Don Quixote is one of Marius Petipa's much-loved 19th-century classics - its story is drawn from Miguel de Cervantes's classic novel and set to Ludwig Minkus's score. The ballet has long been acclaimed for its virtuoso dancing, beautiful and technically demanding 'vision scene' and the famously bravura and breath-taking Act III pas de deux.
Libretto: Marius Petipa based on the novel by Miguel de Cervantes
Johan Kobborg, the world-class ballet star who has also earned a reputation for himself as a choreographer at the world's major ballet venues, has completed his work at the Leonid Yacobson Ballet Theatre to stage the premiere of his own take on the Don Quixote ballet, set to music by Ludwig Minkus.
This show is the first ballet production in a series of anniversary events dedicated to the Year of Marius Petipa in Russia. Those who attended the premiere gave well-deserved praise to this dynamic and vibrant performance, drenched in blazing light of the Spanish sun, which shines upon a whirlwind of profound passion. A roller-coaster of a plot and a cast of spitfire characters are brought to life by expressive choreography and a gorgeous set design, courtesy of the world-class genius Jérôme Kaplan. The show also offers a refreshing approach to the classics, which it owes to its producer, Johan Kobborg, an ardent lover of Russian ballet, who is well-known as both a choreographer and a brilliant danseur to audiences of both the Bolshoi and Mariinsky Theatre. After this premiere, the great master's reputation as a paragon of male dance performances will very likely get augmented by worldwide fame as an attentive interpreter of the cultural heritage left by Marius Ivanovich Petipa, known as 'the Russian Frenchman'. This has been Johan Kobborg's first time staging a ballet in St. Petersburg, and first collaboration with the Leonid Yacobson Ballet Theatre.
Johan Kobborg: 'When Andrian Fadeev, art director of the Leonid Yacobson Ballet Theatre, offered me to stage Don Quixote, I did not have a shadow of a doubt that our work together would be interesting and fruitful. There were many factors at play at the same time. I have known Andrian for many years, and I respect him as a brilliant dancer. And now I can put trust in his professionalism in his new capacity as a ballet company manager. As luck would have it, both of us had enough free time to work on this project. For more than 10 years now, I have been just as enthusiastic about working as a choreographer as about performing. I love not only making new shows, but also looking for fresh interpretations of famous ballets. To keep the ballet art alive, you have to practice looking at ballet classics from a new angle, and to be closer to the public. I used to work at a classical ballet troupe, so I respect the academic style and have no wish to undermine it. But the world is changing, and this demands new approaches to traditional productions'.
Johan Kobborg is widely known to ballet lovers as an international celebrity. Alumnus of the Royal Danish Ballet School, he used to dance as a principal at the Danish Royal Ballet and at the London Royal Ballet, Covent Garden. He also appeared as a guest star in productions at the La Scala Theatre in Milan, the Mariinsky and Bolshoi Theatres, and many other renowned theatres worldwide.
More than a decade ago, Johan Kobborg embarked on a new path as a choreographer: in October 2005, the Royal Ballet in London opened a new season with his edition of the La Sylphide by August Bournonville; shortly thereafter, Kobborg went on to produce a number of shows for other ballet theatres. In the 2007/08 season, his version of La Sylphide entered the Bolshoi Theatre's repertoire as well.
This was Johan Kobborg's first time staging a ballet in St. Petersburg, and first collaboration with the Leonid Yacobson Ballet Theatre. The choreographer has already gone though all rehearsals.
The scenery for the premiere has been provided by Jérôme Kaplan, a renowned French set designer with Russian roots; the Russian public may already be familiar with his contribution to the Illusions Perdues ballet at the Bolshoi Theatre (music by Leonid Desyatnikov), which he worked on in tandem with the choreographer Aleksey Ratmansky. The show's production crew also included Vincent Millet, a lighting designer who previously collaborated with Kaplan at the Bolshoi Theatre.
The premiere of the Don Quixote ballet was scheduled to celebrate the 200th birth anniversary of Marius Petipa and took place at the Tovstonogov Bolshoi Drama Theatre on December 14, 2017, and at the Alexandrinsky Theatre on December 19, 2017.
The performance was accompanied by the Saint-Petersburg State Academic Symphony Orchestra, conducted by Maestro Anatoly Rybalko.