First, we insert a link to the rousing Part 1 (Prologue and Act 1). Next, we rinse and repeat the cast lists, plot and the youtube link to the music, for convenience.
First intermission is over 🙂
As you buckle yourself in and sit tight for Act 2, the Metropolitan Festival Orchestra begins with a stirring interlude (54:27 — Molino) and the screen depicts Don Q and Sancho approaching the windmills. The music is striking, lively and has grown even louder — it makes the heart sing — but there are strangely moving undertones from the wind instruments (I think – listen to the layers that repeat until they fill the tune – 55:05 to 55:09, 55:20 to 55:22 — and then 55:58 to 56:07 and the tinge of grandeur mixed with melancholy). Listen to how the winds build up to the cymbals and then horns (56:32 – 56:44, just random anyhow naming of instruments) – this builds up so much anticipation for what’s next.
Gypsies / Windmill Scene
The curtain lifts to reveal a quiet stage at twilight, a windmill right smack centre in the background. The couple run in under the shelter of the shawl. The rain has stopped, and Basilio wraps the shawl around her – and then they decide to lay it on the ground for Kitri. This is one of my favourite pieces of music – tender plucking harp strings (1:02:24/33 leads us into the music – Carmencita). This is a tender polka with a Spanish touch, heads thrown back slightly, hands twisted. It is their dance of we’re together, at last — we see now that there is a loving urgency in how Min Yi catches Satoru’s hands lightly and tugs him along; and when she holds up her hand to invite him to dance, he runs straight to her. There’s a tenderness in how Kenya’s hands embrace Chihiro’s shoulders as she turns slowly, and it’s a gentle, loving waltz as she tucks one leg under and her arms inscribe the wonder of the music, and frame the face of her beloved as she leans back in his arms. The music soars as Basilio soars through the air, sweeping his legs in a clean energetic split that slices the air so perfectly the heart stops.You can sense the yearning that Kenya’s Basilio has for his Kitri – stay with me, stay by me, he says; and he holds Chihiro aloft like a pennant as she rests her hand to her cheek.
But there is that snap of a flame, in the dancing – that moment when she, looking away from him for a moment, extends a foot behind her and he catches her wrist and that ankle lightly, and they turn their heads sharply towards each other – and there’s that proud sharp gleam in Kitri’s eye, and then she pivots on her toe so that she’s facing him, though her wrist and ankle are still lightly in his grasp. It’s in that sharpness of the turn of the heads — that fire, that boldness. It’s in how she leaps into his arms lovingly, trustingly, and practically floats in the air as he swings her round; it’s in that thrown lift in the air that occasionally results in the umbrella skirt floating over Basilio’s head.
At the end of the dance, she sits down on the magic carpet of a shawl and he pulls her over and spins it round, and they are in the centre of the stage now as he sits down and they fall into a great embrace of relief.
What do we have here? Gypsies emerging: King Yorozu Kensuke and his band of merry men (some of whom are generous with their facial hair make-up — the drifting eye acknowledges Justin Zee, Reece Hudson, Shan Del Vecchio) for Cast A; youthful Boy King Huo Liang (sporting a fetching new hairstyle and bandanna) and his troop of gypsy friends for Cast B. — and yes, that’s what the Gypsy King asks – what have we here now? Basilio and Kitri explain that they eloped and folk are searching for them.
They get a good rest while the Gypsy King dances his characteristic dance. For this, the music leaps across the soundtrack, trimming the fat, as it were, and takes us to lively music (Danza Gitana I at 1:20:50). A might leap opens this dance – the Gypsy King skimming the air, suspended.
Yorozu Kensuke (Cast A) exudes confidence and experience, and injects a flair into his performance, whether it be when his Gypsy King is frilling the fringes of the air by waving his hands in an arc, or when he is tossing his tambourine over to Basilio with a watch me air. He, too, has been accompanying Chihiro and Kenya’s Kitri and Basilio over the years, and his Gypsy King is a triumph of high-speed Basilio-style spins and grace, to applause from the audience. Furiously fiery with fire right up to his fingertips.
Huo Liang (Cast B) is a zealous boy King who throws his back into his dance earnestly, and who absolutely wows the crowd with a tuck-legged jump and a series of steady stable spins that include, incredibly, a moment where twice, mid-spin, he simply lifts his foot right off the ground and tucks it under, which requires a fair bit of control. (I know, right! when was the last time you did that?)
At a signal from their King, the gypsies join in the dancing, lightly touching the backs of their heels, clawing at the air, throwing themselves into turns. Newcomer Erivan Garioli is a leonine, smooth Gypsy (who shows / has shown his dramatic leanings in the village scenes); Miura Takeaki turns in a fine, compact performance as always (here we slip in a gentle — if late — note of congratulations to Miura Takeaki and Minegishi Kana on their wedding, because we are sentimental).
