Exhilarating take on ballet classic
Grand Theatre, HK Cultural Centre
There is no more joyous ballet in the classical repertoire than Don Quixote. The story is loosely based on an episode from Spanish author Miguel de Cervantes' masterpiece.
Vivacious Kitri and dashing but penniless Basilio are in love. When Kitri's father wants to marry her to a wealthy fop, she elopes with Basilio and various adventures ensue. The lovers are aided and abetted by an assortment of toreadors, gypsies, street dancers and Don Quixote himself (a non-dancing role), who helps to bring about the inevitable happy ending.
This pinnacle of 19th-century ballet owes its enduring popularity to an irresistible score by Ludwig Minkus and magnificent choreography by two supreme masters, Marius Petipa, who created it in 1869, and Alexander Gorsky, whose revised 1900 version forms the basis for almost all today's productions.
No company is better qualified to perform it than St Petersburg's Mariinsky Ballet, where it has been a cornerstone of the repertoire for 140 years. Their production puts plot firmly in second place to focus on the dancing - and what dancing it is.
Covering the full spectrum of classical ballet from virtuoso fireworks of the celebrated grand pas de deux to the wealth of character dancing, this is 19th-century ballet as only the great Russian troupes can present it.
The opening night saw the company in exhilarating form. Alina Somova was a deliciously flirtatious Kitri with a spectacular technique - her speed and extensions dazzling and her balances astonishing.
As Basilio, Vladimir Shklyarov showed why he has become one of the ballet world's most talked-about male dancers, but it was a shame his Act 1 solo was cut. There was also a sensational performance from Karen Ioanissian as the matador Espada.