Storm Eunice may have been wreaking havoc outside, but at the Birmingham Hippodrome it was all about the warm Spanish sunshine, as the Birmingham Royal Ballet’s intoxicating Don Quixote had its opening night. Carlos Acosta’s wonderful reworking of the classic ballet combines wit and passion, stirring music and the most wonderful, Flamenco inspired dance to create a masterpiece of entertainment that had the audience on their feet for a standing ovation at its end.
Don Quixote is a simple sole who lives in a world of make believe. He believes himself to be medieval knight on a quest to serve the bridelike Lady Dulcinea, and sets off, with a fruit bowl on his head as his helmet, riding on a horse his faithful servant Sancho Panza (a super funny performance by Kit Holder) has created from a barrel. On reaching the village they encounter the beautiful Kitri, a vision in a red dress, in love with a poor barber Basilio, but thwarted by her father, who wants her to marry a nobleman. When Kitra and Basilio run away together, Don Quixote and Sancho Panza follow them, and their adventure continues in the gorgeous red sunset of Gypsy Country.
The beauty of Don Quixote is in the vibrancy and colour of the ensemble dances. The village scene is a stunning mix of matadors and romance, with Brandon Lawrence in particular a standout as the famous matador Espada, proud and bombastic in his dances with the feisty Mercedes (Yu Kurihara). The foppish nobleman Gamache, in love with Kitri, is very funny in his affections, with Rory Mackay bringing life to the role.
As the young lovers Kitri and Basilio, Momoko Hirata and Mathias Dingman are just wonderful, their dances full of romance and passion, they just sparr off each other beautifully, not least in their repeated pirouettes during the wedding scene. Don Quixote is also a wonderful characterisation, Tom Rogers gives him the look of never quite knowing what is going on around him, but he is just lovely in the dreamlike sequence in the magic garden.
For me, the most wonderful sequence is act 2, a scenario dominated first by the red sunset of the Spanish evening, in the sensuous, passionate scene with the gypsises, and then transferred to the white innocence and sparkle of the Spanish garden. These scenes are truly beautiful, they linger in your mind long after you leave the theatre.
Don Quixote is as warm and vibrant as a Spanish Summer, and as passionate as a Spanish Lover.
From Saturday 19th February until 19th March 2022
For ticket information click here.