Libretto by Marius Petipa after the novel of the same name by Miguel de Cervantes
Music: Ludwig Minkus
Choreography: Marius Petipa, Alexander Gorsky
New choreographic version: Serge Manget
Don Quixote, having read his fill of romances about knights and chivalry, decides to set off on his travels in order to achieve great feats, which willbring glory to his name. As his sword-bearer, he chooses the loyal Sancho Panza, a man of sober outlook who is not prone to dreams.
In Barcelona there is festive animation in the air. Kitri, daughter of the innkeeper, is flirting with Basilio, the barber, who is in love with her.Finding them together Lorenzo, Kitri’s father, chases Basilio away: the barber is no fit match for his daughter. Lorenzo intends Kitri to marry Gamache, a rich nobleman. Kitri refuses outright tosubmit to her father’s will.
At the height of the merry-making, Don Quixote appears in the square, accompanied by his sword bearer, Sancho Panza. Catching sight of the innkeeper, Don Quixote mistakes him for the owner of aknight’s castle and greets him with respect. Lorenzo responds in like terms and invites Don Quixote into the inn. Sancho Panza is left in the square. But when some young people start to mock Sancho,Don Quixote immediately hurries to his sword-bearer’s rescue.
Seeing Kitri, Don Quixote thinks she is the beautiful Dulcinea whom he has seen in his dreams and chosen as ‘the lady of his heart’. But Kitri disappears. She has run off with Basilio. Lorenzo,Gamache and Don Quixote set out to look for her.
Kitri and Basilio are hiding in a tavern. Here they are found by Lorenzo, Gamache and Don Quixote. Lorenzowishes to make an immediate announcement of the betrothal of Kitri and Gamache. But Basilio, by agreement with Kitri, pretends to take his life. Kitri sobs over the body of her sweetheart. DonQuixote overcоme by noble indignation accuses Lorenzo of hardheartedness and, threatening him with his sword forces him to agree to his daughter’s marriage with the barber Basilio jumps to his feet.There is no point in him pretending to be dead am longer.
In the glade by the windmills is a sprawling gipsy encampment. Here too is a puppet theatre. Don Quixote and Sancho soon appear on the scene. The ownerof the puppet theatre invites Don Quixote to watch a show. Don Quixote follows the performance with rapt attention and, forgetting it is theatre, rushes on to the stage, sword in hand, to defendthose who need his protection. He breaks down the stage, sends the puppets flying and, catching sight of the windmills, mistakes them for evil magicians whom he has to get the better of. Grabbing amill sail, he is first lifted into the air and then falls to the ground.
The wounded Don Quixote and Sancho Panza find themselves in a forest. To Don Quixote, the forest seems to be full of monsters and giants. Sancho Panzasettles Don Quixote down to sleep, while he runs off for help. In his dreams, Don Quixote sees Dulcinea, ‘the lady of his heart’, surrounded by Dryads and fairies Sancho Panza comes back with theDuke and Duchess who have been hunting in the forest. He begs them to help the dreaming Don Quixote. The Duke and Duchess invite the wandering knight to visit them m their castle.
The Duke’s castle. All is ready for the reception of Don Quixote.
Having heard from Sancho Panza the happy story of Kitri and Basilio’s love, the Duke and Duchess have kindly agreed to allow them to hold their wedding in the castle. Don Quixote and Sancho Panza areinvited to occupy the seats of honor. A solemn procession files past. Catching sight of Kitri, Don Quixote again mistakes her for ‘the lady of his reveries’. But the Duke and Sancho Panza manage topersuade him that she is the very same innkeeper’s daughter whom he helped to unite with Basilio, her sweetheart.
The festivities continue. All thank the valiant knight and his faithful sword-bearer.
Music by L. Minkus was written for the ballet «don Quixote» in Moscow’s Bolshoi theater ballet master Marius Petipa. The first performance took place on 14 December 1869 at the Bolshoi theatre.
In the novel of Cervantes image of sad knight don Quixote, ready for any exploits and noble deeds, is the basis of the plot. In the ballet don Quixote is a secondary character, and the plot focuses on the love story of Kitri and Basil performing their own variations on the town square. Experienced Kapellmeister Ludwig Minkus was an excellent connoisseur of ballet art, he was recognized as a ballet composer. His sparkling, like champagne, the music was pleasing to the ear and forced to dance. Petipa picked up such a mood, materializata this cheerfulness in many Spanish and Gypsy (La gitane,Gitano) dancing, authentic names of which — chic, Morena and zingara. In classical ballet it was their styling, dancing boleros and the dance of Espada is «hispanity» and not the Spanish dances.