Don Quixote, with Nuñez and Acosta, Royal Ballet, ROH, Covent Garden, November 2014

What joy to see Carlos Acosta and Marianela Nuñez in a beautifully rehearsed first cast for this year’s revival of Acosta’s new Don Q. Gone was the tension of the Gala opening last year, and from their first appearance in Act I he made a superb young Basilio, with Nuñez on fire as his beloved Kitri.

Nuñez and Acosta before sunset in Act II, all images ROH/ Johan Persson

Nuñez and Acosta before the sun sets in Act II, all images ROH/ Johan Persson

Martin Yates, who arranged and orchestrated Minkus’s music for this production, conducted with great sensitivity to the dancers, and helped bring out the magic of this feel-good ballet. The only production alteration I noticed was the absence of the Don’s double in the dream scene of Act II, but once again I loved the funny choreography for the town houses in Act I just before the Don enters the market square on his glorious mechanical horse, which later provides a lovely ending to the ballet when it takes him off into the world beyond. I also loved the perfect timing for the setting sun in Act II with the gypsies appearing the moment it dips below the horizon, and the lighting and colours in that scene are fabulous.

Hirano as the Matador

Hirano as the Matador

For this first night of the present run, Christopher Saunders reprised his noble old Don, Bennet Gartside his delightfully foppish nobleman Gamache, and Gary Avis was wonderfully alive and robust as Lorenzo the innkeeper and father of Kitri. Among the soloists, Ryoichi Hirano was superb as the famous matador, Yuhui Choe perfection as queen of the dryads, and Kristen McNally and Thomas Whitehead sparkled as the main gypsy couple.

Nuñez in the dream scene

Nuñez in the dream scene

But mainly this was a huge triumph for Acosta and his excellent production, and for Marianela Nuñez who showed beautiful finesse and engaging naughtiness as Kitri. Whatever this versatile dancer touches she turns to gold, marking her as the Company’s prima ballerina assoluta.

Performances with various casts continue until January 22 — for details click here.

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