It is guaranteed to lift your spirits as Culture Whisper's ★★★★★ review, below, amply demonstrates
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Birmingham Royal Ballet’s Don Quixote is as close to perfection as a three-act ballet can be with eye-filling sets and costumes (Tim Hatley), intelligent lighting (Peter Mumford), atmospheric video (Nina Dunn) and vivacious dancing from a company on top form. Add to that a couple of truly memorable performances, and on press night three hours went by in an eye-blink.
BRB director Carlos Acosta adapted his ambitious 2103 Royal Ballet production of Don Quixote to meet the demands of a touring company and came up with a new uncluttered production that privileges dancing, while providing it with an exquisite framework of sets and costumes.
His choreography responds with intelligence and wit to Minkus’s sparkling score, played live by the Royal Ballet Sinfonia under Paul Murphy.
Briefly, the ballet tells the story of two village lovers somewhere in Spain: the ever-resourceful Kitri and the penniless barber Basilio. Her tavern-owner father disapproves and wants her to marry the rich fop Gamache. Simultaneously, the old nobleman Don Quixote, accompanied by his faithful Sancho Panza, sets off to perform feats of chivalry and thus win the heart of his ideal woman Dulcinea.
After many adventures, Don Quixote persuades Kitri's father to let her marry Basilio, and the ballet ends in a glorious wedding feast.
With numerous named characters and lots of ensemble numbers, the ballet is a whirlwind of dancing, most of it requiring virtuoso technique and compelling acting. On press night the lead roles of Kitri and Basilio went to company principals Momoko Hirata (pictured top) and Mathias Dingman.
The petite Hirata is a lovely ballerina simultaneous delicate and powerful. The earthy role of the sassy Kitri doesn’t come naturally to her, but she grew into it and by the wedding scene was an authoritative Kitri, her fouettés breathtakingly assured. But the highlight of her performance came in the vision scene of Act II, when Don Quixote dreams of a magical Garden of the Dryads and pictures Kitri as Dulcinea.
Plaudits, too, to Tim Hatley for truly magical designs in tones of white and gold for this scene.
Dingman is a good partner and a competent dancer, but lacks the acting ability that made his boss, Acosta, such a cheeky, irresistible Basilio.
The whole company danced with vim and verve and looked as though they were having fun.
There were two remarkable performances on the night: Brandon Lawrence as the famous matador Espada and Tzu-Chao Chou as Amour in the Garden of the Dryads, a role normally danced by a woman.
Lawrence is tall and sublimely elegant, his dancing so effortless one moment is on the ground, the next he’s soaring in a perfect split jeté and you’ve no idea how he got there. His acting is excellent, with his matador a perfect combination of humour and cod-Spanish machismo.
As Amour Tzu-Chao Chou was an impish delight, with perfect control of his dizzying speed and an appealing way of fixing the audience with his eye and a knowing smile.
In short, BRB’s Don Quixote offers the perfect antidote to the troubled times we’re living through. I say, go!
|What||Birmingham Royal Ballet, Don Quixote in cinemas|
On 26 Oct 22, Times vary according to venue. Dur.: 2 hours 50 mins inc two intervals