What a lively ballet! I saw the Bolshoi dance Don Quixote at Saratoga on Thursday (31 July) and it was a lot of fun. The first act especially was full of energy; I don't think I've ever seen a more exuberant act in any ballet.
The leads were Kristina Kretova as Kitri and Mikhail Lobukhin as Basilio. I can also supply the names of the other dancers, if anyone's interested, except for the Queen of the Dryads. That role had a last minute replacement announced over the PA just before the curtain rose, and I didn't catch the name. I think Kretova and Lobukhin were well cast for the roles, in that they both had the energy and playfulness necessary to sell the characters of flirtatious lovers. Where they were weak was in the more technical moves in the third act -- Lobukhin's jumps weren't very impressive and Kretova was a bit unsteady in her balance -- but that wasn't as important as it would have been in some other ballets.
Although Don Q's mostly about festive Spain, as envisioned by Russians, there's a scene in the second act where Quixote has a dream which is used as an excuse to insert an entirely different style of ballet into the middle of it. That worked, though; it was more refined and elegant form of joy, but surprisingly appropriate.
Although no single dancer stood out for me, the whole company did a good job. The Bolshoi obviously has a lot of depth. Chinara Alizade and Daria Khokhlova, as Juanita and Piccilia (or vice-versa) were especially delightful. (These were the "friends of the lead character" roles you often see in ballets who do occasional interludes and accompany the leads.) I also really enjoyed the fan and tambourine dance the corps did in the first act.
There were several comic roles in the ballet. Denis Medvedev stood out as Gamache, the foppish nobleman.
Although I gave myself extra time to get there, I ended up arriving after the scheduled start, although thankfully before the actual start. This was because heavy traffic meant that it took a half hour to drive the final mile and a half to the theater. So be forewarned if you ever go to Saratoga.
There was a full house, very appreciative. They even gave the orchestra a standing ovation just before the start of Act 3.
Having seen the Bolshoi on DVD and in the movies I've come to expect excellent costumes and sets. The costumes were up to expectations. I especially loved the dryads'. The sets, however, were a disappointment. I know that a touring show can't be expected to have as good sets as a house production, but these were just lame, especially in Act 3.
On the whole, though, this was a very enjoyable experience. Not a lot of passion, or transcendence, but a lot of fun.