I attended another spectacular performance – Don Quixote – at Bucharest National Opera House last night. The ballet was choreographed by Czech choreographer Jaroslav Slavický. His adaptation is a more “modern version” of the original Bolshoi Ballet production from 1869 composed by Marius Petipa, and choreographed by South African born Ludwig Minkus. The ballet is based on an episode from Don Quixote de la Mancha, a novel by Miguel de Cervantes. Don Quixote is known for its “diversity of dance steps”.
Slavickýs production portrays a more “comic scenario centered around lovers Kitri and Basilio” and the befuddled Don Quixote “confusing Kitri with Dulcinea – the woman of his dreams”.
Quixote’s search for Dulcinea begins as Kitri and Basilio run away to avoid being parted by her disapproving father, Don Lorenzo. The “knight contributes significantly to bringing the lovers together,” and he eventually helps seal their marriage by getting Don Lorenzo to accept their love”.
Don Quixote – Knight and Gentleman of La Mancha
Filled with “earnestness and courtly manners, Don Quixote is an older gentleman eager for an adventure”. A dream “spurs Quixote along, and he sets out with his squire, Sancho Panza, to save Dulcinea, an imaginary woman”. His mind “drifts away, as he dreams of living a life of heroic deeds with his beloved Dulcinea”.
Sancho Panza – Squire to Don Quixote
Sancho is “Don Quixote’s loyal sidekick and a foil to his delusions”. Jovial Sancho Panza “brings comedic relief to the ballet by accidentally making a fool of himself on multiple occasions, due to his curiosity”.
Kitri – Daughter to Lorenzo, Lover of Basilio
“Spirited and full of life, Kitri is in love with the town barber, Basilio.” Her father, Don Lorenzo, has other plans for her, which she resists “with a fiery zeal”. Known for her beauty, Don Quixote mistakes her for Dulcinea and “pursues her with fervor”.
Basilio – Kitri’s Lover
Flirtatious Basilio “captures Kitri’s heart and she his”. When her father learns of their romance, the two must run away together to escape Don Lorenzo’s wrath. Basilio is “roguish and witty as he attempts to thwart the efforts of Gamache, the man Kitri’s father would rather she marry”.
Gamache – Betrothed to Kitri
A wealthy nobleman, “foppish” Gamache is “incredibly vain and self-important. He rests on his laurels when it comes to pursuing Kitri”. Her “rejection and ridicule doesn’t damage Gamache’s heart as much as it threatens his ego”.
Don Lorenzo – Innkeeper and Father to Kitri
Kitri’s father and the local innkeeper, Don Lorenzo’s “love for his daughter causes him to resist the idea of her marrying a barber”. He demands that she “take the hand of wealthy Gamache”. Don Lorenzo has “all the strengths and failings of most parents”. In the end, “he only wants his daughter to be happy”.
- Kitri – Ada Gonzales
- Basilio – Valentin Stoica
- Don Quixote – Ştefan Meşter
- Sancho Panza – Mircea Ioniță
- Don Lorenzo – Vicențiu Popescu
- Gamache – Federico Ginetti
- Friends of Kitri and Basilio – Mercedes – Julia Baro and Espado – Egoitz Segura
- Conductor – Ciprian Teodoraşcu
- Orchestra and Ballet Ensemble Bucharest National Opera
A rough summary of the four-act ballet is provided below.
Townspeople gather at Don Lorenzo’s inn in Seville. His daughter, Kitri, can’t wait to meet her lover, the town barber Basilio. The two embrace and dance. Don Lorenzo sees them, disapproves of Basilio, and separates them. With Don Lorenzo’s encouragement, Gamache, a rich nobleman, enters the scene and tries to win Kitri’s heart. She’s not interested.
Lively toreadors and other merrymakers are interrupted when Don Quixote and Sancho Panza reach Don Lorenzo’s inn. Don Quixote is captivated by Kitri, but she and Basilio run away to be together against her father’s will. They’re followed by Gamache, Don Lorenzo, Don Quixote, and Sancho Panza.
Kitri and Basil reach a band of gypsies camped near a windmill. The Gypsies offer shelter and to hide them from Don Lorenzo and Gamache. Soon, Don Quixote and Sancho Panza arrive at the same camp.
When Don Quixote meets Kitri again, he tries to conquer her heart by proving his bravery. He fights the windmill, which he believes to be a giant, but injures himself and falls asleep. In his dreams, he envisions finally meeting his beloved Dulcinea.
Don Quixote awakens to the sound of Don Lorenzo and Gamache furiously looking for Kitri and Basilio, who have already departed the gypsy camp. Don Quixote tries to protect them from their relentless pursuers and lead Don Lorenzo and Gamache astray. Unfortunately, Sancho Panza unwittingly shows them the direction Kitri and Basilio fled. Quixote and Sancho Panza catch up with the couple and warn them.
A crowd of revelers has gathered for a party after a bullfight. Toreadors, and Espado and his girlfriend Mercedes join the merriment and dancing. Kitri and Basilio arrive and hide, but they’re discovered by Don Lorenzo, who tries to force an engagement between Kitri and Gamache. She resists.
Desperate, Basilio fakes suicide to break up the scene. Don Quixote arrives, and at Kitri’s request, convinces Don Lorenzo to satisfy Basilio’s last wish and give the lovers a parental blessing. Believing Basilio to be dead, Lorenzo accepts and blesses their union. When Basilio stands up unscathed, Don Lorenzo realizes he’s been tricked!
Kitri marries Basilio. As guest of honor at the wedding, Don Quixote wishes Kitri and Basilio happiness, but the “wandering knight” resumes his “unflinching quest for love and Dulcinea”.
I’m thoroughly enjoying Bucharest ballet performances and have a ticket for Giselle on Saturday evening! I’m no expert, but the dancers were fluid, graceful, and expressive. The quality of the musical score was outstanding, as were the costumes, stage sets, and lighting. The audience well-appreciated the dancers’ full-hearted performance and gave them resounding applause. There were many dancers in the concert house – young and older. You can spot them by their posture and physique. There’s clearly an abundance of local performing arts creativity and talent in Bucharest!