Ludwig Minkus "Don Quixote" (Ballet in three acts)
Premiere of this production: 14 Dec 2017
The performance has 2 intermissions
Running time: 2 hours 30 minutes
Music by Ludwig Minkus
Libretto and production by Johan Kobborg based on a ballet by Marius Petipa
Set design by Jérôme Kaplan
Lighting design by Vincent Millet
This show is the first ballet production in a series of anniversary events dedicated to the Year of Marius Petipa in Russia. Those who attended the premiere gave well-deserved praise to this dynamic and vibrant performance, drenched in blazing light of the Spanish sun, which shines upon a whirlwind of profound passion. A roller-coaster of a plot and a cast of spitfire characters are brought to life by expressive choreography and a gorgeous set design, courtesy of the world-class genius Jérôme Kaplan. The show also offers a refreshing approach to the classics, which it owes to its producer, Johan Kobborg, an ardent lover of Russian ballet, who is well-known as both a choreographer and a brilliant danseur to audiences of both the Bolshoi and Mariinsky Theatre. After this premiere, the great master's reputation as a paragon of male dance performances will very likely get augmented by worldwide fame as an attentive interpreter of the cultural heritage left by Marius Ivanovich Petipa, known as 'the Russian Frenchman'. This has been Johan Kobborg's first time staging a ballet in St. Petersburg, and first collaboration with the Leonid Yacobson Ballet Theatre.
Johan Kobborg: 'When Andrian Fadeev, art director of the Leonid Yacobson Ballet Theatre, offered me to stage Don Quixote, I did not have a shadow of a doubt that our work together would be interesting and fruitful. There were many factors at play at the same time. I have known Andrian for many years, and I respect him as a brilliant dancer. And now I can put trust in his professionalism in his new capacity as a ballet company manager. As luck would have it, both of us had enough free time to work on this project. For more than 10 years now, I have been just as enthusiastic about working as a choreographer as about performing. I love not only making new shows, but also looking for fresh interpretations of famous ballets. To keep the ballet art alive, you have to practice looking at ballet classics from a new angle, and to be closer to the public. I used to work at a classical ballet troupe, so I respect the academic style and have no wish to undermine it. But the world is changing, and this demands new approaches to traditional productions'.
Johan Kobborg is widely known to ballet lovers as an international celebrity. Alumnus of the Royal Danish Ballet School, he used to dance as a principal at the Danish Royal Ballet and at the London Royal Ballet, Covent Garden. He also appeared as a guest star in productions at the La Scala Theatre in Milan, the Mariinsky and Bolshoi Theatres, and many other renowned theatres worldwide.
More than a decade ago, Johan Kobborg embarked on a new path as a choreographer: in October 2005, the Royal Ballet in London opened a new season with his edition of the La Sylphide by August Bournonville; shortly thereafter, Kobborg went on to produce a number of shows for other ballet theatres. In the 2007/08 season, his version of La Sylphide entered the Bolshoi Theatre's repertoire as well.
This was Johan Kobborg's first time staging a ballet in St. Petersburg, and first collaboration with the Leonid Yacobson Ballet Theatre. The choreographer has already gone though all rehearsals.
The scenery for the premiere has been provided by Jérôme Kaplan, a renowned French set designer with Russian roots; the Russian public may already be familiar with his contribution to the Illusions Perdues ballet at the Bolshoi Theatre (music by Leonid Desyatnikov), which he worked on in tandem with the choreographer Aleksey Ratmansky. The show's production crew also included Vincent Millet, a lighting designer who previously collaborated with Kaplan at the Bolshoi Theatre.
The premiere of the Don Quixote ballet was scheduled to celebrate the 200th birth anniversary of Marius Petipa and took place at the Tovstonogov Bolshoi Drama Theatre on December 14, 2017, and at the Alexandrinsky Theatre on December 19, 2017.
The performance was accompanied by the Saint-Petersburg State Academic Symphony Orchestra, conducted by Maestro Anatoly Rybalko.
Don Quixote, having read his fill of romances about knights and chivalry, decides to set off on his travels in order to achieve great feats, which will bring glory to his name. As his sword-bearer, he chooses the loyal Sancho Panza, a man of sober outlook who is not prone to dreams.
In Barcelona there is festive animation in the air. Kitri, daughter of the innkeeper, is flirting with Basilio, the barber, who is in love with her. Finding them together Lorenzo, Kitri’s father, chases Basilio away: the barber is no fit match for his daughter. Lorenzo intends Kitri to marry Gamache, a rich nobleman. Kitri refuses outright to submit to her father’s will.
At the height of the merry-making, Don Quixote appears in the square, accompanied by his sword bearer, Sancho Panza. Catching sight of the innkeeper, Don Quixote mistakes him for the owner of a knight’s castle and greets him with respect. Lorenzo responds in like terms and invites Don Quixote into the inn. Sancho Panza is left in the square. But when some young people start to mock Sancho, Don Quixote immediately hurries to his sword-bearer’s rescue.
Seeing Kitri, Don Quixote thinks she is the beautiful Dulcinea whom he has seen in his dreams and chosen as ‘the lady of his heart’. But Kitri disappears. She has run off with Basilio. Lorenzo, Gamache and Don Quixote set out to look for her.
Kitri and Basilio are hiding in a tavern. Here they are found by Lorenzo, Gamache and Don Quixote. Lorenzo wishes to make an immediate announcement of the betrothal of Kitri and Gamache. But Basilio, by agreement with Kitri, pretends to take his life. Kitri sobs over the body of her sweetheart. Don Quixote overcоme by noble indignation accuses Lorenzo of hardheartedness and, threatening him with his sword forces him to agree to his daughter’s marriage with the barber Basilio jumps to his feet. There is no point in him pretending to be dead am longer.
In the glade by the windmills is a sprawling gipsy encampment. Here too is a puppet theatre. Don Quixote and Sancho soon appear on the scene. The owner of the puppet theatre invites Don Quixote to watch a show. Don Quixote follows the performance with rapt attention and, forgetting it is theatre, rushes on to the stage, sword in hand, to defend those who need his protection. He breaks down the stage, sends the puppets flying and, catching sight of the windmills, mistakes them for evil magicians whom he has to get the better of. Grabbing a mill sail, he is first lifted into the air and then falls to the ground.
The wounded Don Quixote and Sancho Panza find themselves in a forest. To Don Quixote, the forest seems to be full of monsters and giants. Sancho Panza settles Don Quixote down to sleep, while he runs off for help. In his dreams, Don Quixote sees Dulcinea, ‘the lady of his heart’, surrounded by Dryads and fairies Sancho Panza comes back with the Duke and Duchess who have been hunting in the forest. He begs them to help the dreaming Don Quixote. The Duke and Duchess invite the wandering knight to visit them m their castle.
The Duke’s castle. All is ready for the reception of Don Quixote.
Having heard from Sancho Panza the happy story of Kitri and Basilio’s love, the Duke and Duchess have kindly agreed to allow them to hold their wedding in the castle. Don Quixote and Sancho Panza are invited to occupy the seats of honor. A solemn procession files past. Catching sight of Kitri, Don Quixote again mistakes her for ‘the lady of his reveries’. But the Duke and Sancho Panza manage to persuade him that she is the very same innkeeper’s daughter whom he helped to unite with Basilio, her sweetheart.
The festivities continue. All thank the valiant knight and his faithful sword-bearer.
Libretto by Marius Petipa
after the novel of the same name
by Miguel de Cervantes
1 Teatralnaya ploschad (1 Theatre Square), Moscow, Russia
Bol'shaya Dmitrovka Street, 4/2, Moscow, Russia