Don Quixote

(QPAC Playhouse)


The magnificent madness of Don Quixote speaks to the crazy romantic in us all. At a time when public discourse is so formulaic it is refreshing to join the errant knight in his quest to help people in need.

This Queensland Ballet production takes us in and out of the mind of this funny old man who dares to dream.

Artistic director and choreographer Francois Klaus, uses the device of a film set where the ballet “Don Quixote” is being filmed. The dancer playing the title role (Blair Wood) falls asleep after the day’s work and dreams of his own Dulcinea (danced finely by Lisa Edwards). Blair Wood dances a passionate and evocative lead role, ably assisted by Keian Langdon as Sancho Panza. Langdon plays this comedic role subtly, eliciting comic relief but never ridicule. Langdon as Sancho Panza displays loyalty towards his master despite his incomprehension of his master’s ways.

A radical choice of music takes the audience into the Quixotic dream and the concepts behind it. Dvorak’s “New World” Symphony is used to great effect in Act 1. In a sublime sequence, the female dancers of the corps de ballet become Demoiselles transported by the largo second movement of Dvorak’s symphony. Your hard-bitten reviewer was moved to the brink of tears by the womanly beauty of this dream-like piece. It somehow expresses the noble quest of this addlepated knight.

The role of Kitri is danced with virtuosity by Meng Ningning. She executes the famous 32 fouettes en tournant to the enthusiastic delight of the audience.

Rachael Walsh gives a richly textured performance as the peasant woman angered, bemused then moved by Don Quixote’s mistaking her for Dulcinea.

The second act flits through scenes of the film set, Don Quixote’s dream, a nightclub and the street. Sadly, it loses its way like Coleridge’s interrupted dream in “Kubla Khan”. The second half does not recapture the magic of the initial dream as the visionary rubs against the streetwise.

This thoughtful production remains however a beautiful glimpse into the value of a little psychosis in human affairs.

Choreography: Francois Klaus
Music by Ludwig Minkus, Johann Pachelbel, Anton Dvorak, Tomaso Albinoni, Astor Piazzolla and Isaac Albeniz
Performances: 19 May to 2 June 2012 Duration: 2 hours and 25 minutes (including a 20-minute interval)

— Matt Foley
(Performance seen: Thu 24th May 2012)