domenica 13 gennaio 2013

Very Elegant in 30 Dicembre 2012

Very Elegant Minkus' 'Don Quixote' in Rome, reviewed by GIUSEPPE PENNISI Christmas and New Year is the period when all major opera houses stage ballet, either with their own ballet formation (if they have one) or by inviting a ballet company. Ballet is often the ideal family show as well as a way to introduce children to the dress code and the behavior expected when in one of the Temples of Music. Thus, programs feature Giselle, Swan Lake, Nutcracker, Sleeping Beauty, Romeo and Juliet and so on. After a series of performances of The Nutcracker in its smaller house (Teatro Nazionale), Rome's Teatro dell'Opera chose a revival of the Petipa-Minkus' Don Quixote for the main house; three couples of principals alternate for some twelve performances until 5 January 2013. I attended the opening night on 22 December 2012.
A scene Act I of from Minkus' 'Don Quixote' at Rome's Teatro del Opera. Photo © 2012 Lelli and Masotti. Click on the image for higher resolution Don Quixote has a peculiar history. Ludwig Minkus had been born in that part of the Austro-Hungarian Empire which is now the Czech Republic, had moved to Vienna as a child, but his effective career had started in Paris where ballet had an important role among the performing arts. From France he had moved to Moscow and St Petersburg where he had gained the esteem, trust and appreciation of Marius Petipa, then the 'real boss' of ballet in the Imperial Theatres. For the Moscow Imperial Bolshoi Theatre 1869-70 season, Petipa commissioned Minkus to create a Grand ballet based on Cervantes' novel. Petipa himself worked with another choreographer Alexander Gorsky. As a matter of fact, Don Quixote is only a pretext for a contrasted love story where the knight settles things right, after, of course, a fight with the windmills. Minkus supplied a score filled with a great variety of Spanish-styled flare, juxtaposed with neoclassical music (in the 'dream' scene) and quite a few reminiscences of Vienna.
A scene from Act II of Minkus' 'Don Quixote' at Rome's Teatro del Opera. Photo © 2012 Lelli and Masotti. Click on the image for higher resolution Don Quixote premiered to a resounding success on 26 December 1869 in the Russian Calendar (14 December, Western Calendar) and went on to become a celebrated work in the classical ballet repertory. Until the Sixties, in the US and in Europe only the grand pas-de-deux was known (as part of a program George Balanchine New York City Ballet). The full ballet was 'exported' to the West by Rudolf Nureyev when he defected from the USSR. Now the Petipa-Gorsky choreography is in the repertory of the American Ballet Theatre (as updated by Nureyev), and of the Royal Ballet (as updated by Baryshnikov); a new very modern version (by Alexei Ratmansky) was unveiled in Amsterdam. The Rome version is the work of Mikhail Messerer and is as faithful as possible to Petipa-Gorgsky's original.
Mauro Murri in the title role of Minkus' 'Don Quixote' (Act III) at Rome's Teatro del Opera. Photo © 2012 Lelli and Masotti. Click on the image for higher resolution The stage sets and costumes (by Francesco Zito and Antonella Conte) are very elegant and with their delicate colors show how Spain could be imagined by the Russian aristocracy around 1870. Israeli conductor Nir Cabaretti and the orchestra deal well with the score. All the dancers (especially Mauro Murri in the title role) and the corps de ballet performed well, but the Cuban Venus Villa and Rolando Sarabia (the two lovers) received real ovations at the end of the performance. Copyright © 30 December 2012 Giuseppe Pennisi, Rome, Italy
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