Don Quixote, Birmingham Royal Ballet, Birmingham Hippodrome, 25 February 2022, 5****. Paul Gray & David Gray

Credit: Johan Persson

A sun-filled, fun-filled frolic of a ballet, Carlos Acosta’s production of Don Quixote for Birmingham Royal Ballet delivers on colour, energy, bling and some spectacularly virtuosic dance.

There is little in the way of plot:  slightly deranged old knight seeks adventure – boy meets girl – boy can’t marry girl because he has no money – but then all obstacles are improbably overcome so boy does marry girl – strange old knight continues his quest.  The paucity of narrative, however, is not a problem; we’re not here for high drama or raw emotion, we are here for the leaps, turns, lifts and choreographic fireworks which BRB’s highly skilled ensemble of dancers serve in abundance.

Mathias Dingman, in the role of the afore mentioned boy, Basilio, has an impressive and athletic presence and drives his energy into the floor to create seemingly effortless elevation and lightness of movement.  Dancing the part of the girl, Kitri, Momoko Hirata is at once both powerful and delicate,  poised and fluid.  As a couple they move beautifully together.  Their pas de deux  at the start of Act II is heavenly with some highly expressive changes of flow and direction during lifts that illustrate how totally in sympathy they are with one another.

Special mention is due to Tzu-Chao Chou, a puckish Amour – so fleet of foot that he appears to barely make contact with the floor.

Conductor, Paul Murphy and his band work hard in the pit to breathe life into Ludwig Minkus’ essentially quite trite and repetitive score.   Arranger, Hans Vercauteren, lifts the musical quality with a specially written Act II Campfire Sequence which brings three live guitar players on to the stage and, while remaining true to the musical language of the source material, displays much greater compositional imagination.

The shortcomings of the original score aside, the production and choreography lavish upon us everything one could wish for in an Iberian fantasia: oodles of suave flamenco flourishes, more brocade that you can shake a stick at, clicks and claps, mantillas and matadors, fans and fandangos and a good deal of heartfelt Mediterranean warmth.

Creatives and Cast

Choreography –  Carlos Acosta (after Marius Petipa)

Production – Carlos Acosta

Set & Costume Design – Tim Hatley

Video Design – Nina Dunn

Lighting – Peter Mumford

Stages by  – Christopher Saunders

Arrangement and New Musical Material – Hans Vercauteren

Don Quixote – Tom Rogers

Sancho Panza, his squire – Kit Holder

Lorenzo, the innkeeper – Valentin Olovyannikov

Kitri, his daughter – Momoko Hirata

Basilio, a young barber – Mathias Dingman

Gamache, a rich nobleman – Rory Mackay

Espada, a famous matador – Brandon Lawrence

Mercedes, a street dancer – Yu Kurihara

Kitri’s Friends – Miki Mizutani, Yaoqian Shang

Two Matadors – Gabriel Anderson, Haoliang Feng

Gypsy Couple – Emma Price, Javier Rojas

The Queen of the Dryads – Yu Kurihara

Amour – Tzu-Chao Chou

Dulcinea – Yvette Knight

Fandango Couple – Emma Price, Max Maslen

Townspeople, Matadors, Gypsies, Dryads – Artists of Birmingham Royal Ballet, Students of the Royal Baller, English National Ballet School and Central School of Ballet

Royal Ballet Sinfonia

Conductor – Paul Murphy

Leader – Robert Gibbs

Original music by Ludwig Minkus




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