Ballet in 3 acts with a prologue
Libretto by Marius PETIPA
Based on an episode from the novel Don Quixote de la Mancha
by Miguel de CERVANTES
New choreographic version by Yury VASYUCHENKO, Honoured Artist of Russia
Musical Director and Conductor – Oksana LYNIV
The world premiere: The Bolshoi Theatre, Moscow, December 14, 1869
The first staging in The Odessa Opera and Ballet Theatre: February, 1933
This production premiered: November 17, 2012
Published in1605, The Ingenious Gentleman Don Quixote of La Mancha is considered one of the greatest works of fiction, “the best literary work ever written”. The novel has served as a thematic source for quite a number of works in cinema, painting, theatre, musical, etc.
The two chapters of the novel that the ballet is mostly based on were first adapted for the ballet in 1740 by Franz HILVERDING inVienna, Austria. The audience has seen lots of ballet versions of the knight-errant theme for 200 years, mounted by such great ballet masters as Louis MILON, Charles-Louis DIDELOT, August BOURNONVILLE, Serge LIFAR, George BALANCHINE.
Marius PETIPA’s interpretation is considered to be academic. Working over the libretto for the production he used the chapters of the novel dedicated to the wedding of Kittery and Camacho (the got names of Kitri and Basilio in the ballet libretto). The main characters of the novel Don Quichote and Sancha Panza became secondary characters in the ballet.
Marius PETIPA ordered the music score to the ballet composer Ludwig MINKUS who was professional in the ballet theatre and followed the ballet music requirements in his work.
The world premiere of Don Quixote took place in The Bolshoi Theatre in Moscow on December 14, 1869. The composer himself conducted the first performance. The production had great acclaim and was transferred to St. Petersburg later.
Marius PETIPA’s choreographic version grabbed attention of many ballet masters. However, Alexander GORSKY’s interpretation is considered the most successful. All later versions were based on GORSKY’s choreographic vision.
Odessa first saw the ballet Don Quixote in February, 1933 in the Paul VIRSKY and Nikolai BOLOTOV’s production. Three years late Michael MOISEEV put up his version of the ballet and it had a long stage life. In 1952 Vakhtang VRONSKY revived the production basing on the best academic dance traditions of PETIPA and GORSKY. Further productions comprised stylistic peculiarities and choreographic means by such ballet masters as Nikolay TREGUBOV (1966), Igor CHERNYSHOV (1970), Victor SMIRNOV-GOLOVANOV and Natalia RYZHENKO (1979).
The principal dancers starring in Don Quixote in different years were Valentina GRISHUKOVA, Vera VOLKOVA, Elvira KARAVAYEVA, Sabbira YAPPAROVA,Valery MIKHAYLOVSKY, Victor NOVITSKY.
During the years of the theatre reconstruction (1996 – 2007) the performance was not on stage. Today The Company is welcoming this choreographic masterpiece back on stage.
Don Quixote is one of the most popular ballets in the repertoire of almost all ballet companies in the world. This happened due to the bright dance, expressive melody and rhythmic diversity of its musical basis, the richness and extraordinary beauty of the choreographic forms and compositions, a number of spectacular comedic acting parts.
The plot of the novel by Miguel de Cervantes Saavedra has repeatedly become the reason for the development of scenario projects for ballet performances created by choreographers of European theaters to different music. For the first time a ballet with this name was presented in 1740 in Vienna by the talented Austrian choreographer Franz Hilferding. For 200 years, viewers have seen choreographers of various levels, including such outstanding ones as Jean Georges Noverre, Louis Milon, Charles Didlot, Augustus Bournonville, Serge Lifar, and George Balanchine, to read the story of the wandering knight. Most of these productions did not have a long stage life and have not survived.
