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234th Season

Main Stage

20 August
2021 | Friday
Tours of Leonid Yacobson Ballet Theatre Stars of the Stars
Don Quixote
Ballet in 3 acts
Artists Credits
Music by Ludwig Minkus
Vincent Millet, Lighting Designer
Jérôme Kaplan, Set Designer

The performance has 2 intermissions
Running time: 2 hours 30 minutes

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.


Don Quixote is absorbed in reading books of chivalry. Fictitious happenings become more real to him than anything else in the world. His day-dreaming is interrupted by Sancho Panza, a fat man, pursued by peasant women for pilfering.Don Quixote stands up for him and the grateful Sancho becomes his squire.


Scene 1
A square in Barcelona. Festive animation reigns at Lorenzo’s inn. Kitri, the innkeeper’s daughter is coquetting with the barber Basil, who is in love with her. Kitri’s father sees them and drives Basil away. He wants Kitri to get married to a wealthy hidalgo. But Kitri stubbornly refuses to yield to her father’s will. Toreadors headed by famous Espada stalk along the square. They start a dance imitating a corrida. A street dancer, who is in love with Espada dances among daggers and enraptures everybody. Suddenly the crowd parts: Sancho Panza gives blasts on his horn heralding that the knight-errant Don Quixote is coming. Lorenzo courteously invites a queer-looking visitor in his inn. Sancho stays in the square where burgers start mocking at him. Don Quixote hurries to rescue his squire. Dances are resumed. Enamored Basil and Kitri are together again. On seeing Kitri, Don Quixote takes her for his lady-love. He kneels down in front of the innkeeper’s daughter...


Scene 2
Kitri and Basil are alone in the meadow at the windmills. There is a gypsy encampment nearby. Don Quixote and his loyal squire Sancho Panza come here. Gipsies invite everybody to see a marionette performance. Marionettes play a comedy in which a knight leaves home to perform his deeds of chivalry, whereas his wife is kidnapped by a cruel Moor. Don Quixote stands up for the offended wishing to restore fairness.
Everybody flees in horror, the theatre crashes down. Don Quixote catches sight of long arms of the giants-the windmills. Sancho tries to persuade the knight-errant that it is not a giant but a windmill. But Don Quixote attacks the imagianary giant and a sail-arm ifts him in the air.Don Quixote loses his grip and falls down unconscious. Monsters and phantoms surround the knight-errant.

Scene 3
Visions arise in the mind of the wounded knight-it seems to him that he is in a beautiful forest among the ruins of an ancient castle in the realm of driads. Here Cupid wounds his heart with his arrow and Don Quixote’s love for his love-lady becomes eternal. But it’s only a dream. Sancho brings his master to reality. Gamash and Lorenzo come looking for escaping lovers - Kitri and Basil. Don Quixote puts them on the wrong track, but a simple-minded Sancho "corrects" his mistake and pursuit goes on.

Scene 4
The participants of the festivity come here. At the peak of the festivity Kitri and Basil run here: happy to hide from pursuers. Toreadors and Espada come here too, and the beautiful Mercedes devotes her temperamental dance to her Espada. The innkeeper is worried. Gamash and Lorenzo come. Friends try to hide Kitri but in vain. Lorenzo joins Kitri’s and Gamash’s hands against his daughter’s will and blesses them. Basil elbows his way through the crowd. He is in despair. The only way out for him is death.Kitri begs her father to bless their love: Basil will die all the same. Lorenzo hesitates.Don Quixote orders him to yield to Kitri’s wish. Unwillingly Lorenzo blesses Kitri’s and Basil. Basil gets up-his suicide was a prank. Friends push Gamash out of the inn. Festivity, dances go on.


Scene 5
Everything is ready for the celebration in the square of Barcelona in the honour of Kitri and Basil.Among guests are knight-errant Don Quixote and his squire Sancho Panza.An unknown knight appears and accuses Don Quixote of humiliated dignity. He challenges Don Quixote to a duel. Don Quixote wins and everybody recognizes Gamash in the unknown knight. The festivity starts. Don Quixote and Sancho bid farewell and set off to seek new adventures.

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