While we're awaiting normal service, I thought the following edited transcript of Newsnight Review on Don Q might be interesting:
Ross Stretton's first production as Royal Ballet director does not impress the panel.
This is such a depressing statement of intent. This awful piece is so dreary. It's full of the most idiotic miming. It's just such an old-fashioned awful thing, with the most awful score. I can't believe that they couldn't find anything more exciting to start with. The orchestra just plainly couldn't be bothered, and I don't blame them. The designs could have been executed 50 years ago. This was one of the most depressing, boring evenings I could have imagined spending. It gives ballet a bad name. It is very difficult to see the cultural merit of this.
I'm pretty much with Philip. Some of the dancing here is brilliant, but there's something sad about seeing all this technical training, this virtuosity, with no art really to spring it into life. In the end, it's very hard to take this kind of thing seriously, to see it as high culture. There is something pantomime about it, and then in comes the pantomime horse.
One thing that ballet can't do is narrative. Why should it? It is a ludicrous way to tell stories, by jumping around. Don Quixote is a narrative of lots of short stories joined together. That said, though I think it was a failure, at least this ballet was a little less objectionable than Don Quixote, which is my least favourite classic book. At least this was just sweetness, a nonsense.
Was there any emotion in it for you?
None whatsoever, nor any intellectual content. That's the trouble. Here's this glittering audience, paying a great deal for their seats, and the intellectual content is less than a first-class football match. Much the same skills are used, and this is thought to be high culture.
I think it's the piece, not the genre. Sleeping Beauty, Swan Lake, Nutcracker - those are grand, serious, intelligent pieces.
Why would you want to have Don Quixote in your repertoire?
This is a famously demanding part for the dancers. It is a showpiece for dancers. No-one's going to listen to the music or look at the backdrop or discuss whether she meant it when she said… You know, it's nonsense.
Don Quixote is in rep. at the Royal Opera