When the dance is over and all are feeling right jolly, enter Sancho and DonQ (the music makes a neckbreaking leap from no. 35 to, I guess, no. 37 Escena – teatro de marionetas atacado por don quijote, quien luego ataca el molino de viento). The couple immediately think that everyone else isn’t far behind, and quickly hide, while the gypsy boys mischievously try to scare Sancho by stamping their feet, and make fun of DonQ’s stiff, fuddy-duddy manner.
Gypsy King has vanished and now he reappears in his grand rich robes and settles his crown upon his head. DonQ recognises the universal symbol of royalty and genuflects. It’s time for the Misunderstanding of the Century – (1:27:46 – 1:28:16) Gypsy King thinks that DonQ is trying to break up Kitri and Basilio, so he points to the tent where an appropriately-placed lamp allows everyone to see a shadow play consisting of Basilio proposing to Kitri, Kitri agreeing, and the couple embracing; DonQ, the daydream believer, thinks that some unfortunate turn of events has befallen Dulcinea (or else is jealous), and uses his spear to smack the tent – and like they say in a Nancy Drew mystery, suddenly the flame in the lamp goes out! and the tent is plunged into darkness and it falls over as the couple scurry out.
The quick-witted Kitri distracts DonQ by convincing the knight that the windmill (?) is some great monster that is attacking her – or summat (google says he thinks the Moon is Dulcinea and the windmill attacketh her), and the couple race off as DonQ turns his attention to the windmill. This makes for strangely soulful music (1:28:17 – 1:28:22) that stays in the mind. Don Q goes off to the side behind some backdrop / prop bushes and the gypsy boys form a crowd, creating a huge hullabaloo, and at last Don Q emerges, flying high and wielding his sword against his newfound enemy while poor Sancho calls out to him to come back down.
Eventually, DonQ is defeated and falls slowly back down to the ground, and in a matter of seconds, he emerges, limping and tuckered out (up to 1:28:50, because they’re sparing with the music). Poor Don Q! (I spent half the shows trying to see if Chen Wei had a harness on before, during or after the event, but was unable to spot any, and the lighting was not at 100% anyway, because it was twilight. Kudos to DonQ, who must have guts of roller coaster steel…the tummy churns on his behalf.)
Poor DonQ! again. Quietly, subdued, he hobbles over to and lies down at the front of the stage (1:30:05 to 1:31:01) – the melancholy music we recognise from the pre-Prologue, undiluted by any bucolic mood. Please skip past 1:31:02’s Allegro. Imagine the curtain falling now, behind Don Quixote as Sancho hurries away and he sinks into a deep, blissful sleep. The eye sees a magical glimmer of blue beneath the curtain, and there is the faintest whisper of toe shoes.
For what a blissful sleep this is as the curtain rises to the sweetest notes (1:32:47 – El sueño de Dulcinea), and to a dreamscape: glittering crystals descended from the heavens, rows of Dryads in varying shades of blue-green and blue dresses, a humongous moon with actual shadows that glows down benignly upon this scene (1:33:00) – and Cupid in a tiny grey-blue tunic dress with a headband and a little ponytail of curls (thankfully not the blonde wig) – and the Dryad Queen in the world’s most fabulous golden tiara and golden-and-white tutu set – and (I think) DonQ’s Dulcinea, now played by the last girl he saw, aka Kitri, in scarlet-trimmed gold.
Live music is magical — it carries a dreamy, romantic, tulle-veil sound to it that youtube cannot convey (1:33:47 – 1:34:19); and also a majestic grandeur (1:34:30-1:34:43) that reminds you that you are in another world.
May Yen Cheah is our stately, other-worldly Dryad Queen for Cast A, giving ample time to each moment – oh the chills, when she stretches her wandering hand across the sky, tracing the passage of the moon. Bi Ru is (in the words of a friend) the buoyant Dryad Queen for Cast B, gracious and smiling, and carries herself like a smiling vision in a dream.
Imagine yourself as Don Quixote, weary knight who has overcome battles and is now entering the twilight phase of his life; who spends time between the leaves of his books and dreaming of grand romantic adventures and damsels, and the good ol’ travelling days. Now he wakes in this beautiful world with the most stirring bewitching soundtrack in the world, and shifting shimmering Dryads.
An abrupt shift in music gives us the cue that Cupid is on the move (1:35:17) – light lively music, as Cupid leads him – perhaps he wanders amidst the waves of Dryads as they fold inwards and settle in neat columns. Always good to see familiar faces like Yatsushiro Marina, Nanase Marina, Ma Ni; and folk like Ma Xiaoyu, Felicia Er and Reiko Tan who fit very well into the line-up; and the charismatic Esen Thang and graceful Yamauchi Sayaka. A side-note on the new additions to the company – Henriette Garcia, who has a precision to her line and steps, and Yayoi Matches, who has an elegant graceful presence.
The Dryad Queen takes Don Quixote by the hand and leads him further into the kingdom — little leaps while her arm arcs high above — the ghost of a past Dryad Queen floats into the mind unbidden.
