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Windmills & Wonder at the Metropolitan Opera

Gillian Murphy in Don Quixote. Photo: Rosalie O’Connor

The new season of the estimable American Ballet Theater at the Metropolitan Opera at Lincoln Center opened splendidly on the evening of Monday, May 15th, with a delightful performance of the popular and winning Marius Petipa & Alexander Gorsky. Don Quixote, set to a charming score by Ludwig Minkus, and seen here in the serviceable staging by Kevin McKenzie and Susan Jones. In addition to the classic (and classical) story-ballets that comprise the backbone of the company's glittering repertory, the new season promises several novel and less conventional gems including the New York premiere of Whipped Cream by Alexei Ratmansky—the most dazzling of contemporary choreographers—a setting of an underappreciated Richard Strauss score from the 1920s, along with a revival of the his fabulous, recent The Golden Cockerel, and a celebration of works with music by Peter Ilyich Tchaikovsky.

In recent years, the most memorable pairing in Don Quixote has been Ivan Vasiliev and Natalia Osipova, but one of the strongest Ballet Theater principals, Gillian Murphy, proved to be an incandescent, if worldlier, Kitri. Her partner, Cody Stearns, has seemed more and more effective in the past few seasons, and was here seen at his near best as Basilio.

In the secondary cast, Craig Salstein, so hilarious as one of the wicked stepsisters in the glorious Frederick Ashton Cinderella, was an equally deft comedian as Gamache. The radiant Hee Seo astonished as Mercedes (and as the Queen of the Dryads) and was beautifully complemented by her partner, the commanding James Whiteside as Espada. Also superb were Devon Teuscher and Cassandra Trenary as the Flower Girls and Luciana Stone and Gabe Stone Shayer as the Gypsy Couple. The luminous Sarah Lane was an exquisite Amour while the terrific corps de ballet was consistently wonderful.

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