Don Quixote, Ballet by L. Minkus
The original presentation of Don Quixote at the Bolshoi Theatre in Moscow in 1869 was an extraordinary collaboration between Ludwig Minkus, official composer of ballet music to St Petersburg’s Imperial Theatres, and Marius Petipa who served as the Imperial Theatres’ grand master of ballet.
The Vienna State Opera has a special relationship with the ballet. It was none other than the inimitable Rudolph Nureyev who brought the ballet to the Austrian capital in 1966 with his own restaging of Petipa’s original conception and it is Nureyev’s exuberant version that audiences will enjoy in this production.
Nureyev’s development as an artist is inextricably linked to his interpretation of the ballet. It was his performance as Basilio which secured his passage to the West and Nureyev regularly presented Don Quixote with companies across the world. Nureyev seized the opportunity to express to the full his talent for comedy and his choreography perfectly exploits the humour which stems from Don Quixote’s inability to distinguish between illusion and reality.
The narrative focuses on the efforts of Kitri to escape her betrothal to Gamache so that she might marry her true love, Basilio. Quixote, bound up with his own fantasies, unwittingly intercedes on their behalf. At the end of the tale, Gamache stands down, after Quixote challenges him to a duel, but not before his interventions have seen him dream of giant spiders, mistake windmills for giants, and confuse Kitri with his beloved Dulcinea.
Nureyev’s invention, by fusing together the worlds of commedia dell’arte and classical ballet to create a visual feast for its audience, has made Don Quixote one of the most popular ballets in the modern repertoire.