When Don Quixote aspires and desires to have a word with Dulcinea-Kitri, Cupid also takes her turn flitting before DonQ, smiling beguilingly at him with her arms in floating see-saw (sorry, but that is it) motions, like fluttering feathery wings, blocking him from approaching Dulcinea-Kitri, and she and Dulcinea-Kitri float away backwards (1:36:58 – 1:37:11 and onwards until 1:37:…24?). Each of the casts of Cupid, Dryad Queen and Kitri fit together seamlessly and have chemistry that you never knew was necessary until now, and it makes the audience smile. Chihiro (for Cast A) plays a sweet dream of a Dulcinea, smiling sweetly at Don Quixote from a distance with a sparkle in her eye; Min Yi (for Cast B) is the vision who manages, in the flickering of her arms, to suggest a beckoning greeting to Don Quixote.
The Dryads take over the stage with their lovely arms and delicate kicks from the ankle to tide us over to the next – not the lengthy song no. 42, which has the ring of old-school musical Hollywood to it and – but to the Dryad Queen‘s solo (1:42:49, i.e. no. 45 Souvenir Du Bal). May Yen Cheah (Cast A’s Dryad Queen) carries herself with dignity and experience, and there’s a significance and meaning to her dancing – the side leaps, the arched arms, the inscribed lines in the air with port de bras; Bi Ru (Cast B’s Dryad Queen — her second time) has a warm, natural grace and powers through her Italian fouettes solidly (1:44:18).
Next out is Cupid, a hot favourite with the crowd, for good reason, for this is an unforgiving Cupid solo (the music leaps backwards in time to no. 43, Amour, at 1:39:54). Nakahama Akira reprises her role as Cast A’s Cupid — flying, floating, so high are her little leg lifts and endlessly infinite are her skating spins, so light that she almost looks to be flying; and the music is relentlessly breathlessly quick on Friday night especially, but she whips through it and makes it look absolutely effortless; and there’s that little girl in the awestruck audience who stops and leans forward when Akira appears, and claps wildly with every inch of energy in her body when Cupid’s solo ends.
Hip hip hanky, here’s a snippet on instagram.
Beatrice Castañeda is Cast B’s Cupid (quietly much-anticipated and exactly as awesome as hoped for) – nimble, swift, speedy, always in control of every limb and movement — light as a feather, smiling brightly, feet in crystal pointe piercing the ground – a joyous, energetic Cupid who shares her delight with the audience and who, in both performances, blew the audience away — and again there is that one little girl (a different one, I think it’s the one who actually knows the music to the solos) seated behind who breathes, So cute.
I believe that it is now time for Dulcinea-Kitri’s solo (1:40:51 – song no. 44) while the audience watches, enraptured. Yes, the music jumps, but this makes for an entertaining Act 2 for which no Coke Zero was required at all. You may think the opening poses too slow and measured, but I think they show off the control and strength of our leading ladies, and have a gentle ladylike quality. If we are here for the bombastic moves, try that incredible moment where Dulcinea-Kitri hops delicately on the toes of one foot across the stage while unfolding her arms with perfect poise and calm and kicking the other foot out from about lower-mid-calf height all across the stage, maintaining her balance and gracious composure (1:41:44 – 1:42:01); followed by the gentle understated brilliance of little leaps and poses; and then the incredibly speedy spins in a circle as her legs eat up the breadth and width of the stage (1:42:31) – the little hops and the spins immediately draw loud applause for both our leading ladies from the impressed audience. Chihiro’s Dulcinea-Kitri is a light and sweet dream-vision, and carries herself with smiling, peaceful ease – and has such spectacular arabesques and speed. Min Yi’s Dulcinea-Kitri dances to the watching Don Quixote, coaxing, reassuring – delicate attitudes, crystal-sharp clean lines, arms shooting out to the stars, neat articulation in her moves, and every single pose radiating energy throughout the entire stage.
Now the end draws to a close (1:44:44 – Coda) as the Dryads ready themselves and Cupid emerges again to take centre stage with two major Dryads (Minegishi Kana with her pert, neat moves and high arabesques; Suzuki Mai, with that romantic graceful line and soft grace). They begin the Dryad dance with a quick gentle bend of the head and a fluttering of hands (1:45:07) that is magically in-sync – a farewell dance of light shifting feet and energetic arabesques.
Then the Dryads (bourree-ing furiously but always looking marvellously unruffled) line up in a diagonal to emphasise the grand entrance of Dryad Queen (1:46:42) – the music is sufficiently golden and grand as the Dryad Queen enters with a series of incredible successive leaps for joy – May Yen Cheah always a little ethereal while flying high; Chua Bi Ru effervescent, a joyous song. This is followed by an even more enthusiastic, blazing repetition of the same phrases of music (1:46:59) as Dulcinea-Kitri enters in on a high note — Chihiro light and sparkling; Min Yi’s leaps light and full of life. The light music after is for a spectacular show of quick action as Don Quixote sinks back down on the stage; and the music slows tenderly (1:47:31) as he starts to fall back to sleep to the lullaby of the Dryads’ bourree-ing feet while Dryad Queen, Cupid and Dulcinea-Kitri smile blissfully down at him..and then his lovely rustling actual Dulcinea in a long golden rustling gown and a Goddess of Mercy golden veil emerges to cast a sleeping spell over him.
