John Mallinson

The Royal Ballet's Don Quixote

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Carlos Acosta has a new website and the top news item is 'Carlos to Choreograph 3 Act Ballet for the Royal Opera House!' - his exclamation mark, not mine. The ballet is Don Quixote, out of the RB's rep since Ross Stretton introduced the Australian Ballet's Nureyev version in 2001. I assume that the headline is a bit exaggerated but I wonder what his source will be. Presumably it will be produced for the 2013-14 season.

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So, two failed attempts obviously haven't put anyone off?

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I covet the username of Don Q fan! I go to, or buy the DVD for, as many versions as I can. Unfortunately I was knee deep in toddlers in 2001 and couldn't see the RB one so I would welcome a new RB version. Thank you for posting :)

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When, few months ago, I asked here "who could dance Basil in the Royal Ballet at a principal level?" I already know about that, now the answer to the question is becoming urgent.

 

The situation among women seems much less desperate, despite Tamara departure... she was such a top list name :-(

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Perhaps they could persuade Joel Carreno to guest! He is my favourite Basilio since Daniel de Andrade retired from dancing.

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My goodness John you were up late! Thought I was quick spotting at 5:30 this morning!

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When, few months ago, I asked here "who could dance Basil in the Royal Ballet at a principal level?" I already know about that, now the answer to the question is becoming urgent.

 

 

Steven McRae will be brilliant in the role

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My goodness John you were up late! Thought I was quick spotting at 5:30 this morning!

My goodness Bruce you were up early! Thought I was slow off the mark spotting this at midnight!

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I agree with Dave....could definitely see McRae as Basilio.

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Nunez as Kitri will be bright, bubbly, virtuoso, Latin!!!

Can't wait!!! :)

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I think that casting Don Q would not be much of a problem for the RB provided that full use was made of the talent at all levels of the company. After all, Kitri's and Basilio's variations from the Grand Pas are standard items for many graduate students these days and there is a lot of talent locked away in the lower levels of the company. For example, new recruit Aaron Smyth has already danced Basilio in a production in S. Africa and you can see part of his performance in the last act on Youtube, and I can think of several dancers among the ladies who would be up to the role of Kitri.

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With the greatest respect to Carlos Acosta, has he ever choreographed anything before? A 3-act ballet is a big undertaking.

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Well, he has put together his own Tocorroro (sorry about the spelling) and some mixed programmes that have included his own choreography. Assuming the work will be "after Petipa", he will also be familiar with the traditional choreography and Alonso's wonderful production for the Cuban National Ballet and that is also performed by RDB. I think he is a wonderful choice to mount the production.

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Last months Dancing Times in its article about the Royal Ballets 2012/13 programmes said Kevin O'Hare says his priority is new works and plans a new production of a classic for the 2013/14 season. Now we know what it is! I hoped it would be Don Q as it doesn't seem right that a Company as important as Royal Ballet does not have this great classic in it's rep. I know it will (hopefully!) be third time lucky but I'm sure the Royal Ballet have the talent to make a success of it. I agree I'd love to see Steven MacRae in the role of Basilio though it would be great if they could get Ivan Vasiliev and Osipova for a guest performance. I see they are both guesting with ABT in May as are Alina and Johann. I remember seeing Alina and Angel Corella light up a dreary winter day with their performance in the Nureyev Don Q at the ROH many years ago.

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Hmmm I was hoping the new production would be getting rid of the current ghastly Swan Lake ! Aside from reservations about Carlos as a choreographer of a 3 Act ballet, I wonder if Don Q plays to the RB company strengths these days ? I'm expecting to be shot down in flames but I'll say it anyway ..... I worry that the RB are short on dancers (principals or otherwise) who could do the lead roles justice. The memory of Osipova & Vasiliev is still very vivid: their 2010 performances were the only time I have seen a standing ovation for ballet at the RoH - except for Darcey's last show.

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I share your thoughts, Anna (apart from the "these days" - it never has in the past either), so no shooting down from me!

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I don't know Don Quixote (obviously I've heard of it). What kind of dancer is needed for the titular role? I can't believe that a large company like the Royal would struggle to find enough suitable men to take the lead role. What is the problem? Why are people talking about bringing in guest dancers? As others have said before, there are not enough performances for the company principals as it is.

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Basilio and Kitri, imho, requires virtuoso dancers who can act and have an enormous joie de vivre. Also it is very "Russian" in style so the whole company needs to "dance big".

 

A few years ago a friend and I saw the RDB perform Alonso's production (which we had also seen the Cubans do in London). The RDB is steeped in Bournonville style and looked completely different from the performance we had seen in London. This was even more obvious because we saw the truly magnificent Anette Delgado and the awesome Joel Carreno as Basilio. Their style was so completely different - I don't think I had ever realised before how different dancing styles can be. The performance worked because of the differences but I am not so sure that if we had seen an all-Danish cast it would have worked as well (and I adore the RDB so I am not being critical).

