Based on Miguel de Cervantes’ mock-chivalric romance about a crazy old man who believes himself to be a heroic knight-errant, and offering a flamboyant fiesta of vibrant Spanish color and classical Russian dance, Don Quixote was originally created by the master choreographer Marius Petipa, together with the composer Ludwig Minkus, for the Imperial Bolshoi Ballet in Moscow in 1869.
Almost a century later, in 1966, five years after fleeing to the West, the legendary Russian dancer Rudolf Nureyev created a new version for the Wiener Staatsballett.
Don Quixote is here seen in the revised version by Nureyev which the French choreographer Manuel Legris – once a noted Basil himself in his days as an “étoile” in Nureyev’s Paris troupe – devised for the Wiener Staatsballett, next to the other two Nureyev’s originals Swan Lake and The Nutcracker during his first season as its new director. Denys Cherevychko plays the penniless young barber Basil, whose ultimately successful attempt to marry Kitri, the rich innkeeper’s beautiful daughter, provides a background to the comical adventures of the delusional Don Quixote, memorably his famous attack on a windmill which he believes to be a giant.
“A Don Quixote to love … Legris and company can count the evening a total success” (Die Presse); “the Staatsballett carried it off with huge élan and theatrical talent” (Kleine Zeitung); “a must-see for all our ballet fans” (Kronen Zeitung). As for the two principals, Maria Yakovleva and Denys Cherevychko as Kitri and Basil, no praise was high enough: “both are technically brilliant” (Wiener Zeitung); “they dance, leap, balance, spin and act in sparkling style all evening, displaying their technical bravura right through to the great wedding pas de deux” (Kurier); “one didn’t want the dream to end” (Merker Online).