A curtain falls behind Don Q, separating him from the dream scene, and Sancho re-appears as he wakes up, to help him away (1:47:52), to grand music.
The screen after intermission depicts DonQ and Sancho leaving the windmills behind as they advance on their adventure. What’s the music here? I’ve no idea.
A backdrop that cuts the stage off in half, and an open arched doorway at the back. A table to the audience’s right, and a ring of merry tavern-goers – and in run our happy hero and heroine through the doorway, having successfully escaped from DonQ and the search party – and they are the toast of the party. Espada and Mercedes are here too – surprise.
The song which I thought was from Act 1 is now here – for Kitri and Basilio to dance to – after Basilio has swigged from his glass and tossed it aside (56:45 – Song no. 27). This is the terrifying dance in which Basilio swoops into a series of spins before Kitri launches herself confidently into Basilio’s arms, looking immaculate and graceful throughout. A true test of courage and partnership; and Kenya’s Basilio makes us both impressed and momentarily ill (in a most pleasant way), as he totters a little as if he’s a tad drunk – before turning at the exact right split-second to catch Kitri and turn her upright into the right pose. I did go a little green around the gills each time Kenya did that, but it was a most amazing dramatic touch which I enjoyed highly, heart-in-throat notwithstanding – and, hand to heart (hand-to-throat?) which I wish everyone could have seen.
Basilio and Kitri retreat to a corner to rest while Espada steps up to the plate (1:06:44, Song No. 30). Espada starts out surrounded by a ring of admiring Spanish ladies, to spritz us with a little fire and remind us where this ballet is set; and he politely acknowledges them, without a single wandering eye. The dance is a smooth, suave Latin waltz-like dance – look at the smooth proud shoulder shrugs of Etienne’s Cast A charming, smiling Espada dancing to his Mercedes, and the twists in the wrists of our neighbourhood jolly good fellow Timothy Ng aka Cast B Espada. They both pull off the stuttering stamps of Espada, the raised arms forming boxes, the spins, with class.
Such class, in fact, that at the end when Espada ends up face-to-face with Kitri, Basilio senses that they are sharing a Moment that does not exist. Kenya’s Basilio is a little put-out, but is generally easy to reassure. Satoru’s Basilio, still the temperamental fellow he was in the earlier scenes (he who almost did not wish to dance when Kitri was dancing with DonQ; he who was in a right fine temper about almost smacking Lorenzo for interrupting their kissing until he saw who it was) enters a jealous sulk and nudges Kitri – hey, what was that all about? But Min Yi’s Kitri ignores him, adding fuel to the flames, and strolls away as he persists – and a tavern-goer (Shan Del Vecchio) good-naturedly stops Basilio in his tracks by offering him a drink to 息怒(xi1 nu4, quell his anger) and distracting him while Kitri pauses to chat to a random Spanish tavern-goer (Jason Carter).
In the meantime, a couple head out on a quick date but do a double-take and U-turn back into the tavern, saying that Lorenzo is headed here, searching for our happy couple (1:14:01 – Song No. 33). The couple quickly split and hide – Kitri creeps around behind the folk in the crowd to our left, while Basilio hides behind a fan held by a Cupid and they enter either a decorous false discussion (for one Basilio) or a slightly more involved episode (for another Basilio).
Lorenzo and Gamache enter – Gamache, wearing an air of hurry up and find me Kitri, peers into everyone’s faces. Lorenzo demands that the animated tavern-keeper (Esen Thang) inform him about whereabouts of his daughter and Basilio, but the tavern-keeper refuses. Lorenzo stamps his foot and snaps his fingers, Gamache follows suit, Basilio peeks out and watches with interest (1:14:36 or such similar music); Lorenzo repeats the gesture, as does Gamache, and cheeky Basilio joins in on the action by stamping his foot and snapping his fingers too – wait a second, says Lorenzo, and he and Gamache turn around, but Basilio plunges behind the fan once more.
Quickly, Espada attempts to sneak Kitri out – but by this time, Lorenzo has finished looking around and he catches sight of the escaping pair. Espada tries to pull her out (1:15:09), he and she waving cheerily to everyone (who waves back) – Lorenzo grabs her hand and tugs her back in (1:15:13) and this tug-of-war continues — Espada Timothy even blowing farewell kisses to the crowd on Sunday’s matinee as he pulls Kitri out — (1:15:17, 1:15:21) but eventually Lorenzo wins and tucks her hand into the crook of Gamache’s arm (up to 1:15:43) – now quick march to the altar!
We may recognise the music now as Gamache snottily leads the way – Kitri tugs on his arm once; he pauses, ignores, continues – a second tug to stop him does not make him brake – and so at the last, she lets him kiss her hands, presents both her hands to him as if she’s willing to marry him, nodding and smiling and mincing around him en pointe – but she pulls one hand away coquettishly – and as he leans forward, she pulls the other hand away and he topples over and falls (1:15:45 – 1:16:14).