 

I am out of touch with the current Royal but I am sure that Carlos Acosta will be the best person to coax the best out of the company with a work he must know like the back of his hand. I'm going to start saving now!

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'I don't know Don Quixote (obviously I've heard of it).'

 

Aileen, to judge by your postings, you seem quite a an authoratitive ballet fan, so how have you managed to avoid such a familiar old staple (some would say 'warhorse') as Don Q? It's a lightweight but thoroughly enjoyable fizz-bang work set in sunny Spain which requires two fairly fizz-bang technicians for the lead roles of Kitri and Basiio. I always look forward to seeing what companies will make of new productions.

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Ann, I've only been watching ballet for a few years. I don't remember when Don Quixote was last performed in London apart from last summer when I think it was performed by the Marinsky. I recollect that I was on holiday at the time and so I didn't go and see it. Have any of the British ballet companies performed it in the last 5 years?

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Have any of the British ballet companies performed it in the last 5 years?

I think not but we've been well served by the Bolshoi, Mariinsky and Ballet Nacional de Cuba so any Royal Ballet production would be head to head with them - assuming those companies can still afford to come to London. (What tragedy if not.)

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Hmmm I was hoping the new production would be getting rid of the current ghastly Swan Lake ! Aside from reservations about Carlos as a choreographer of a 3 Act ballet

 

I love their Swan Lake!

As for Carlos' DQ - I'm guessing its more the staging, than choreographing he'd be doing. My speculation there, I hasten to add.

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I last saw this performed by the RB in November 2001 during Ross Stretton's time as Director. I still have the programme and the cast list. Looking at it now it should have been a stellar performance with Tamara Rojo as Kitri, Johan Kobborg as Basilio and Alina Cojacaru, Marianela Nunez, and Zenaida Yanowsky amongst others in the cast. I had only ever seen it on DVD before from ABT, but I can still remember the sense of disappointment I felt as the RB's version failed 'take off' in a way I cannot put my finger on. It just seemed to lack excitement. I have seen it many times since mainly by the Russian companies and once by ABT with a Russian guest star (Diana Vishneva). It is one of my favourites and to my mind you should get the feeling of sheer enjoyment as soon as the curtain goes up. Dancing for joy and even showing off don't seem to spoil this ballet although I am normally not in favour of ballet becoming a series of gymnastic or athletic feats particularly if they give rise to inappropriate applause which interupt the story line. Perhaps Carlos who is able to convey his sunny, joyous personality into the auditorium will succeed or maybe this ballet just does not suit our own RB. It will certainly be hard to follow the Osipova/Vasiliev performance which I was lucky enough to see the summer before last. Dull would you be of heart to begrudge these two outstanding young people their applause and standing ovations

 

Forgive the slightly muddled post. Too many thought lines going on perhaps?

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Carlos Acosta's name guarantees a sellout even if he only dances a small role in a triple bill, so clever of the RB to invite him to produce a ballet which has been troublesome in the past, the Bolshoi and Mariinsky versions seem to be perfect, so I hope he doesn't change too much, any chance to see this colourful and exciting ballet is good though :)

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I am sure that Carlos Acosta will be the best person to coax the best out of the company with a work he must know like the back of his hand.

 

Or does he? He's presumably done some performances with the Cubans, but he certainly hasn't done any with the Royal for more than a decade - and I can't actually remember whether he danced in their Nureyev production! The Baryshnikov version is certainly before his time. Did Houston have Don Q? I've not followed his guesting career closely enough to know who he's been dancing with on a regular basis.

 

Not only does it require two "fizz-bang technicians", it also requires a ballerina who's good at the cheeky, soubrette-type roles (not to mention a load of supporting dancers with bags of cod-Spanish "attitude", something the RB dancers didn't find too easy a decade ago). Based on her performances of the Don Q pas de deux, I think we all expected Tamara Rojo to be brilliant in it, but the full ballet didn't really suit her, as Pat indicates. Nunez, Yoshida and Cojocaru were much more at home in it.

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I think we all expected Tamara Rojo to be brilliant in it, but the full ballet didn't really suit her,

 

I loved her performances in Milan...

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Alison, I would guess that as RBS students are exposed to Ashton and MacMillan, the Cuban students are exposed to their rep. It must surely be in his blood!

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It's ironic that the Russian companies who, as far as I am aware, are made up almost exclusively of Russian dancers, are apparently so good at Don Quixote whereas the Royal and ENB, who have employed a number of Spanish, Cuban and South American dancers for several years, don't seem to be able to put it on or pull it off.

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Possibly that's because it's a RUSSIAN warhorse choreographed by Petipa!

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Nevertheless, it's supposed to have some Spanish character, isn't it? And other companies in other countries have managed to do it successfully.

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