Emerging Cinemas' HD service is not as seamless as the Met's. We were sitting fairly close to the screen and I could see raster scan lines, and there were a couple of momentary picture glitches. Nevertheless, it was still a very good picture, as though on were sitting on stage, and gave us a clear view of why the Bolshoi remains the standard of the world in Ballet.
"Don Quixote" has a special place in the history of the Bolshoi, having been created for that group by choreographer Marius Petipa, so they tend to pull out all the stops on casting, costuming, and sets. Danced to a luscious score by Ludwig Minkus (an underrated composer, in our opinion), the small dollops of Cervantes' novel that make it onto the stage serve as a framework from which to hang lots and lots of Spanish-themed dance.
The Bolshoi did a full version of the ballet, which, as the announcer promised, preserved the "good parts" of the Petipa choreography, with new parts by Alexei Fadeyechev. The real starring roles are those of the innkeeper's daughter, Kitri, (danced by Natalia Osipova) and her swain Basilio (Ivan Vasiliev). Both this dancers have marvelous stage presence and acting ability--particularly Osipova whose big eyes and big smile in her gamine face project wonderfully. In addition, they are among the most amazing dancers we have ever seen; speed, power, precison, grace--they had it all and more. They were supported by principals in the roles of peasants, flamenco dancers, toreadors, gypsies, and fairies, any one of which could have easily been a star dancer in any other company. We were pretty sure that most of the new choreography went into the first act where there is a lot of absolutely bravura dance that neither of us thought could have been done in Petipa's day.
All in all, just marvelous to see. If you are curious about ballet at all, I would recommend seeking out future Bolshoi shows: they are showing "Coppelia" Aug. 28, and "Swan Lake" Sept. 18th. You will see what ballet is all about.
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