The audience for the Bolshoi Ballet performances sent by satellite to Stratford Picturehouse is just a little different from the one that goes to the Justin Bieber biopic. Serious lovers of high culture come to opera and ballet. They don’t crunch popcorn. They pay attention. They don’t text message during the show.
All in all, they are delightful. These special events allow older people to reclaim the cinema seats, albeit briefly.
What a treat the Bolshoi’s “Don Quixote” is. You could argue that the costumes and sets are a little traditional, but who cares? They are absolutely beautiful and designed and made by masters of craftsmanship.
The stars of this are breathtaking dancers. Alexei Loparevich (Don Quixote) and Alexander Petukhov (Sancho Panza) form a tremendously humourous and alive pairing and do their scenes, together or separately, for maximum effect.
In the dual role of Kitri/Dulcinea, Natalia Osipova brings great heart and technical wizardry to her moves. I gasped, many times. She is more than matched by Ivan Vasiliev as Basilio. I was reminded of the great performances of Baryshnikov. Their dances together and their solo pieces are gorgeous.
Traditional ballet and flamenco moves create new forms in this ballet. The inevitable windmills did not seem intrusive and the big palace and town square crowd scenes had amazing style.
Okay, this is the Bolshoi and you probably guessed you won’t get anything too wacky. For me, there is great reassurance in a traditional piece done to perfection and this was a brilliant show. I didn’t look at my watch once, in three hours.
The satellite failed once or twice and there were cross murmurs from the audience. But these small issues were resolved within seconds. These were annoying seconds, but they passed quickly and were confined to the first act.
I used to think there was little point in seeing opera or ballet at the cinema. I have changed my mind. What you get here is an excellent view of every nuance of the performance. In the “real” venue, that would cost an awful lot of money.
This ballet was created for the Bolshoi in 1869 and Ludwig Mincus’ music is lovely. Choreography by Marius Petipa and Alexander Gorsky has been adapted by Alexei Fadeyechev and has the best of traditional and modern moves, with some stunning set pieces. The Bolshoi Theatre and CielEcran brought this to selected cinemas around the world. It’s a great way of bringing the best of high culture to a new and wider audience.