It has been just over a decade since Boston Ballet brought Don Quixote to life and for those who have been away from the ballet for a while, this is the performance that should bring them back. Don Quixote has an energetic and upbeat score, over the top sets, beautiful costumes and some very complex dances from solos to perfectly synchronized full cast numbers. Boston Ballet’s Don Quixote will be at the Opera House through March 26th at the Boston Opera House.
Don Quixote is based on the Spanish novel by Miguel de Cervantes but as a ballet the Spanish flavor also comes from Marius Petipa’s fond memories of Spain as a childhood haven and he put his love for the Spanish national dances throughout the story ballet. The music of Don Quixote is written by Ludwig Minkus a violinist turned composer who first began composing for ballet in the 1860s. Nureyev took the original Marius Petipa Don Quixote performed by Moscow’s Bolshoi Ballet and added levity and humor. As story ballets go, Don Quixote is upbeat and fast paced throughout. Aside from the beautiful Wood Nymphs in Act II Scene II when the pace slows as you watch the Queen of the Dryads, Amour (a cupid-like character), and the Dryad Trio take you on a dreamy jaunt through the woods against a monolithic filigree-like tree backdrop.
I have said it before, but it is such a treat to have Jeffrey Cirio back at Boston Ballet. His energy and steadfastness he offers his partners due to his experience and skill is something that lifts up the entire performance. As a dancer, choreographer and company member Cirio is a rising tide that lifts all boats. John Lam and Jeffrey Cirio both have such impressive elan with jumps that send them high above the stage seemingly defying gravity. On opening night, we were gifted with another side of Lam, his incredibly ability to bring a comedic character to life to the nth degree. John Lam’s Gamache had the entire audience belly laughing. Isaac Akiba’s Sancho Panza was another comedic and acrobatic character, a role that Akiba is so skilled at. Daniel Rubin’s Don Quixote was larger than life with a delicate balance of crazy old man and endearing character that was just right. Ji Young Chae’s debut as Kitri felt like a familiar friend. She danced Kitri so naturally and the chemistry between Chae’s Kitri and Cirio’s Basilio felt genuine. Don Quixote is full of very flirty dances and playful moments between the young men and women. Boston Ballet’s performance of Don Quixote helps us New Englanders wake up a little, shake off our winter hibernation mode, and have a little taste of spring fever.
I didn’t expect as many laughs, but quite a few of the characters in Don Quixote are larger than life and the dancers portraying them did not hold back. You will see the most comedic duel as well as the daintiest faux suicide that has ever graced the Opera House stage.
What I look forward to in story ballets are the more stylized, folk and character dances. Don Quixote has plenty of all cast or corps dances in unison which are a pleasure to watch. The costumes for the Spanish style ensemble pieces and the gypsy folk dances are intricate and beautiful and transport you to another place and time. The character and folk dances for those styles do as well. The character dances are high energy and especially in the finale are quite intricate, aerobic and unique.
The sets are impressive and fill the stage from edge to edge and top to bottom. Be sure to keep your eye on Don Quixote and the large windmill. Don Quixote’s Vision in Act II Scene II has a beautiful, moody scrim scene with a silhouette effect that is dreamy and beautiful and leads into a gorgeous piece with Viktorina Kapitonova as the elegant and strong Queen of the Dryads and Chisako Oga as the more playful and equally beautiful Amour. Kapitonova and Chisako gave each of their characters distinct personalities and performed flawlessly.
One of my audience litmus tests for the ballet is what I call the throat clearing scale. In many of the longer story ballets the audience will begin to get restless at various parts of the ballet and a wave of little coughs and throat clearing begins to happen. Don Quixote was the most silence I have sat amongst throughout the entire ballet. The audience was completely enraptured from beginning to end.
Boston Ballet and Mikko Nissenen’s presentation of Rudolf Nureyev’s Don Quixote runs for 6 more performances.
Wednesday, March 22nd 7:30 p.m.
Thursday, March 23rd 7:30 p.m.
Friday, March 24th 7:30 p.m.
Saturday, March 25th at 1:30 and 7:30
Sunday, March 26th at 1:30
Tickets start at $39 and can be purchased here or call (617) 695-6955 for tickets.