St Petersburg, Mariinsky Theatre

Don Quixote

ballet in three acts

Performance by the Leonid Yakobson Ballet Theatre


Soloists of the Leonid Yakobson Ballet Theatre

St Petersburg State Academic Symphony Orchestra


Music by Ludwig Minkus
Libretto and production by Johan Kobborg based on a ballet by Marius Petipa
Set design by Jérôme Kaplan
Lighting design by 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.

About the production

Johan Kobborg, the world-class ballet star who has also earned a reputation for himself as a choreographer at the world's major ballet venues, has completed his work at the Leonid Yacobson Ballet Theatre to stage the premiere of his own take on the Don Quixote ballet, set to music by Ludwig Minkus.
This show is the first ballet production in a series of anniversary events dedicated to the Year of Marius Petipa in Russia. A roller-coaster of a plot and a cast of spitfire characters are brought to life by expressive choreography and a gorgeous set design, courtesy of the world-class genius Jérôme Kaplan. The show also offers a refreshing approach to the classics, which it owes to its producer, Johan Kobborg, an ardent lover of Russian ballet, who is well-known as both a choreographer and a brilliant danseur to audiences of both the Bolshoi and Mariinsky Theatre. After this premiere, the great master's reputation as a paragon of male dance performances will very likely get augmented by worldwide fame as an attentive interpreter of the cultural heritage left by Marius Ivanovich Petipa, known as 'the Russian Frenchman'. This has been Johan Kobborg's first time staging a ballet in St. Petersburg, and first collaboration with the Leonid Yacobson Ballet Theatre.

Production Sponsor: Toshihiko Takahashi

Running time 2 hours 30 minutes
Presented with two intervals

Established in 1969 by Leonid Veniaminovich Yakobson, the St Petersburg State Academic Ballet Theatre rightly bears the name of its founder and carefully preserves the traditions he laid down. Today the company is developing several trends in its repertoire – the classics, Leonid Yakobson’s own works and productions by contemporary Russian choreographers. The theatre’s work has received a special prize from the Golden Mask festival jury (for the production The Wedding Cortege), St Petersburg’s highest theatre prize the Golden Sofit and the Taglioni Prize, established in 2014 by the Vladimir Malakhov Foundation (for the programme Classical Miniatures by Leonid Yakobson). The company performs at various theatres in St Petersburg, appears at major international festivals and performs in towns and cities throughout Russia, France, Italy, Spain, the USA, Canada, Japan, China, Mexico, Finland, Croatia, Switzerland, Belarus and Estonia.

Artistic Director – Honoured Artist of Russia, Andrian Fadeyev

Age category 6+

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