, September 2011
MINKUS, L.: Don Quichot (Don Quixote) (Dutch National Ballet, 2010) (NTSC) 101561
MINKUS, L.: Don Quichot (Don Quixote) (Dutch National Ballet, 2010) (Blu-ray, Full-HD) 101562
Since I last reviewed Don Quichot (sic) in March 2011, a ballet that has been the butt of much ridicule by Alastair Macaulay in the New York Times, two new versions have come my way that do much to refute his criticism. The DVD under review comes from a live performance by the Dutch National Ballet as staged (with additional choreography) by Alexei Ratmansky, while those of us who live far from a metropolitan center have been able to see a live transmission into local cinemas of the Bolshoi’s version as staged (ditto) by Alexei Fadeyechev, who follows the original Moscow scenario (as related by Cyril Beaumont), which differs considerably from other versions I have seen. As there is little documentation, unlike other ballets of the late 19th century, we do not really know how much is Petipa or Gorsky or other later hands, but the various versions I have seen differ little in the essentials.
One novelty in the Dutch version is the use of a pair of comedians to play Don Quixote and Sancho, perhaps the only native principals in the cast, who are well known to local audiences. Unfortunately, Peter de Jong’s Don Quixote is unable to keep his mouth closed, which is disturbing during the mime scenes of which he has many, particularly as he otherwise looks the part. Karel Rooij is not as stubby a Sancho as one might find ideal but his years of experience with his partner give a special connivance to their scenes, especially as the Prologue is perhaps one of the longest I’ve seen. Anna Tsygankova sparkles as Kitri and enjoys solid support from Matthew Golding’s low-key Basilio, while the Russian (in the widest context) contingent seems at home. Sasha Mukhamedov (daughter of Irek?), Maia Makhateli (sister of David), and Nadia Yanowsky (sister of Zenaida and Yuri) make the most of their opportunities, the last-named alongside Maiko Tsutsumi as Kitri’s friends. The familiar pas de deux is now a grand pas, with solos for the two friends and interpolations from the corps providing a spectacular finish. The scene in the Gypsy camp is abbreviated and we do not even see Don Quixote tilting at the windmills, bizarre considering the technical facilities of the Muziektheater in Amsterdam. Music has been reshuffled on occasion, but that’s fair game for this type of work for which there is no definitive text. I would, however, urge those who like this ballet to try and see the Bolshoi version when it appears for the teamwork and virtuosity of Natalia Osipova and Ivan Vasiliev in the leading roles, but for the moment the Dutch version has as many virtues as any of its competitors.