Just when all seems well with Gamache vanquished, the music grows ominous (1:16:17) and in storms a hurt, angry Kenya-Basilio/ a stormy-faced, furious, jealous Satoru-Basilio, wrapped in a huge cloak, his right hand tucked in his armpit.
“Welcome back!” cries Kitri, but he ignores her open arms, and says Speak to the hand.
Look, he says – look at ye (indicating Kitri); look at him (indicating Gamache) – what is this, this hand-holding, this kissing (imitating the wild planting of wet slobbery kisses on his own arm)? Do you know how hurt I am?!! (One fist beats the passionate heart.)
Look here, he says to the stunned crowd as it draws close, and he whips his right hand out from under the cloak, here’s my shaving knife (click click – there’s the blade) – you have hurt my feeelings. Look at my knife! I am going to – stab myself right here in the armpit. (1:16:56)
–Everyone hides their faces in terror.
Basilio staggers a little on tiptoe for show in case anyone is still unconvinced — then he carefully uses his unencumbered right hand to unwrap the cloak, and lay it out on the ground just-so. Positioning himself carefully at the foot of the cloak, he takes the trouble to arch his back carefully and peer over his shoulder, to check that the cloak is long enough to hold him (triggering chuckles from the audience) and – for Satoru-Basilio, there’s even time to flash a large conspiratorial infectious smile at the audience which brings waves of laughter – before Basilio lays himself down comfortably on the cloak to die. (1:16:57 – 1:17:03; the rest of the music for No. 33, up to 1:19:19, fills up this scene — listen to e.g. the cheeky music from 1:17:20)
Now slowly the crowd dares to look up. Noooo, Basilio is dead, omg. Kitri kneels by his body and wails – oh! there’s the knife, which she pulls out by pressing one foot squarely on his body and tugging. Ew, the blood – she discards it – she cannot bear to look at it. A drink, somebody – any drink will do.
The tavern-keeper pops up and passes her a useful glass. What should she do with it? Not throw it into his face, surely. Kitri downs it promptly and immediately feels better (yes, that hit the spot, thanks!). (Do note that it is all mime so we insert the dialogue ourselves.)
Enter DonQ and Sancho – and as Sancho hurries past, Basilio can’t resist cheekily putting out a hand to trip Sancho up. Poor Sancho has no idea what hit him…
A drink might jolt some spirit(s) into the corpse, and Kitri holds a glass to his pale lips – and Basilio can’t resist heartily kissing her neck. Kitri looks quite surprised and blushingly pleased, blinking in delight (did I imagine that? — a hand drifts to her neck). She tests him with the glass again and Basilio plants more hearty smacks on her neck. Now Kitri’s sure: O good, he’s well and alive!
Now she must continue his charade. She jumps up to speak with her father; and just then, a highly-doubtful Gamache lifts Basilio’s leg and it remains suspended in the air, his toes beautifully pointed and his calf muscles drawn tight.
“Dying, my foot!” says Gamache, and he hurries to tell Lorenzo this– and Kitri, realising that her cheeky Basilio is having too much fun, quickly hides the leg with an open curtsey and a wide smile, and tries to shove the leg down. The leg has dropped by the time Lorenzo turns around, but Gamache is having none of this.
“Look,” he says to Lorenzo, as fussily as a small child demanding attention, “a dead man with his leg hanging in mid-air??” (Etienne’s Gamache eloquently draws his hand down his own lifted leg to demonstrate and raises an emphatic hand in annoyance.) “I ask you– is it natural?? He isn’t dead!”
But the leg is down. Well then, what better way to prove his point than for Gamache to whip out his sword in a childish fit of fury, lift it high in preparation to plunge it into the corpse– after all, since his rival is already dead, it won’t do any more harm than it would have –let’s see if you were right about him being dead!
The entire tavern, horrified, restrains him from further desecration of Basilio’s still-warm corpse, and Gamache sheathes his sword in a huff and stalks round the corpse and right in front of it — and is promptly confronted by an appalled DonQ, who reprimands him for his lack of respect towards the poor dead young man on the ground.
Thus ensues an argument in which Gamache fretfully fussily whips out his hanky and smacks DonQ on his metal breastplate with it –and Jason Carter’s hilarious Gamache stamps his foot, pouts like a child and points– out!get out!
DonQ, who towers over Gamache, easily grabs him by the shoulders and shoves him away forcefully.
In the background, while all this is happening, Kitri is pretending to sob over the body, blinking tears away furiously and drawing her hands away from her face to emphasise the tears that she is brushing away. ..and Basilio cannot resist sending a ticklish wandering hand either tiptoeing up her cleavage or else grasping as if to exaggeratedly cup the air about her chest (all done with care and decorum by the respective Basilios), and Kitri smacks his hand away, but not without a little delight that her Basilio is back.
