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3.6 out of 5 stars
3.6 out of 5 stars
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on 13 April 2007
This is a live recording of a performance by the State Perm Ballet during a tour in Tokyo in 1992. The roles of the two main characters are danced by stars of the Bolshoi Ballet - Nina Ananiashvili (Kitri/Dulcinea) and Alexei Fadeyechev (Basilio).

This is a very enjoyable performance, based on the earlier Petipa and Gorsky versions originally staged in Moscow at the beginning of the 20th century. The resources used by this Russian ballet company are modest, probably due to its touring schedule. The stage is rather small, not giving these Russian dancers ample opportunities to fully display their art.

Still, the performance by the two leading dancers is very good indeed. They are at the peak of their powers, and they show their acting as well as dancing skills. Ananiashvili is excellent as both Kitri and Dulcinea. Her dancing is flawless, particularly in the Dream Scene (in Act 2) and in Act 3. Fadeyechev is in his element as a dashing Basilio, displaying his bravura technique in Act 3. The supporting soloists and the corps de ballet are good rather than excellent.

However, when you compare this recording with the one by the Kirov Ballet (on a DVD, also issued by Kultur International Films), the viewer really feels a much headier atmosphere of southern Spain in the latter version in which everyone on the stage is acting and miming, and participating in the narrative. Having said that, the current DVD under review benefits from a much better picture and sound quality than the Kirov version.
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on 20 September 2006
This is absolutely stunning with superb dancing, music, colours and spectacle. It has a wonderful feeling of jollity and it gives a you feeling of well being. Nina is out of this world and looks good enough to eat.
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on 9 March 2013
This recording made by the Mariinsky Ballet in 2006 is very enjoyable. It is the traditional St Petersburg version based on choreography mainly by Petipa and Gorsky. It may not be as effervescent as the current Bolshoi version; it is more elegant and stylish. I have seen the Bolshoi's enjoyable version on stage several times in recent years, but I feel that their Kitri and Basilio tend to show off pyrotechnics. But, ballet is not gymnastics. It just shows that the styles in Moscow and St Petersburg are different.

In the current recording, Olesya Novikova - usually associated with lyrical roles - takes the role of Kitri. She is an excellent dancer, though slightly restrained in acting. I like her style. The role of Basilio is danced by Leonid Sarafanov (the husband of Novikova in real life); he is rather boyish and suits the role. They show very good rapport. Other supporting roles are danced by excellent soloists, including Yekaterina Kondaurova (Street Dancer) and Andrei Merkuriev (Espada) in Act I and some character dancers in the Tavern Scene (in Act 3), who all produce bravura performance.

What distinguishes this production is the Dream Scene (in Act 2); it is pure Petipa in terms of pattern formation and movements. The role of the Queen of Dryads is danced by Alina Somova, then still a young rising star. Apart from her 180-degree extension, her dancing is stylish. Evgenia Obraztsova is a most charming Amor (Cupid); who can resist her piercing arrow? The corps de ballet (dryads) and the young students of the Vaganova Academy (cupids) show their impeccable schooling and musicality.

The HD picture quality is very good indeed, while the digital surround sound is natural. The video direction by Brian Large is excellent. All in all, this is a performance well worth watching.
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on 24 September 2015
Would not play on my dvd player
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This 2006 presentation by the Mariinsky Ballet provides very enjoyable entertainment on most counts although perhaps it should be mentioned that it has drawn criticism from some ballet perfectionists on particular points. However, for those without particular insider knowledge and concerns, this performance is of sufficient quality to give considerable satisfaction and is up to the standards expected of this ballet company.

On that basis therefore, it is perfectly clear that one of the main strengths of this ballet company is the excellence in considerable depth of its corps de ballet who provide an exciting and flawless performance of their respective roles throughout. This comment would also apply to the children in the company who are equally outstanding in their more limited contribution.

Other well-known and obvious areas of strength are the Mariinsky's costuming and sets which can only be described as sumptuous throughout and which manage to convey the Spanish situation and atmosphere as envisioned initially by Petipa. The orchestra is also excellent and plays with consummate ease and virtuosity under their conductor, Pavel Bubelnikov. The walk-on character role of Quixote is well portrayed by Vladimir Ponomarev who has just the right bearing and gaunt appearance for the role.

