Carlos Acosta’s revived 2013 ballet is a thing of joy that’s got better with age
Carlos Acosta’s production of ‘Don Quixote’ for the Royal Ballet seemed a somewhat awkward fit when it premiered in 2013. This is a ballet of OTT slapstick humour and exuberant passions, its gossamer-thin storyline merely a vehicle for showstopping party pieces from the principals, and the RB dancers seemed to struggle to find their feet in it.
It’s a pleasant surprise, then, to find how well it has bedded in – even without Acosta’s megawatt presence on stage. There’s a real sense of fun, and not just from the comic duo of Quixote and Sancho Panza (Christopher Saunders and David Yudes), whose picaresque antics are the backdrop to the main focus of the ballet, the love story of Kitri and Basilio.
Marianela Nuñez and Vadim Muntagirov don’t have a partnership that produces passionate sparks, but both dancers have such dazzling technique and utter confidence in each other that they are a sheer joy to watch – and on opening night drew audible gasps of delight from the audience. By the dazzling final pas de deux the grinning pair seemed locked in an ecstatic game of ‘beat that!’, with each solo of firework finale moves upping the ante a touch more. They rightly received a standing ovation.
But there’s plenty for the rest of the company to get their teeth into in this warmly inclusive production. Ryoichi Hirano’s strutting matador is fabulously macho, and Laura Morera is perfect as the wildly gesticulating street dancer Mercedes. Itziar Mendizabal and Valentino Zucchetti throw themselves wholeheartedly into the gypsy couple roles, and do a fair job of mixing in Acosta’s addition of flamenco moves round the campfire. Tim Hatley’s set designs are cheerfully evocative, and the act two vision scene is a thing of beauty, with Fumi Kaneko and Anna Rose O’Sullivan offering characterful interpretations of the Queen of the Dryads and Amour. In all, it’s a perfect antidote to winter blues.