There was much to enjoy in the Bolshoi Ballet’s performance of Don Quixote yesterday, which was broadcast to the Phoenix live from Moscow.

The production was unashamedly a vehicle to show the company’s amazing technical prowess, and there were moments of breathtaking excitement, such as when Kitri (Osipova) runs and throws herself across the stage into Basilio’s (Vasilev’s) arms.

Parts of the first act run the risk of turning into one very long, exhausting grand allegro, but the production paced the highs and lows, building up to the big moments for the principals, which were truly spectacular. However, it wasn’t just spectacle: Osipova is a wonderful actress, who uses Kitri’s flirtatious and volatile relationship with Basilio to add excitement and humour to her dancing. They are a very sexy couple on stage.

There were low points too. For me, the pseudo Spanish dances and the Gipsy dance in Act 2 were just horrible. I thought that the music was cheesy, the choreography corny, and if I could have pressed “fast forward” I would have done so. Such a relief then, when Don Quixote fell asleep and there was the beautiful dream scene. Cupid was danced exquisitely; she was fast, light, dynamic and charming. It was also refreshing to be able to see the patterns of the choreography, which were less clear in the more crowded and colourful scenes.

One gripe: it was a shame that the cameral work rarely showed the entire stage. The sets and costumes were sumptuous (the wardrobe covered everything from tutus through toreadors, gypsies, cupids and court dress), but much of the time it wasn’t possible to see the full picture. There were also some technical hitches with the transmission, and it was a pity that the credits rolled so quickly at the end. I should have liked to have known who many of the soloists were. Nevertheless, it was a great opportunity to see this great company giving an exceptional performance.

Maggie

7 March 2011

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