"Don Quichotte" took some time taking hold in the Colón repertoire, but in the last three decades it has been a frequent staple. As the illuminating programme notes of Enrique Honorio Destaville explain, there are two traditions: that of Marius Petipa and that of Alexander Gorsky. It was the latter that inspired Zarko Prebil, whose version was given with great success in 1980 with Vasiliev and Maximova and repeated innumerable times since then, at the Colón and elsewhere.
This year the Colón provides a choreography revised by Lidia Segni based on Petipa, more academic and with less humor and pantomime than Prebil´s; she cuts some fragments such as the one at the Tavern and adds some of her own, attempting more realism than Petipa.
The music by the Polish composer Leon Minkus has been much mailgned but it is good of its kind, especially in the Spanish-tinged scenes. The action of course takes the Don Quichotte subject as a mere reference, for in fact the whole thing is centered on the romance of Kitri and Basil. There are plenty of divertimento possibilities to upholster the thin plot.
The Colón has done a very handsome show for this season. Six performances with different casts, the sixth providing an ideal setting for the farewell of our great ballerina Silvina Perillo, with the curious feature of having three Basils, one per act: Alejandro Parente, Edgardo Trabalón and Federico Fernández. Stage designer Enrique Bordolini has a knack for beautiful pictures that give a feeling of splendor; probably this is his best ballet job and it provided splendid images as a frame for the dancers. No less attractive were the costumes by Eduardo Caldirola, and the lighting by Rubén Conde was always in character.
Javier Logioia Orbe has managed in recent seasons to demonstrate that as a conductor he understands the dancers´ needs whilst giving value and careful rehearsal to the music; the Orquesta Estable responded admirably.
I attended the Perillo farewell, and I found it moving as well as an object lesson of professionalism from all concerned but particularly from Perillo, leaving her career at 45 in full possession of her formidable technique and charming as ever in her favorite role. Although she would have preferred Prebil´s version (it allows more acting) she was completely at home in the Petipa/Segni, and was lovingly partnered by three of the best Colón dancers. At the ending there was apotheosis as she was showered with rose petals.
I´m happy that she was homaged as she deserves, for Perillo is an outspoken lady and when things went very wrong in the relationship of the Ballet with both Segni (as Directress of the Ballet) and García Caffi (as General Director), she was the one that led a famous press conference explaining the legitimate complaints of the dancers.
Martín Miranda (Don Quichotte) and particularly Marcelo Antelo (Sancho Panza) were very adequate. There were first-rate contributions from Maricel De Mitri (Streetwalker), Vagram Ambartsoumian (Torero and Gypsy), Graciela Bertotti (Gypsy girl), Silvina Vaccarelli (Cupid), Gabriela Alberti (Queen of the Dryads), Igor Gopkalo (Camacho) and others who solved very well their variations. And the abundant Corps de Ballet was in fine form.
In the Segni tenure each year the Colón offers an International Gala, but the guests only dance in the First Part; the Second is occupied by our local Ballet; I don´t agree: the gala should occupy the whole night. That Second Part was occupied with "Tango", again Segni as choreographer, this time on music by Piazzolla and with the tango dancing style assisted by Julián Galván. It worked well in its blend of steps from academic and tango dance and provided material for the brilliant execution of our artists.
Three selections were of time-honored pieces: the "Pas de deux" from "The Sleeping Beauty" (Tchaikovsky-Petipa), beautifully done by soloists of the Bolshoi, Anna Nikulina and Semyon Chudin; the "Pas de deux " from "Don Quichotte" (Minkus-Petipa), correctly executed by Ana Sophia Scheller (N.Y.City Ballet) and Davit Karapetyan (San Francisco Ballet); and the "Black Swan Pas de deux" from "Swan Lake" (Tchaikovsky-Petipa), again danced with magisterial command by Nikulina and Chudin. Glazunov´s "Raymonda" is a fine ballet less seen; its "Pas de deux" was presented with wonderful precision by Tamara Rojo and Fernando Bufala (English National Ballet) on a fine choreography by Loipa Araujo.
"Jewels" is a three-part ballet by Balanchine; from it we saw the "Pas de deux" from "Rubies", on Stravinsky´s Capriccio for piano and orchestra. As usual, Balanchine renovates academic steps. It was well danced by Scheller and Karapetyan. The most interesting things were two "pas de deux" by choreographer Alonzo King, with dancers from his Alonzo King Lines Ballet: Meredith Webster and the African-American Keelan Whitmore: the first, "Migration", music by Leslie Stuck, a slow melodic line for strings; the second, "Sposa son disprezzata", from "Constellation", a lament by Vivaldi sung with fine taste by Maya Layhani but piano-accompanied. In both cases, the expressive artists with splendid bodies interlaced attitudes of modern dancing in almost constant contact.
The final selection was a well-choreographed experiment by Frederick Ashton: five Brahms waltzes danced in the style of that famous individualist of modern dance, Isadora Duncan. Nicely played on stage by Iván Rutkauskas, it allowed Tamara Rojo to show her versatility in flowing robes.
For Buenos Aires Herald