitri
Don Quixote is a feast for the whole family, designed by Tim Hatley.
It is an exposition of wonderful colours and textures. Above all these
merits, it is Minkus who takes centre stage with wondrous music.
Blessed with operatic armoury to create thrilling drama that runs
through a gamut of human emotion from lacerating eruptions to poignant
ending. Minkus's music arranged and orchestrated by Martin Yates who
retained all the essence of Minkus's rapterous scores, he plays a vital
role for the sound track ably lifted by the orchestra of The Royal Opera
The meticulously fashioned soundscapes form the backdrop in a
mesmerising setting. This happens to be the first time I am seriously
listening to Minkus scores alone with high-flying elements of dancing,
there can never be a better introduction to rouse my curiosity on a new
With many visits to listen to the London Philharmonic Orchestra, BBC
Orchestra as well as one previous occasion to the Royal Opera House
besides today. I had never come across music of Minkus before or perhaps
missed on him. May be I will try to locate a CD on his music, mainly