Among all the ballet versions of Don Quixote, the creative achievement of the outstanding Russian choreographer of French origin Marius Petipa, who in 1869 at the Bolshoi Theater of Moscow presented the play Don Quixote, a ballet in 4 acts, 8 scenes with a prologue, gained popularity. Two years later, the master staged a new version at the Mariinsky Theater in St. Petersburg. The music for this ballet was written by Ludwig Minkus, the famous Austrian composer, violinist and conductor. In the early 1850s, Minkus came to Russia, where, in addition to various musical activities, he acted as an inspector of ballet music and created many ballet works as a composer. A professional connoisseur of the specifics of ballet theater and the requirements for ballet music, Minkus, commissioned by Marius Petipa, created a bright multi-genre score of the ballet Don Quixote, which became a melodic, tempo-rhythmic basis for a variety of dance numbers and compositions. The scenario project of the performance was very simple and naive, but the brightness and richness of thematic and rhythmic colors of music and choreography ensured the grandiose success of this ballet and its viability to this day.
This ballet became one of the first big performances by Marius Petipa on his way to create the aesthetic and artistic canon of classical dance, which was supposed to combine the Apollonian forms of academic dance, the liveliness of the characteristic, the expressiveness of pantomime and acting in a harmonious polyphonic composition. The artistic version of Marius Petipa attracted the creative attention of many directors, among whom the outstanding Russian choreographer Alexander Gorsky managed to propose the most successful versions – ballet productions at the beginning of the 20th century in Moscow and St. Petersburg. All subsequent productions were largely based on the choreography of M. Petipa, edited by A. Gorsky.
This ballet reproduces a stage, somewhat simplified version of the Russian understanding of the “Spanish spirit” of the late 19th – early 20th centuries. There is an atmosphere of a game-struggle, competition, embodied in the philosophy of Spanish bullfighting as a symbol of human life in the world – this is the combat between the wandering knight Don Quixote and the evil forces of the world, and cheerful female almost fights in the square, and the rivalry of bullfighters, and a funny conflict between Gamache and Kitri, and eternal love-struggle between a man and a woman. In addition, in the dance whirlpool of ballet lives the element of the areal carnival, in the whirlwind of which all events acquire vitality and joy of being.
All this was brilliantly embodied in choreographic forms. M. Petipa, creating this true dance festival, used all dance forms known then. First of all, it is a large classical pas (fr. Grand pas), which consists of several parts and is performed by soloists and the corps de ballet. An important part of it is the pas de de (fr. Pas de deux) – a duet-competition of soloists, consisting of an entre, that is, an exit (fr. Entrée), slow duet dance, adagio, solo male and female variations and a common code. This is the most common academic form of classical ballet, which is characterized by a certain dance logic, a sequence of contrasting elements, and their harmonious unity. There are many characteristic dances in ballet – stage dance that expresses a certain character or image of a character or reproduces the features of folk dance. The text of the ballet “Don Quixote” contains wonderful corps de ballet compositions – mass dances of both the classical pattern (in the scene “Dream”) and the brightly characteristic (segidilla or gypsy dance). The authors use the expressive possibilities of pantomime, they offer scenes that require acting from the performers. That is, this performance is interesting for its diversity both for spectators and performers.
In the Odessa Opera and Ballet Theater, the production of Don Quixote was repeatedly addressed in different periods, and each time the director’s and choreographic reading of the performance was determined by those ideas about the nature and purpose of ballet art, which then dominated.
The Soviet ballet theater of the 1930s-1950s was largely focused on the aesthetics and directorial principles of drama theater, ballet creativity developed in line with the ideas of the psychological realistic theater of K. Stanislavsky. The consequence of this was not only the desire to achieve a realistically reliable and logically grounded production, but also a disregard for the nature of ballet art as a dance one, since preference was given to rhythmic pantomime as a dramatic means. The performances of the ballet “Don Quixote” on the Odessa stage of those years received an accentuated realistic convincingness and emphasized the social-class nature of events and characters (1933 – Pavel Virsky, Nikolai Bolotov; 1936 – Mikhail Moiseev; 1952 – Vakhtang Vronsky), but even then they did not lose the best examples of the classical tradition of Petipa and Gorsky.
The 1960s-80s in the ballet theater were the heyday of creative individuals, when choreographers, artists, performers revealed their own peculiarities, giving the audience a variety of styles, choreographic means, dance and plastic compositions. The Odessa theater was lucky to gain fame as a creative laboratory, where choreographers expanded the boundaries of the expressiveness of the ballet language, reaching symphonic harmony and complexity in the formation of exquisite compositions.