Kitri, as danced by Olesya Novikova, is a spectacular role and this dancer is able to carry the role off well enough to satisfy the increasingly rapturous audience. The same can be said of the highly athletic and youthful looking Basilio of Leonid Sarafanov who clearly has an enormous range of skills to offer.

However, it must also be admitted, that both of these can be out-danced with even more spectacular `joie de vivre' by Viengsay Valdes and Romel Frometa in the Cuban National Ballet production for example. Romel even manages to throw his partner way above his head (and catch her!) in a bravura passage towards the end as well as managing all the one-armed lifts with nonchalance. I mention this comparison as it illustrates why some enthusiasts find this Mariinsky performance by some of the stars a little lacking in sheer bravura at times.

The remaining highlighted dancers will also give the same levels of satisfaction but with some of the same reservations. Rather than itemise each point, perhaps it would be fair to summarise this situation with the comment that it is difficult to satisfy all the people all the time but possible to satisfy the majority of people most of the time - and this performance will do that.

The imaging as caught by the experienced Brian Large team is crisp and with involving camera work. The sound is good and presented in DTS 5.0 and stereo.

As commented on at the beginning, this presentation should give lots of pleasure to many but the absolute ballet perfectionists and most knowledgeable viewers. I have some sympathy with this response and have made a passing reference to the fine Cuban production to illustrate it. However, despite these reservations, I would suggest that this disc will give much satisfaction to many if not most viewers.
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on 23 August 2013
The people behind ballet DVD's are seriously missing a trick by not publishing a Don Quixote with Ivan Vasiliev and Natalia Osipova. Those two are, to me, the quintessential Kitri and Basilio, and are unsurpassed thus far in terms of overall performance.

However, onto this performance, and it has highlights and, to a lesser extent, lowlights.

Firstly, Don Quixote is a ballet best performed by couples, or in the very least people with strong chemistry. In this DVD Olesya Novikova and Leonid Sarafanov have the chemistry one would hope (they are a real life couple), and they bring that element successfully to this performance. They are both technically superb and the occasional look they give each other is saturated with flirtatious emotion. I do feel that both dancers lack the fiery bravura approach though. Think of Baryshnikov, or indeed Osipova and Vasiliev as mentioned before. However, that is generally to be expected from the Mariinsky, and the style they embody.

Other people who deserve a well deserved nod of approval are the wonderful Ekaterina Kondaurova (only as a street dancer; one I would have loved to have seen more of!), Andrei Merkuriev (Espada) and Olga Esina. Also a very young Alina Somova as the Queen of Dryads. Not to everyone's taste, especially as she was younger here, but to me she is perfect in this small role. Alongside the professionals, the young Vaganova students are also exceptional.

The other shining star to me is Evgenia Obraztsova as Cupid. I have never seen a more perfectly danced variation. Her interpretation is spot on. Sadly it is only a small part! I would have loved to have seen more of her.

The one thing lacking on this DVD (besides the bravura brought by other stars) is the tempo of music. Many have noted that sections have been slowed down to snail paces. This is somewhat annoying at times, but doesn't detract from the overall performance. I can only wonder why the tempo was slowed down though...

On the technical DVD side, the quality of the picture and filming are both excellent. As is the sound quality.

