St Petersburg, Mariinsky Theatre

Don Quixote

ballet by Ludwig Minkus

Performance by the Leonid Yakobson Ballet Theatre


Soloists of the Leonid Yakobson Ballet Theatre

The performance lasts 2 hours and 30 minutes

There will be two intervals

Age category 6+


Music by Ludwig Minkus
Choreography by Marius Petipa and Alexander Gorsky
Libretto and this choreographic version by Johan Kobborg
Sets and costumes designed by Jérôme Kaplan
Lighting Designer Vincent Millet


Miguel de Cervantes' study
Woefully lacking inspiration, the great Spanish writer struggles with every word. Hardship has plagued Cervantes over the latter years, and now most of his property is being moved out and stored away.
His two loyal servants are overseeing the local labourers, who are packing up and carrying off the books from the writer's library. Albeit initially irritated by their presence. Cervantes starts to look closer at the  people around him, and takes an interest in the romantic interludes playing out in front of him. His inspiration sparks again, and ideas come to him in abundance. The writer gleefully begins to plot out his next book. His new characters and their personalities soon become clear, and, writing with renewed passion, Cervantes vividly dreams up scenarios and stories where the dramatis personae have an uncanny resemblance to some familiar faces.

A Square in Barcelona
The carefree Kitri, daughter of the local innkeeper Lorenzo, is flirting with a young barber named Basilio. However, Basilio's intentions are far more serious than the coy maiden could have assumed. Upon learning that Gamache, the eccentric and wealthy owner of the local bull-fighting arena, has marriage interests in Kitri, he immediately starts making his own wedding plans. Meanwhile, the bull-fighters return from a successful performance, headed by their main talent, the legendary Espada. They immediately gain the full attention of a crowd of adoring women. Mercedes, a young and beautiful lady, is especially interested in Espada. Don Quixote, who has declared himself a wandering knight in constant search of adventure, enters the square with his loyal squire Sancho Panza. For a while, they become the centre of attention of the playful and exuberant crowd. Recognising in Kitri and Basilio the romantic passionate love that he himself has been chasing, Don Quixote takes an immediate liking to the young sweethearts. It is not long before Kitri, Basilio, and their new friends sneak off, while Lorenzo and Gamache are left behind.

Scene 1. A Taverna
Barcelona's youth celebrate, joined by Don Quixote and Sancho Panza. Some tension is brought on by the dancing gypsy ladies, but it calms and settles with Basilio and Espada finding mutual respect.
Suddenly, Gamache and Lorenzo catch up with the festive crowd. Aided by the gypsy women, Kitri once again manages to escape her strict parent's grip. Basilio, Don Quixote, and Sancho Panza quickly follow suit.

Scene 2. A Gypsy Camp
Enjoying the welcoming hospitality and the exotic and vibrant atmosphere of the gypsy camp, the young lovers and Don Quixote and Sancho Panza are absorbed and captivated by the very different way of life. But this gathering, too, abruptly comes to an end. Lorenzo manages to catch his daughter and rush her away. Don Quixote is both confused and disappointed by the others' lack of desire to help the young lovers in need. All alone, the sad knight drifts away in visions and dreams.

Scene 3. Don Quixote's Vision
Don Quixote traverses the realm of dreams, guided by Cupid and surrounded by ethereal maidens. The knight realises that actions are needed to change fate for the better. As he awakens, Sancho hands him an invitation to Kitri and Gamache's wedding. Determined to help, Don Quixote sets off to do his duty, to speak up and save both the rightful love of Kitri and Basilio and his own honour.

A Square in Barcelona
Kitri and Gamache's wedding ceremony is well under way when Basilio bursts in and interrupts it. Right in front of the wedding guests, the young man commits what looks like suicide. Weighed by little to no guilt, Lorenzo is forced to do the right thing by the hand of Don Quixote, and succumbs to the pressure. He blesses Kitri and her beloved, reasoning that Basilio is already dead anyway. Now blessed, Basilio jumps to his feet, alive and well. Lorenzo believes that he has performed a miracle. Utterly delighted by his new-found powers, the innkeeper permits his daughter to wed Basilio. Festivities resume, and a priest joins the young couple in marriage.

We are back in Cervantes' study. Inspired by his friends and new impressions, the writer has finished his book. He has written what is to become one of the most momentous pieces of world literature. His readers will embark on a beautiful journey, full of adventure, of search and discovery, but most importantly of all, of love.

Don Quixote at the Leonid Yacobson Ballet Theatre was created to commemorate two centuries since the of birth of Marius Petipa and immediately became a firm favourite with audiences and professionals alike – the production has been included in a Russian and international tour programme of the Golden Mask festival. Johan Kobborg has produced his own version of this legendary ballet to music by Ludwig Minkus. Denmark’s Kobborg, having himself recently dazzled as Basilio in Don Quixote, has demonstrated a fresh approach to an eternal classic. The ballet-master did not reject former choreographic gems, instead unifying them so that each and every audience feels at home in this celebration of dance. In his version of the ballet, Miguel de Cervantes makes his appearance – he is writing his novel before our very eyes. Here there is the hot Spanish sun, there is the fast-paced storyline, there is the fiery temperament of the characters, all underscored by the luxuriant designs by the internationally acclaimed Jérôme Kaplan.

“Kobborg ‘thinks’ dance as a wonderful dancer and is logical as an heir to the Danish school. He has given to the toreador Espada and the Street Dancer a love story, since they have been competing in dance for an age, and also to Sancho Panza, deprived of female attention, as he is pinched by the girls. The scene of Don Quixote’s dream is highlighted with a gentle humour: the unworldly creatures of the corps de ballet are clad in peasant dresses elevated to tutus – which is logical if the knight sees a Beautiful Lady in the daughter of the innkeeper. And the designer Jérôme Kaplan, inspired by the engravings of Gustave Doré for Don Quixote, has created a production that is powerful and cultured in a way not typical of ballet.”
Rossiyskaya Gazeta

“The young company has enthusiastically accepted the challenge. For many of those participating in the production, this Don Quixote was the first in their lives, and they had not only to learn the complex supports and fouettés (with Kobborg this is so even for the traditionally ‘pedestrian’ Gamache, Kitri’s luckless betrothed), but also, first and foremost, the vanishing art of pantomime, which is generously sprinkled throughout this version on all of the characters.”
Bolshoi Theatre magazine

“The colourful and original costumes are amazing, as are the lovingly and tastefully conceived sets, produced by French theatre designer Jérôme Kaplan.”

The production has been made possible thanks to the support of Mr Toshihiko Takahashi

The St Petersburg State Academic Leonid Yacobson Ballet Theatre directed by Honoured Artist of Russia Andrian Fadeyev is a unique dance company. The theatre can take pride in its fifty-year history and is privileged to bear the name of one of the 20th century’s most outstanding Russian choreographers. Today, the St Petersburg State Academic Leonid Yacobson Ballet Theatre is one of the country’s greatest ballet companies and it has been a recipient of St Petersburg’s loftiest theatre award the Golden Sofit, Russia’s national theatre prize the Golden Mask and the prestigious Taglioni European Ballet Award.

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