Libretto by Marius Petipa
Choreography by Marius Petipa and Alexander Gorsky
The performance also features choreography by Nina Anisimova, Igor Belsky, Robert Gerbek, Kasyan Goleizovsky, and Fyodor Lopukhov
Overall choreographic revision and staging: Mikhail Messerer
Assistants: Evgeny Popov, Anna Razenko
Stage Designer: Vyacheslav Okunev
Costume Technology: Alla Marusina
Lighting Designer: Alexander Kibitkin
Musical Director of the production: Pavel Bubelnikov
Répétiteurs: Zhanna Ayupova, Yulia Makhalina, Evgeny Popov, Evgenia Kostyleva, Svetlana Efremova, Tatiana Legat, Elvira Khabibullina, Anna Razenko, Natalia Tsyplakova
The Mikhailovsky Theatre would like to express its gratitude to Mr Toshihiko Takahashi for his support in creating the production
Sets and costumes produced at the Vozrozhdenie Theatrical Design Studios
ballet in three acts and a prologue
music by Ludwig Minkus
Premiere of the first production at the Mikhailovsky Theatre: 21 November 1996
Premiere of the revised version: 11 April 2012
Don Quixote is one of the most life-affirming, colorful and festive ballets. It’s interesting that despite its name, this brilliant piece is not a stage version of the famous novel by Miguel de Cervantes, but an original choreographic work by Marius Petipa vaguely based on Don Quixote.
In 1869, the Moscow Bolshoi Theatre gave a première of the comic play staged by Marius Petipa to Minkus’s music, telling a story of the failed wedding of a young beauty and a rich nobleman, because of the true love of the heroine to a poor guy. In 1871, Petipa created a new version of the ballet for the première at the Bolshoi Kamenny Theatre in St. Petersburg. In 1900, a new production of Don Quixote was staged by Alexander Gorsky. Gorsky kept the scenario plan and, partly, Petipa’s choreography. Gorsky organized the crowd scenes in a new way to avoid “any symmetry”. Borrowing from the principles of theatrical aesthetics of the Moscow Art Theatre, Gorsky did much for the “revival” of academic ballet.
In 1902, the Gorsky’s production was shown at the Mariinsky Theatre. The stars of the imperial stage, as Mathilde Kschessinska (Kitri), Nicholas Legat (Basilio), Enrico Cecchetti (Sancho Panza) contributed to the success of this remarkable performance. The production became the classical one.
Don Quixote, having read chivalric romances, decides to set off on his travels in order to perform the feats that will bring glory to his name. As his sword-bearer, he chooses Sancho Panza, a man of sober outlook who is not prone to dreams.
In Barcelona, there is festive animation in the air. Kitri, the daughter of the innkeeper, is flirting with Basilio, the barber, who is in love with her. Lorenzo, Kitri’s father, chases Basilio away: the barber is no fit match for his daughter. Lorenzo wants Kitri to marry Gamache, a rich nobleman. Kitri refuses outright to submit to her father’s will.
At the height of the merry-making, Don Quixote appears in the square, accompanied by his sword-bearer, Sancho Panza. Catching sight of the innkeeper, Don Quixote mistakes him for the owner of a knight’s castle and greets him with respect. Lorenzo responds in like terms and invites Don Quixote into the inn. Sancho Panza stays in the square. When some young people start to mock Sancho, Don Quixote immediately hurries to his sword-bearer’s rescue.
Seeing Kitri, Don Quixote takes her for the beautiful Dulcinea, whom he has seen in his dreams and chosen as “the lady of his heart.” But Kitri disappears. She has run off with Basilio. Lorenzo, Gamache, and Don Quixote set out to look for her.
Kitri and Basilio are hiding in a tavern. Here they are found by Lorenzo, Gamache, and Don Quixote. Lorenzo wishes to make an immediate announcement of the betrothal of Kitri and Gamache. But Basilio, by agreement with Kitri, commits fake suicide. Kitri sobs over the “body” of her sweetheart. Don Quixote, overcome by noble indignation, accuses Lorenzo of hardheartedness and, threatening him with his spear forces the innkeeper to agree to his daughter’s marriage with the deceased barber. Basilio jumps to his feet — there is no point in him pretending to be dead any longer.
By the windmills, there is a gipsy encampment and a travelling puppet theatre. Don Quixote and Sancho soon appear on the scene. The owner of the puppet theatre invites Don Quixote to watch a show. Don Quixote follows the performance with rapt attention and, forgetting it is only theatre, rushes on to the stage, sword in hand, to defend those, who need his protection. He breaks down the stage, sends the puppets flying and, catching sight of the windmill, mistakes it for an evil magician, whom he has to get the better of. Grabbing a mill sail, he is first lifted into the air and then falls to the ground.
The wounded Don Quixote and Sancho Panza find themselves in a forest. To Don Quixote, the forest seems to be full of monsters and giants. Sancho Panza settles Don Quixote down to sleep, while he runs off to get some water to drink. In his sleep, Don Quixote dreams of Dulcinea, “the lady of his heart,” surrounded by the Cupid and Dryads. Sancho Panza returns followed by the Duke and the Duchess, who have been hunting in the forest. He asks them to help Don Quixote. The Duke and Duchess invite the wandering knight to visit them in their castle.
The Duke’s castle. All is ready for the reception of Don Quixote. Having heard from Sancho Panza the happy story of Kitri and Basilio’s love, the Duke and Duchess have kindly agreed to allow them to hold their wedding party in the castle. Don Quixote and Sancho Panza are invited to occupy the seats of honour. A solemn procession files past. Don Quixote blesses Kitri, whom he helped to unite with Basilio. The festivities continue. All thank the valiant knight and his faithful sword-bearer.