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Subject: "Don Quixote, Royal Ballet, 23 Oct 01 Review" Archived thread - Read only
 
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Lynette H

24-10-01, 11:25 AM (GMT)
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"Don Quixote, Royal Ballet, 23 Oct 01 Review"
 
   Don Quixote, Royal Ballet, Covent Garden, 23 October 2001

Few opening performances were going to be as closely scrutinised as this one, the first performance of the Royal’s new season under their new Artistic Director, Ross Stretton. It was a new production as well – Nureyev’s version of Don Quixote, rather than the version acquired by Dowell, and widely touted as a much superior production. So did this tell us much about Stretton’s intentions or his view of individual dancers (only the principal casting had been advertised in advance) ? Well, maybe not very much. Everyone seems keen for a triumph or a disaster, but this was neither. It was a pleasant enough experience, but didn’t seem to have gelled, and despite some fine individual performances, it never quite caught fire. It had a hectic and rather strained busyness about it which may settle down into a more genuine sense of fun over the length of the run.

All productions of Don Q are based around a fairly slender story – the lovers Kitri and Basilio successfully thwarting her father and the prospect of an arranged marriage to a rich fop, interrupted by the wanderings of the elderly Don Quixote and his servant Sancho Panza. You might say that Fille mal Gardee has no more substance to the storyline, but whereas the Ashton work is a warm and tender picture of real families, Don Q is more a grand vehicle for classical dancing and great set pieces.

This performance seemed to waver between grandeur and realism, and can’t quite decide which way to go: and this seems to dissipate its focus. The Royal has a strong naturalistic narrative tradition, which can clearly be seen in Christopher Saunders’ shabby but idealistic Don, whose good-heartedness makes him more than just a figure of fun. Other character roles are not so subtly defined, though, and both Sancho Panza and Gamache come across as cartoon characters, who, despite rather coarse buffoonery, are never quite as funny as they ought to be. In the first act, all the corps are as busy as if they are in the marketplace in Verona – bickering, flirting, and carrying on interminably with all sorts of bits of business, all craving our attention. There are some glutinously cute urchins, who ought to be dropped in the harbour forthwith.

While Kitri and Basilio were dancing there was far too much distracting activity at the back of the stage. All this frantic flirting, fighting and snapping of fans gives the ensemble a rather hectic and forced air, rather than a lighthearted one, and the constant swirl of activity seemed to mar the clean lines of the dancing. The production is a very handsome one in terms of sets and costumes: but it might have been conceived for a wider stage, as some of the Act 1 dancing looked rather cramped and constrained by the scenery.

Rojo and Kobborg were making their debuts in these roles. Rojo’s first entrance looked a little tentative, but she soon settled down. Her character remained a little more subdued than one might have expected, but her dancing, and that of Kobborg was as grand as the occasion demanded. The production seemed at last to really get going with Kobborg’s first solo – elegant and unforced, and communicating a real sense of joyousness. But when the leads are offstage, the temperature drops rather. Marianella Nunez was a poised and haughty street dancer with a powerful presence, though why she was interested in the bland Espada of Pennefather was hard to fathom.

Act 2 improved, particularly in the vision scene, where at last the dancers had space to deliver pure, gracious dance. Don Quixote’s vision of Kitri as his ideal Dulcinea, accompanied by Amour and the Queen of the Dryads was beautifully and harmoniously delivered. Yanowsky was particularly distinguished as a cool and regal Queen of the Dryads and got a really warm reception. The gypsy scene which preceded this was colourful, with Martin Harvey pushing very hard in his solo as the Gypsy Boy, but looking a little tense.

