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The Belarusian State Academic Musical Theatre has chosen to stage Ludwig Minkus’ Don Quixote

Don Quixote in every theatre?

The Belarusian State Academic Musical Theatre has chosen to stage Ludwig Minkus’ Don Quixote. Why not?
By Natalia Stepanova

The Belarusian State Academic Musical Theatre has chosen to stage Ludwig Minkus’ Don Quixote. Why not? After all, it is a world ballet classic and it is honour for everyone to have such a staging. But the matter is that Don Quixote is already being performed in Minsk. At the Bolshoi Opera and Ballet Theatre it has been successfully performed for twenty five years. Do we need one more?


Scene from Don Quixote staged by the Bolshoi Opera and Ballet Theatre

It is also possible to widen the question. ‘Does the capital need two ballet theatres?’ Depending on whom you ask, the answers will be different. Art Director of the Belarusian State Academic Musical Theatre, the Honoured Worker of Culture of Belarus, Adam Murzich is laconic, “We have our own spectators.” It is, actually, the answer to the question, Why is it necessary to stage another Minkus. However, it is more correct to say: ‘Once again’. After all, Don Quixote has been in the theatre’s repertoire for twenty years. As a matter of fact, today’s situation has already happened in Belarusian theatrical history. And what was the end? Yelizariev won, and his staging is performed to this day in the Bolshoi Theatre.

National folklore knows many sayings about that. But Musical Theatre, apparently, decided that there is no harm in trying, and entrusted this business to the People’s Artiste of Belarus, Vladimir Ivanov. It is he who understands, to what business he got down. Once he danced Basilio in the Bolshoi Theatre. It is possible to say that he knows Yelizariev’s staging well, and assures that his staging will be different, shorter, and the main thing — better. Such a daring declaration from a ballet master who does not have even 10 productions on the stage of the Bolshoi Theatre. But after all, history knows many facts when even debutants staged brilliant performances. So, for now, let’s simply listen to Vladimir Ivanov.

“When I danced Don Quixote, I did not try to grasp many things, I simply did my work. Now I look with different eyes. Today’s most well-known staging is Alexander Gorsky’s version, with Marius Petipa’s choreography. But it appeared that a series of numbers by other composers were used in that version. By the way, the former production at the Musical Theatre was also Gorsky’s, but it was ‘cut’ to two acts, and included a lot of pantomime. We have tried to remove it in order to make the performance more active. The main thing we tried was, where it was possible, to remove the inserted numbers of other composers and used only the music of Minkus,” said Vladimir.

To be fair, Ivanov has actually done that, made that very bold push. He has staged a new version of the ballet. The first act is the author’s version of the ballet master, in the second, he admits, he included several of Gorsky’s numbers, which are considered masterpieces of the ballet world. Vladimir Vladimirovich’s version is very compact. Practically the whole performance is a dream of Don Quixote. It hardly could be another way. After all, the troupe of classical ballet of the Musical Theatre has never been famous for its considerable number of artistes. There were not many options for the leading roles: laureates of the international contest Mika Suzuki and Dmitry Lazovik is the only ballet pair at the theatre.

The personnel situation in this creative collective is difficult now. Someone gets promotion to the Bolshoi Theatre, someone, having flashed at an international competition, leaves to work abroad, while someone else leaves to work in other places. There are also ‘nuances’ in repertoire. But the theatre’s management, as it is accepted to say, does not sit idle. It searches and struggles and it is believed that it will not turn into a battle with the windmills, as with Don Quixote.

And how have the workers of the Bolshoi Theatre met the news about the new staging of the Musical Theatre? It is said that they are looking forward to it.
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