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BrumHour was invited to see Don Quixote by Birmingham Royal Ballet.
By Dave Massey twitter.com/BrumHour
Review: Birmingham Royal Ballet – Don Quixote at Birmingham Hippodrome
A fantastically fun ballet!
Choreography by Carlos Acosta; after Marius Petipa, Original music by Ludwig Minkus, arranged in 2022 plus original music for part of act two by Hans Vercauteren
A man with an overactive imagination, Don Quixote (Tom Rogers) finds himself haunted by a woman, Dulcinea (Yvette Knight), dark spectres and sets off on an adventure with his Squire, Sancho Panza (Kit Holder). He finds himself in a town where innkeeper Lorenzo (Valentin Olovyannikov) is hoping his daughter Kitri (Momoko Hirata) will marry Gamache (Rory Mackay), a rich nobleman, but his daughter loves Basilio (Mathias Dingman). The two lovers run off. It is not long before Don Quixote comes to find them.
A 400-year-old book by Miguel de Cervantes which became a ballet first in 1869 form the basis for this fun, thoughtful and at times very whimsical story which is told in three acts. This production itself was delayed by nearly two years – originally it was to be Carlos Acosta’s first main presentation on becoming the Birmingham Royal Ballet’s Artistic Director in January 2020. There’s a sheer sense of relief in it being a reality and pride that a city such as Birmingham can produce such a stunning piece of ballet, particularly after a delay like this.
Momoko Hirata and Mathias Dingman were utterly stunning in their roles as unapproved lovers, dignified, skilled and confident in the most serious roles in this lighter natured production. The whole company seemed thrilled to be performing this and their excitement was very infectious, particularly in the crowd scenes which utilise the large stage at the Hippodrome. Tom Rogers is brilliantly vulnerable as Don Quixote our guide through this story looking suitably ridiculous on a makeshift wooden horse. There’s even a chance for Brandon Lawrence to distract us as a matador.
The lighting gives key clues as time progresses in the story, from taverns to market squares to windmills and under a magical tree. There is plenty of gesturing, cheers and even forms of sign language for the characters to communicate their intentions and meaning, this makes the story pretty clear to an audience in absence of any dialogue. This is a key factor for me as I try to avoid reading the plot before I’ve seen a production if I can. Anyone coming as a plus one should be able to understand, with little knowledge, what is happening. Carlos Acosta’s clear choreography after Marius Petipa really makes understanding the story clear.
Themes of class systems, stress related to unknown trauma and doing what expected of you, are all peppered through this dreamy story and the costumes really help an audience know who is leading at any one point, with the ensemble in more subdued clothing early on and bolder golden colours later on.
It’s no wonder these ballet reviews end up being so lengthy, on top of everything else is the beautiful music from the Royal Ballet Sinfonia, elegant, vibrant and absorbing! The opening set dressing manages to look very Birmingham whilst representing its Spanish roots – all brickwork and arches.
A fantastically fun ballet Birmingham Royal Ballet – Don Quixote is at Birmingham Hippodrome until 26th February. Book tickets here: birminghamhippodrome.com/calendar/brb-don-quixote-2. Discover more about Birmingham Royal Ballet here: brb.org.uk