The final act sees all things happily resolved and the marriage of the lovers at lasts blessed by Kitri’s father after Basilio’s pretended suicide. This has been played for hilarious effect in other versions of Don Q, but here came across as mildly funny rather than side splitting. There are more group dances in elaborate costume with much Spanish stamping, after the highly decorated pattern of the first act. (It was at this point that I had a sudden vision of Joe Cipolla and Chenca Williams of BRB, all flaring nostrils and tossing heads, sending every Spanish dance cliché up a treat in the Spanish section of Nutcracker Sweeties,. Unkind, I know, but the Royal’s production wasn’t quite grandly enough danced overall to rise above its kitsch qualities).

All credit though to Rojo and Kobborg for a fine performance of their last pas de deux which provided some real treats in terms of his jumps and her fouttees. This brought the evening into sharp focus again and provided an appropriately upbeat ending.

The production is set for a long run, with several different casts, and has the chance to settle down and get over any first night jitters. It wasn’t sold out so tickets should be possible to come by. Although this first performance may have been a bit flat, it could still blossom, and we need to see a lot more productions from the Stretton regime yet before forming any conclusions.


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  Subject     Author     Message Date     ID  
  RE: Don Quixote, Royal Ballet, 23 Oct 01 Review Toeshoe 25-10-01 1
     RE: Don Quixote, Royal Ballet, 23 Oct 01 Review JuliaR 25-10-01 2
  RE: Don Quixote, Royal Ballet, 23 Oct 01 Review Juliet Ashdown 25-10-01 3
  RE: Don Quixote, Royal Ballet, 23 Oct 01 Review Juliet Ashdown 25-10-01 4
     RE: Don Quixote, Royal Ballet, 23 Oct 01 Review Robert 25-10-01 5

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Toeshoe

25-10-01, 09:09 AM (GMT)
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1. "RE: Don Quixote, Royal Ballet, 23 Oct 01 Review"
In response to message #0
 
   i found the corps very in tune, but why not indeed as it seemed to have many soloists and first soloists,among them.
Kobborg was not up to his usual standard and had trouble with the lifts, Rojo certainly not as spunky as one would have expected her to be, she would have been more at ease with Acosta.Galeazzi and Tapper were not together as the friends, Galeazzi seemed lost in her dress.
Pennefather, possibly the worst possible Espada I have seen, and I HAVE SEEN MANY, to be fair to give a young corps dancer such a part is sheer lunacy.
Yanowsky cool and elegant as Queen of the Dryads.
Harvey worked hard as the Gypsy boy.
I DO NOT FEEL I need to seethe ballet again, although I have a few more tickets,
my opinion for what its worth, the dancers tried hard, but as a ballet fell flat on its face.


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JuliaR

25-10-01, 10:29 AM (GMT)
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2. "RE: Don Quixote, Royal Ballet, 23 Oct 01 Review"
In response to message #1
 
   I believe that Kobborg was suffering from FOOD POISONING


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Juliet Ashdown

25-10-01, 01:34 PM (GMT)
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3. "RE: Don Quixote, Royal Ballet, 23 Oct 01 Review"
In response to message #0
 
   Poor Kobborg, didn't Darcey once have food poisoning in Swan Lake.

I enjoyed the individual perfomances, (act two was probably the most memorable) and am looking forward to going again.

I feel in a few weeks time they will have 'settled in', and the production will have more atmosphere. I do think not seeing something again after the first night of a premiere, toeshoe, you might not see the full picture.


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Juliet Ashdown

25-10-01, 01:34 PM (GMT)
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4. "RE: Don Quixote, Royal Ballet, 23 Oct 01 Review"
In response to message #0
 
   Poor Kobborg, didn't Darcey once have food poisoning in Swan Lake.

I enjoyed the individual perfomances, (act two was probably the most memorable) and am looking forward to going again.

I feel in a few weeks time they will have 'settled in', and the production will have more atmosphere. I do think not seeing something again after the first night of a premiere, toeshoe, you might not see the full picture.


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Robert

25-10-01, 02:42 PM (GMT)
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5. "RE: Don Quixote, Royal Ballet, 23 Oct 01 Review"
In response to message #4
 
   Didn't Darcy's food poisoning turn out to be morning sickness?


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