The ballet “Don Quixote” was in demand during this period as well: everyone who worked as the chief choreographer proposed their editions, and the appearance of the ballet was determined by the level of professionalism and taste of the directors.
In 1966, the performance was released in the editorial office of Nikolai Tregubov, and the professionalism of the production was noted by both specialists and spectators, but did not see original solutions in it.
Igor Chernyshev demonstrated a refined academic taste and loyalty to the St. Petersburg classical traditions by staging Don Quixote in 1970, in which he removed scenes inserted by various choreographers during the history of this ballet’s life (primarily a gypsy camp). Under his leadership, the technical, artistic and ethical level of ballet creativity in the troupe has grown so much that this performance was a real dance celebration.
The next premiere took place in 1979, when Viktor Smirnov-Golovanov, together with Natalya Ryzhenko, added dramatic accents, dance compositions, numbers inherent in the Moscow tradition to his edition of Don Quixote and returned the withdrawn fragments. The ballet began to look somewhat archaic due to the pantomime scenes of the prologue, the gypsy camp, the battle with the mill, but it retained the unconditional pearls created in their time by M. Petipa and A. Gorsky.
teacher of philosophy, Odessa National University. I. I. Mechnikova
Rereading again and again the pages of the novels of chivalry, Don Quixote dreams of a life full of feats and glory, like the heroes of his favorite books. With his faithful squire Sancho Pansa, he sets off to distant lands in search of adventure.
Sunny Barcelona greets spectators with a vibrant Spanish folk holiday. Young bullfighters, smartly dressed peasants, Catalan cavaliers watch with inspiration the dance of the innkeeper Lorenzo’s daughter, the charming Kitri. But she does not pay attention to anyone, because her heart has long belonged to the poor barber Basil, who is also in love with her.
The sensual dance of Kitri and Basil is interrupted by Lorenzo, who does not like his daughter’s chosen one. The innkeeper prefers the wealthy nobleman Gamache. Lorenzo had already promised him the girl’s hand.
Meanwhile, a real dance extravaganza reigns on the stage: one after another, a swift bullfighter, a street dancer, a luxurious Mercedes, and, finally, Espada, the main bullfighter, captivate with their performance.
In the midst of the fun, Don Quixote and Sancho Panza appear in the square. Lorenzo, whom the knight takes for the owner of the castle, invites guests to his place. Meanwhile, young people are trying to play a trick on Sancho Panza, but Don Quixote rushes to his aid.
Seeing Kitri, the noble hidalgo takes her for the beautiful Dulcinea – the lady of his heart – and invites her to the minuet.
To be alone, lovers run away from home. Lorenzo, Gamache and Don Quixote set out to find them.
A gypsy tavern appears in front of the spectator to the characteristic Spanish rhythms. This is where Kitri and Basilio fled.
The mesmerizing clarinet solo precedes the appearance of the gypsy duo, which is replaced by the bright, hot Andalusian romance solos of Espado and Mercedes.
Lorenzo, Gamache, Don Quixote and Sancho Panza enter the tavern with a playful march. Lorenzo wants to announce the engagement of his daughter and Gamache, but Basile plays a suicide scene. Don Quixote persuades Lorenzo to bless Kitri and the “dying” Basilio for marriage. When he agrees, the guy “comes to life” with a smile.
Day is breaking. There is a gypsy camp in the clearing. The calmness of the sleepy morning is disturbed by the rapid dance of the gypsies. Don Quixote watches him with interest. The gypsies decide to play the knight. The noble hidalgo, not understanding the joke, disperses them with weapon in hand. Exhausted Don Quixote falls asleep.
In a dream, the Knight of the Sorrowful Image sees the kingdom of the dryads. One after another, these unearthly creatures dance in front of him. In his imagination, the image of his beloved Dulcinea, so similar to Kitri, looms. The soulful solo that bewitches the knight smoothly flows into the dance of forest nymphs.
Everything in the castle is ready for the wedding of Kitri and Basil. Don Quixote blesses the young for a happy family life. Guests perform Spanish folk dances. The climax of the ballet is the passionate grand pas of lovers.