Kitri has a brainwave, the same one that inspired Basilio, and she implores her father to allow her to marry the dead man (~1:18:46). After all, it can’t be much harm when he’s dead. Her father’s understandably reluctant – from bride to a nobody to widow of a nobody? – there’s no comfort in that. Kitri enlists Don Quixote’s help to plead with her father. “没问题 (mei2 wen4 ti2 – no problem),” says Don Quixote, always the gentleman ready to leap to the damsel’s assistance, and he marches over to Lorenzo and uses the end of his spear to help the conversation (1:19:09).
Gamache, too, draws his sword to threaten Lorenzo; and he, Don Q and Lorenzo form the points of a formidable triangle. I once thought Gamache was falling in with DonQ and helping to persuade Lorenzo, but I now think Gamache might be saying Don’t to Lorenzo. Either way, Lorenzo is easily convinced by Don Q’s don’t-mess-with-me spear, and he consents to the wedding, at which point Basilio leaps up happily to reveal the deception and wraps Lorenzo up in his cloak (1:19:15).
This brings us to the joyous Coda (Song no. 34, 1:19:20) which sees the entire tavern (bar a slightly confused and disturbed Lorenzo and the lonely Gamache, upon whom a drink is pressed) celebrating in this floor-spinner which sees rows of dancers led by our two central couples, kneeling and snapping their fingers, jumping to clap their hands (1:19:30). Quite my favourite part to this is always when Mercedes then takes the stage by going down a diagonal (1:19:55), spinning her arms down in changes in port de bras; then Espada enters to another phrase of music; then Kitri leaping through the air, then Basilio taking flight in another of his magnificent jumps (1:20:13). Everyone dances and runs along in joyous rows while Kitri and Basilio watch from their perch atop a chair and table, then they hurry off into the wings to prepare for the wedding pas de deux while everyone continues dancing and finally disappears out through the tavern door, leaving the now happily-drunk Gamache to close the scene with happy leaps and beated legs and wriggling arms as if he’s flying, framed by the barmaid to our left, DonQuixote still as a statue to our right and Sancho by Don Quixote’s feet, gazing up at the scene before him.
The Wedding Scene
At last! We are now back in the village again, heavy ivy strewn upon the rooftops and wondrous garlands of lights and lanterns in the sky that rise up with the veil of a curtain (Marcha – 1:48:22). Listen to those wedding trumpets!
Mercedes and Espada, as always, lead the festivities with their light, fine dancing (1:48:59). Entrez the Friends as well. Enter Don Q and Sancho, guests to the wedding, and then the couple to be wedded, and Lorenzo, and the priest who marries the couple. There’s a lot of music in this Marcha that I attribute in my memory to a lot of dancing.
Next up is another of the loveliest bits of music, a prelude to the pas de deux: the 6 Classical Girls or Kitri’s Wedding Guests enter in little trios, skirts like flowers, with their little lifts of feet and the proud tilts of their heads and shoulders, hands on their hips (1:59:25 – 2:00:29)..
..and then, wait for it – now we have the beautiful wedded couple sailing in, Kitri lifted in high (2:00:30 – Variación clásica II). To the rush of the music, we have the entering lift, the promenade in arabesque, the pirouette – seemingly simple gestures that signal a trusting partnership – all this builds up to the grander gestures, the slow deliberate music as they approach each other, her face glowing with pride and joy (2:01:33 – 2:05:45, Entree); Kitri throwing herself into a spinning pirouette, her leg extended, and Basilio catching her; successive one-handed pirouettes.
You can sense the difference in how the characters relate to each other now, from how much trust they must have in each other to perform the pas de deux. You know, when you watch Chihiro and Kenya enter, that you are in the presence of something special; and there’s something exquisite about Chihiro’s refined technique, and the odd thought crosses the mind that somehow you believe that pointed feet are natural to her – that every move is as natural as breathing; and Kenya is in breath-taking graceful form that brings cheers from the audience, and together they bring the house down right from the moment near the end when the snare drum sounds and she is thrown up and lands in a fish dive, a leg tucked behind him and their arms thrown open (2:05:04 – 2:05:10 is the throwing upwards :o).
On their part, Min Yi and Satoru play the Spanish-style wedded couple at their best, and their steady partnership and combined determination make Act 3’s wedding pas de deux feel real. Min Yi’s Kitri is the graceful, shining bride, throwing herself into her Basilio’s arms with the confidence of someone who trusts her husband, and you can see they are conversing with each other through the dance: he throws himself into a marvellous turning leap in the air (to a whoa from the audience) and turns himself proudly with his arm held high as if to say: I am ready to dance with you; and she gazes at him with a shining pride and confidence. Min Yi holds herself steadily and easily throughout the dance – Kitri has a few unenviable moments where she stays en pointe after she has released Basilio’s hand, and there is never a tremor or uncertainty in her gaze and her laser-sharp poses. Satoru retains the Spanish flourishes in the lift of his shoulders, and Min Yi’s final whirling of the arms overhead in her fish dive carry the Spanish flavour of the ballet.