To recap: a good overall performance, but not perfect. I would recommend it nonetheless.
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on 13 April 2014
Don Quixote has a long performance history on the Mariinsky stage. I believe it was as early as 1808, that the slightly autistic Don first set foot on the Mariinsky stage (he was then given his steps by balletmaster Titus) - long before the genial Marius Petipa restaged his Moscow 1869 for St. Petersburg, two years later. Thirty years on, history repeated itself, when in 1902, Petipa's student and ex-Mariinsky soloist Alexander Gorsky was invited to set his Moscow production on the Mariinsky Imperial Ballet. Gorsky appears to have blended 'realistic elements' with plagiarism, as he had copied parts of Petipa's choreography - which he knew well. Views on his production highly antagonized. The audience's applauding part may have been the modernist intellectual clique that came to attend the premiere from Moscow. However, the criticism didn't just come from traditionalists (who rightly saw the production as a stab in Petipa's back - the directorate wanted to abolish the old master), but also from the `Diaghilev corner,' by the likes of Alexander Benois who deemed Gorsky's production 'a mess, typical of amateur performances.'
But the Gorsky Don holds rep to this day. Sadly, since Don Q wasn't notated along with other ballets of the period (Sergeyev Collection, Harvard), ours will never be more than scant information on what belongs to Petipa or to Gorsky (exempted is the Dryad Queen, for we know she was called into existence by Gorsky). During the ballet's Soviet days cuts were made, new dances put in, and not only in the Mariinsky/Kirov production. So, A D 2014 every version is a Spanish flavoured ballet with many a loose thread, a theatrically inconsistent hotchpotch. The Mariinsky's 2006 recording reflects that fact. The first scene, in the Don's house, has been cut since I don't know when with the Mariinsky. Hence, to provide the storyline with some backbone and Quixote with a timely entrance in his own ballet, the curtain opens during the ouverture, exposing the Don reading a book. He apparently gets a queeste-provoking clue from it and struts off stage, followed by the faithful Sancho. I have great respect for the artist that Vladimir Ponomarev is, but his Don is too distant, too saint-like, the tragi-comical aspect is completely ignored in his interpretation. This approach to the role is traditional at the Mariinsky. The farcical Sancho relishes in antics.
Good thing: Somehow the spirit of the ballet's character numbers cannot be rooted out, and dances such as the Sequidilla of act I looks as happy and stylish as ever. While the costumes of the ladies here have been shorter for years, they are now back to original length as designed by Konstantin Korovin in 1902, as are the tutus of the Dryad ballet girls. Olesia Novikova's act I costume departs from that trend, exposing the knee, which has never been the case for that type of skirt and is detrimental to the line of Novikova's legs. For her 2nd entrance (OMG, how slow!) she changed into a more becoming red and black costume. The beautiful Yekaterina Kondaurova has reversed another trend; her hairpiece is the longest I have seen from any other dancer embodying the Street Dancer, as if she stepped through time from the 1930's.
Leading dancers Olesia Novikova and Leonid Sarafanov (pushed by their coaches) overindulge in debatable choices: varying from their own choreographic party tricks to excessively slow tempi where they should be quick, and vice versa. It's hard for me to find virtue in Novikova's dancing. As Kitri, she has her moments of acting (e g her funny reaction to Gamache), and she is good at speedy movement - which has the additional attraction that her lack of line, projection and port de bras don't disturb too much. Her running and walking, a primary requirement in a dancer, is styled 'Balanchine goes Broadway.' Unfortunately a habit many a ballet girl picks up these days. Sarafanov's admirable virtuoso technique seems stylistically out of place for Basilio, he can't give his steps weight. Dryad Queen Alina Somova has six o'clock lines much commented upon and I am no fan either, but she does possess pleasant danceable qualities. In line with adding to the odd performance history of Don Q, the extra last act variation given here is the variation Riccardo Drigo wrote in the 1880's (for Anna Johanson's performance in 'The Naiad and the Fisherman'). Dancer Olga Esina falls into the trap of trying to hold positions longer than the music requires. The classical dances are too pure - read stylistically so bland it borders on caricature. Many of them girls seem just legs and arms (placed too high) without a core. The award of the enterprise is for the Mariinsky orchestra; they are on the mark as ever.
The camera direction is full of annoying errors, often concentrating on a dancer not executing a step at the time - or even the wrong parts of a dancer (we see a good many pirouetting upper bodies). No, to me this Don Q is yet another example of the Mariinsky Ballet's decline in style and performance direction. A pleasant alternative is to be found in the Kirov's recording of the mid 1980's - same production, but with a dream cast led by the awesomely strong Tatiana Terekhova as Kitri, the flamboyant Farukh Ruzimatov as Basilio, the charismatic Altynai Asylmuratova as Street Dancer, Dimitri Korneyev as Espada and Elena Pankova as one of the Flower Girls. Undoubtedly some DVD's of this recording remained on a shelf somewhere, and I would recommend to go for it, or ... for the fresh and interesting production of Alexei Ratmansky for the Dutch National Ballet (2010), also available on blu-ray. The recent Don Quixote for the Royal Ballet is yet another story.
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