The American Ballet Theatre's production, choreographed by Mikhail Baryshnikov, of 'Don Quixote', as seen at the Metropolitan Opera House, New York. Score, orchestration and arrangements by Ludwig Minkus.
Baryshnikov, Harvey and Don Quixote is a combination which could hardly fail to be a crowd-pleaser, but in an era when armchair ballet audiences have a huge selection of sure-fire winners to choose from it's worth reflecting on just why this production is so good. This is the 1983 Quixote from the New York Metropolitan Opera House, full-length and, indeed, full of merit. The staging is traditional and over-designed in the best possible way, with Brian Large's video direction capturing the whole apparatus with consummate skill (this is one of the few canned ballets which won't have you fretting over there being too many or not enough close-ups, tracking shots, wide-angle panoramas and so on--they're all there, and they're all uncannily where they should be) and with the cast seemingly having an enormous amount of fun, particularly Baryshnikov himself, whose twinkly eyed Basil is totally engaging. The most intriguing performance, however, falls to Richard Schafer as Quixote. Rather than allow the character to degenerate into buffoonery, Schafer depicts the elderly knight as mysterious and, indeed, almost mystical in his delusions; here, Quixote is not so much a clown but a seer, bearing a strange dignity which contrasts poignantly with the rumbustiousness around him--an elegant twist within an already very pleasing interpretation. --Roger Thomas