The couple disappear offstage, and Kitri’s Friend 1 (Elaine Heng for Cast A; Nakahama Akira for Cast B) enters (2:06:48, Variación de Quiteria? — I know this song comes later, but weirdly, I associate the music with particular dancers). Elaine Heng carries herself with incredible calm and poise, and injects character even in the proud lift of the hand, her clean leaps, high arabesques, and the joyous execution of her dance. Akira’s Friend is light and carries off her piece with added charisma – every leap high and pronounced, every port de bras beautifully graceful.
Next up is Basilio in his magnificent solo (2:07:46), which both Kenya and Satoru carry off with incredible panache. There’s an unmistakable richness and depth to Kenya’s dancing — somehow there’s an unmatched height and power in his leaps, and he always unleashes an ability to fill the space of every note with immeasurable movement. Now when Basilio spins in the corners, for a moment you may think you are mistaken when, in the middle of his speedy spins, one of his legs suddenly unfurls and he whips it back in attitude as he continues with his spins. That requires jaw-dropping control and technique, full-stop.
But when you watch Satoru’s version you realise you are not mistaken at all when he does the same, confidently unwrapping a leg and lifting it while turning. Satoru has energy in spades and burns up the stage, powering through the moves without turning a hair.
The delightful thrumming of harp strings brings us Kitri’s solo (2:08:46), which opens with Kitri, fan in hand, leaping lightly; and then as the music brightens with wind instruments, the slick sliding open-and-shut of the feet like a fan; and later, Kitri delicately pawing the ground with a foot. The foot on the ground can be played in so many ways – openly or even over-the-top flirtatious could be the card played with such a move, but not for our two leading ladies. Chihiro is girlish, almost cheeky, but there is also finesse in the petite movements of her feet and a certain classiness to her solo; and Min Yi’s Kitri has a fresh, youthful, tasteful take on it, and she dances straight to the audience, acknowledging us as guests as she takes the fan-feet movement to the centre of the stage and curtseys openly to us.
Kitri’s second Friend dances next – Min Yi for Cast A and May Yen for Cast B (1:57:22 – Variación clásica I? again, I associate it with particular moves and dancers…). Min Yi’s Friend is evidently here to give her blessings with open arms, and she has very clear articulated moves and stable arabesques. May Yen Cheah dances as the light water lily floating on stage, with her delicate high arabesques and turns.
It took me a long time to understand why some of the dancers taking on lead roles were also taking on these soloist roles, given the demands of each role and given that there are so many possibilities for each soloist role as well. Watching Don Q drove home the point for me. It is not easy, making that leap from any other point in the line-up to the central role – it is not easy mentally or psychologically, bearing that weight on one’s shoulders and suddenly being in the limelight and having to fill the stage with your presence. Taking on the soloist roles in between perhaps helps to guide one along, fills the mental spaces in that huge leap, keeps the soul from deteriorating under that pressure, and also gives one the chance to have the experience in such major soloist roles and the confidence to fill larger shoes. Without that additional role to lean back on, there is only empty space in one’s psyche between one’s previous role in a ballet and one’s sudden meteoric rise to the centre. That’s all purely hypothesis, of course.
After Kitri’s second Friend completes her dance, Kitri strides out to silence, and then kick-starts the first of a series of dazzling, head-turning fouettes (Coda, 2:10:09 – 2:11:01). If this is the show-stopper you are looking for, it is here with all its bells and whistles and is worth the wait. Chihiro whips through the fouettes rapidly – single single double fouettes, countless to the finish but at last reckoning, it almost looks like forty-one fouettes, followed by Kenya’s turns (2:11:02) which are equally rapid and pack a punch, and the rafters ring with Bravos and cheers. We’re all rooting for Cast B too, and of course they’re more than ready for this – Min Yi steadily pulling out the countless fouettes beautifully without a hint of strain in her bright smile, perfectly calmly eating her way through them confidently and giving us that ease and assurance of knowing what this is all about – and when she is not even midway through, the Sunday matinee audience know they’re witnessing something exceptional – a successful debut – and they applaud all the way through to the finish of (if you’re counting) something like thirty fouettes and this is the magic touch, you know, because it’s a technical feat – and we are all so pleased. Satoru zips through his turns easily with his exuberant style and energy, and the audience is wildly appreciative as the wedded couple finish off with their triumphant pirouette and pose.
The music becomes unexpectedly grand and sober (Escena – 1:52:53) and a chap in full armour and a helmet turns up. Don Quixote, who recognises a rival when he sees one, immediately bristles and reaches for his spear and appears to challenge him to a duel – and the mysterious chap draws his sword and they clash for a few moments before DonQ, defeated, tumbles to the ground. He is helped up by the chap, who is unhelmeted by Lorenzo (1:53:04 – 06) — revealing that the chap is Samson Carrasco, who is here to remind DonQ that he swore never to fight again, and to bring the old man home (1:53:10). DonQ recalls his vow, and they shake hands and Don Q obligingly returns home (1:53:35). Kitri embraces him and Basilio bids farewell to him as friends would.
