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Ludwig MINKUS (1826 - 1917)
Don Quichotte Ballet - complete - (1869) arr. John Lanchberry (1981)
Aurelie Dupont, Kitri
Manuel Legris, Basile
Jean-Guillaume Bart, Espada
Marie-Agnes Gillot, La Danseuse de rue
Delphine Moussin, La Reine des Dryades
Clairemarie Osta, Cupidon
Melanie Hurel and Veronique Doisneau, Les deux amies
Jean-Marie Didiere, Don Quichotte
Fabien Roques, Sancho
Laurent Queval, Gamache
Alexis Saramite, Lorenzo
Karl Paquette, Le gitan
Fanny Fiat, La demoiselle d’honneur
Corps de Ballet, l’Opera Nationale de Paris
L’Orchestre de l’Opéra Nationale de Paris/Ermanno Florio.
Director: Nicolas Auboyneau, Choreographer: Brigitte Lefevre, Ballet Master: Patrice Bart and Clothilde Vayer, Sets: Alexandre Beliaev, Costumes: Elena Rivkina and Lighting: Philippe Albaric.
recorded at l’Opera Nationale de Paris, Paris, April, 2002, DVD
TDK DV-BLDQ [122 minutes]
TDK are a little bit naughty here, as the name ‘Rudolf Nureyev’ is emblazoned on the box, and one could be lead into the idea that Nureyev is dancing in this production. Now that would have been something! However it is only Nureyev’s choreography which is being used with the ballet itself danced by contemporary dancers from the Paris company. It is not that they give poor performances, far from it, but the production is being marketed and sold under somewhat misleading pretences.

Ludwig Minkus, in his day, was a very well respected composer of ballet music. He composed Don Quichotte for the Bolshoi Ballet under direction from Marius Petipa. The story was based upon scenes from Cervantes’ story, and concentrated upon episodes from the latter half of the story, focusing upon the love story between Kitri and the barber Basile. Minkus was not the only composer to be affected by the story, others being Telemann, Strauss, Falla and Ravel.

Nureyev took the story and choreographed it generally in line with Petipa’s original choreography, converting the ballet from a full five act work to that of Prologue and three acts. Nureyev had danced the ballet in his native Russia early on in his career and with great success. He wished to introduce it to the West when he defected to Paris in 1961. He created a new choreography for a production in Vienna at the State Opera in 1966, where he adhered basically to the Petipa version. He did however cut the number of acts from five to three.

John Lanchberry arranged Minkus’s score for this version, which focuses on the love between Kitri and the barber Basile. In this story, the part of the Don is reduced to that of a somewhat minor figure who appears in a few grotesque-comical scenes.

The standard of the production is very good with no real problems. The standard of the dancing is uniformly high with superb lighting and relatively little foot noise. The orchestra is conducted quite capably by Ermanno Florio, who does a quite competent job, albeit restricted by the need to accompany the dancers. What I wouldn’t give for a performance of Don Quixote conducted by Anatole Fistoulari!

An excellent DVD and one which I am sure you will enjoy.

John Phillips

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