Don Quixote Finale for 2012 San Francisco Ballet’s 2012 Season

30 Apr

From the matadors’ tights to the popsicle-hued dresses on the women’s knee- length dresses, Martin Pakledinaz stepped up the cheerful revival of the Tomasson-Possokhov version of the Petipa-Gorsky romp, loosely based on Cervantes’ Spanish novel, Don Quixote. This ballet version, premiering in 2003, received its new production premiere April 27 as SFB’s finale for the 2012 season.  The audience loved every bravura second of it; from the looks of it, so did the company and conductor Martin West.

Well they might.  Jim Sohm made an auspicious debut as the befuddled Don with Pascal Molat reprising his magnificent reading of Sancho Panza, ever ready to ogle and fondle senoritas, purloin sausage and filch ham.  Right from the beginning Sohm’s eyes conveyed the Don’s slender grasp of earthy reality, holding his imbalance of gallantry and fantasy throughout.

Where the Royal Danish production was soft-hued distinction, Pakledinaz selected a strong emphasis on sun-baked, semi-psychedelic colors, primarily for the toreadors, finishing  with the traditional black squashed-like hat. Black braid generously attached  provided the dash necessary to convey these Hispanic cultural peacocks..

Pierre-Francois Vilanoba led the pack; flanked by a condor-eyed Sarah Van Patten as Mercedes; he gave us an elegant matador,  perhaps influenced by his Galician surname. The pair kept the tension alive with  brief sideline forays.

Gamache, the well-heeled, aging fop Kitri’s father wanted to see married to his daughter, introduced Myles Thatcher to the role, his hobbling interpretation in lavender-toned satins and plumes a nod to Damian Smith’s 2003-2004 over-the-top movement.  Ricardo Bustamonte  conveyed the sharp-eyed tavern keeper father with Anita Paciotti as a mother pre-occupied with tending and tidying up the situation.  And there was that smart, swift moment when Kitri dehatted and dewigged her senior suitor.

Casting Vanessa Zahorian with Joan Boada as Kitri and Basilio initially seemed  anomalous, but any question was rapidly dispelled. Despite a slight imbalance  at Act One’s ending,  Boada was suitably clean, precise,  his elevation reminding us of  phenomenal bravura capacities.

Except for traveling double fouettes in the wedding pas de deux, Zahorian was spot on throughout, balances firm and just long enough to register to the eye if not to linger, her port de bras appropriate, height and thrust of her developpes notable. Her excellence is achieved by a no-nonsense technical approach rendered impressive by her musical phrasing.

The Dryad scene allowed the presence of San Francisco Ballet School students as did  the brief pantomime in the Gypsy camp where Don Quixote tilted with the windmill and Hansuke Yamamoto danced nimbly as the Gypsy chief. Sofiane Sylve and Clara Blanco graced the Dryad scene, Sylve the definitive queen with her deliberate attack, Blanco as Cupid darting nimbly across the boards with her impeccable port de bras.

Added to this production was a 26 year old white horse for Don Quixote and a donkey for Sancho Panza, later utilized for Gamache.  When Gamache dismounted on the left side of his borrowed animal, it made visual the double entendre.

What was not to revel in?

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