Don Quixote


Don Quixote ballet. Music by Ludwig Minkus arranged and orchestrated by John Lanchbery.  Choreographed 2014 by Maina Gielgud after Rudolf Nureyev at the Ballet Company of Teatro alla Scala (Ballet Director Makhar Vaziev). Stars Giuseppe Conte (Don Quixote), Gianluca Schiavoni (Sancho Panza), Natalia Osipova (Kitri/Dulcinea), Leonid Sarafanov (Basilio), Matthew Endicott (Lorenzo), Riccardo Massimi (Gamache), Lusymay Di Stefano and Denise Gazzo (Two friends of Kitri), Vittoria Valerio (Street dancer), Christian Fegetti (Espada), Nicoletta Manni (Queen of the Dryads), Serena Sarnataro (Cupid), Antonino Sutera (Gypsy), Deborah Gismondi and Emanuela Montanari (Two Gypsies), Luigi Saruggia and Caroline Westcombe (King and Queen of the Gypsies), Vittoria Valerio and Christian Fagetti (Fandango soloists), and Virna Toppi (Bridesmaid). In addition, students of the Ballet Academy of Teatro alla Scala were directed by Frédéric Olivieri.  Alexander Titov conducts the Orchestra of the Teatro alla Scala. Set design by Raffaelle del Savio; costume design by Anna Anni; costume design supervised by Irene Moti; lighting design by Marco Filibeck; video director was Patrizia Carmine. Released 2016, disc has 5.1 dts-HD Master Audio sound. Grade: D+

The aim of Maina Gielgud (following Rudolf Nureyev) in this production is not to get laughs but to cram as much elite dancing as possible into every bar of music. So if you are a dance professional, this title could be an important document for you. Alas, for the rest of us the designs here are too monotonous and the lighting too meager in Acts 2 and 3 for this to be enjoyable in the HT.

Here's Don Quixote (Giuseppe Conte) in chambers. Note the shadows and the red-maroon-brown color scheme. These are the colors of Spain. But 2 hours of nothing but this gets wearisome:

The square in Barcelona. This is about as bright as the production will get and everything is red, orange, or brown:

Meet Basilio (Leonid Sarafanov) and his sweetheart Kitri (Natalia Osipova), who dance this as well as anyone:

Gamache (Riccardo Massimi) appears in a rare burst of green:


Espada (Christian Fegetti) is the famous toreador:

His partner is called A Street Dancer (Vittoria Valerio), but I think everyone knows her as Mercedes:


The fight is about to break out:


The disturbance is interrupted by the appearance of a strange knight and his pitiful squire, Sancho Panza (Gianluca Schiavoni). Knight and squire look goofy enough, but they are not very funny:

Sancho has never before gotten so much attention from the town girls:

And the Don gets to dance (slowly) with Kitri:

Kitri's friends (Lusymay Di Stefano and Denise Gazzo) wear dresses very similar to Kitri's:

Kitri rejects an offer of marriage from Gamache. She and Basilio run away. Act 1 is a bit drab. But the dancing is brilliant and the lighting is bright enough for Patrizia Carmine to get decent video:


Act 2 starts with a long and wonderful love duet between Basilio and Kitri. It's night in the country and everything is dark. Below is the best screenshot I could get of the duet. This was probably very moving in the live show; but in my HT I kept longing for more light to see the dancing better:

The gypsy dancing is possibly as good as anything that has been done live; but once again, it's too dark and grainy to enjoy in the HT. The only picture I could get is the shot below at the end of the Gypsy show:

The lights come up a bit for Don Quixote's dream, in which he is an active dancer:

The Act 3 tavern scene is also too dark to enjoy in the HT,  but I did get this view of the runaways, Kitri's friends, and Espada:

The next screenshot is from the Spanish Dance in Scene 2 of Act 3. For 2 and 1/2 minutes [Chapter 42] the center stage is dark except for red flood lights. (In the image below, there is a white spot on Espada and Mercedes close to the stage.) During this chapter, my mind blows a fuse. This is the worst chapter of video that I've seen in 9 years of reviewing fine-art Blu-rays. I suppose all this was well received by the live audience. But this show as designed did not have the qualities necessary to film a successful video for home consumption:

The rest of the wedding scene has more light, but it still has the same monotonous colors with the addition of some white for the stars. Below you see Kitri's balancing pose, which she could hold for only a split second:

I can't suggest this title to ordinary viewers. The Dutch version would still be the first choice for the HT. But if you make the effort to sit through subject title, you can see Nureyev's intense choreography and grasp how wonderful a better designed and produced performance of his vision could be in the HT. Now you've been warned. If you have a special reason to watch this, go for it. Grade: D+.