Sancho launches into a hilarious little jig (1:54:07) which even the Friends join in, wrapping an arm about him and hopping on one foot about with arms spread like a carefree bird; Gamache too, and Lorenzo, are persuaded to join, and eventually the entire village joins arms to form a whirling star in the centre of the stage, dancing round and around, as Espada and Mercedes dance a little to the side of the stage to complete the tableau.
The curtain on the happy village falls and Samson Carrasco brings out a chair in front of the curtain by Samson Carrasco. Don Q emerges and his imaginary Lady Dulcinea helps him settle into the chair with a large book, and sinks back into his dream world, happy and at peace with the world.
Now for the moment that always gives me pause. Photographs. I must say that I kind of feel bad taking photographs though I always want to try to say this is them and such like things.
Left to right: Dulcinea-Kitri’s Dryad Scene tutu; Basilio’s wedding tuxedo; Kitri’s wedding tutu; Gypsy’s costume; one of Kitri’s Friend’s Act 1 dresses; probably something from Romeo and Juliet (or Gypsy King’s robes?)
Storyboard of costumes, seen outside theatre.
The magnificent Metropolitan Festival Orchestra.
Just ‘cos it gives me a thrill to see these.
Left to right: Reiko Tan (standing in); Reece Hudson; Ma Ni; Mizuno Reo; Leane Lim; Jasper Arran; Watanabe Tamana; Jeremie Gan; Yeo Chan Yee; Erivan Garioli (Satoru on other nights); Jessica Garside; Justin Zee
Same as above, except with Sun Hong Lei on the far left (and is that Satoru behind Yeo Chan Yee – I think possibly so).
Cast B‘s Kitri’s Friends – Nakahama Akira and May Yen Cheah. I haven’t any good photos of Cast A’s so we shall have slightly more pics of all of Cast A later.
Cast A‘s Toreadors and Spanish Guests: Suzuki Mai, Yatsushiro Marina, Tanaka Nanase, Ivan Koh, Timothy Ng, Huo Liang, Miura Takeaki, Beatrice Castañeda, Minegishi Kana (Nakahama Akira is Cupid, hence not seen here)
Cast B‘s Toreadors and Spanish Guests: Suzuki Mai, Yatsushiro Marina, Tanaka Nanase, Ivan Koh, Jason Carter, Yorozu Kensuke, Miura Takeaki, Henriette Garcia, Minegishi Kana (Beatrice Castañeda is Cupid, hence not seen here)
Another picture for Cast B. The Cast B pics just turned out better.
Huo Liang as Gypsy King for Cast B.
Cast B‘s Gamache – Etienne Ferrère
Left-to-right, ignoring depth perception etc: Samson Carrasco (Shan Del Vecchio); Suzuki Mai; Huo Liang as the Gypsy King; Yatsushiro Marina; Akira as Kitri’s Friend; Reece Hudson in blue; Tanaka Nanase; Ma Ni in a yellow skirt; Mizuno Reo (partially hidden); Ivan Koh; Jason Carter (partially-hidden), Gamache (Etienne); Kensuke; Watanabe Tamana; Jeremie Gan; May Yen Cheah as Kitri’s Friend; Miura Takeaki (partially-hidden); Erivan Garioli; Henriette Garcia; Jessica Garside (partially-hidden); Justin Zee; Elaine Heng as Dulcinea (the sleight-of-hand as Dryad Queen is Bi Ru so this role should be May Yen Cheah’s but May Yen is also a Friend); Minegishi Kana; Beatrice as Cupid.
Cast B‘s luminous Mercedes (Chua Bi Ru) and Espada (Timothy Ng) cutting a fine figure onstage
Cast A – Always a lovely moment, when Chihiro gives Kenya a rose from her bouquet…
And another sweet moment, when Kenya takes the rose.
…and we can see the cast again – Shan Del Vecchio as Samson Carrasco; Kensuke as the indomitable Gypsy King; Elaine Heng with her bouquet as Kitri’s Friend; Reece Hudson; May Yen Cheah and Etienne looking sharp as the loyal Mercedes and Espada; behind Kenya we see Chen Wei as Don Quixote; Kitri; Mohamed Noor Sarman as Sancho; Mr Tsung Yeh, the conductor, under whose baton we have enjoyed a most melodious accompaniment to Don Quixote and had a triumphant Act 3; Miura Takeaki; Kwok Min Yi (Cast B’s Kitri) as Kitri’s Other Friend with another bouquet; Beatrice as a Spanish Guest; Jason Carter as Gamache; Chua Bi Ru as dream Dulcinea; Minegishi Kana as Spanish Guest; Erivan Garioli as the Priest, and Nakahama Akira as Cupid.
More pics of Cast A above, just because a friend kindly sent these over..
..and we also have Cast B – with Agetsuma Satoru (Basilio) and Kwok Min Yi (Kitri) in the centre.
And that’s a wrap and we are done, and it has been two very long months (we do this just to rhyme because we can).
Any and all typos are my own. I had to go and correct some really egregious Sleeping Beauty typos, ermahgawd.
Onwards! maybe we’ll do a piece on Semperoper. But first, Netflix.