5 Reasons to See Boston Ballet’s ‘Don Quixote’

Boston Ballet’s production of Don Quixote is back for the first time since 2012, with performances at the Boston Opera House through Sunday, March 26, 2023.

Don Quixote retells the story of Miguel de Cervantes’s original on the stage with the company’s talented performers working through Rudolf Nureyev’s choreography, with breathtaking costumes, sets, and a musical score by Ludwig Minkus.

If you’re visiting Boston or local and looking for something to do before the weather really warms up, this is one event you won’t want to miss. Here’s why you need to add Don Quixote to your plans for this week…

Boston Ballet Don Quixote
Lia Cirio and Artists of Boston Ballet in Rudolf Nureyev’s Don Quixote, photo by Rosalie O’Connor, courtesy of Boston Ballet

The Story

I promise the story of Don Quixote is much more exciting on the stage than it is in the original 1605/1615 two-part novel (or maybe I should give it another read, I did read it in Spanish class when I was far from fluent back in high school…) Thankfully though, you do not need to be super familiar with the source material to follow (and enjoy) this ballet.

Without getting bogged down in all of the details of the plot, Boston Ballet’s production brilliantly captures the story’s chivalry and comedic aspects, especially with the title character and his squire, Sancho Panza while showcasing the technical achievements of the dancers.

The Dancing

Rudolf Nureyev originally staged Don Quixote for Boston Ballet in 1982, and this version of the performance comes with the restoration of the prologue, which really sets the scene for what’s to come while adding to Don Quixote’s character.

Every dancer’s performance was outstanding when I attended the show’s opening night; however, Chisako Oga as Amour, Ji Young Chae as Kitri and Dulcinea, and Jeffrey Cirio as Basilio made the show truly memorable. I was very young the last time I saw Don Quixote, so before revisiting the ballet this week my biggest memory of the production was actually of the costumes (and that still stands, I’ll get to that soon), but the talent of the dancers cannot be understated here, especially during such technical feats that were expertly pulled off (like more fouettés than I could count during Chae’s solo performance, for instance.)

Chisako Oga in Rudolf Nureyev's Don Quixote, photo by Rosalie O'Connor, courtesy of Boston Ballet
Chisako Oga in Rudolf Nureyev’s Don Quixote, photo by Rosalie O’Connor, courtesy of Boston Ballet

The Costumes & Set

I’m a huge geek about costumes, whether it be in movies, TV shows, or live performances, and Boston Ballet always has some of the best I’ve ever seen. The costumes in Don Quixote really do add so much depth to each of the characters and, on top of being visually striking I love how so many of them were interactive (in the sense of things like moveable wigs and capes used by the characters) and how they added to the choreography as a result.

And, the sets! From the opening in Don Quixote’s room in his castle to an act set ‘outdoors’ in the countryside, the sets in this ballet might just be the most immersive I’ve seen in this kind of production; especially when viewed as a complete picture with the costumes and choreography.

The Music

Music in Don Quixote features Ludwig Minkus’s score arranged by John Lanchery; performed by Mischa Santora’s direction of the Boston Ballet Orchestra.

If you’ve been following my project of ‘watching every movie featured on Disney’s Great Movie ride‘ project, then you know I have been watching a lot of silent movies lately. With many of the films, Josh and I have found us comparing them to a ballet, where both rely on strong acting skills and movements to tell a story with no dialogue. One of my biggest gripes with these old movies though, have been that in the really early days of silent films, the music doesn’t even always go with the action and it makes the whole story drag.

I’ve been thinking about that a lot lately, and it really made me focus on how much of a role the music plays in Don Quixote. I mean, it does in every ballet regardless of the score as the live orchestra is always impressive regardless), but here specifically, the way the music reflected the plot was just spot on.

Boston Ballet Don Quixote

The Experience

There is nothing like seeing a ballet at the Boston Opera House, whether you are local to Boston or just visiting. Tickets to this ballet start at just $39, making this an exciting and affordable way to spend an evening at the theater while supporting the local arts scene.

There are so many wonderful restaurants near the theater, that you can easily put together a full night on the town. (Or, you can arrive early and have an excuse to walk around Primark and Macy’s, like I might have done.)

On top of the ballet itself, the Boston Opera House is stunning, and I always recommend arriving early (well, because I have anxiety and would be afraid of being late), but also to pick up a glass of champagne and to have time to take in the gorgeous architecture in the lobby and the theater itself before the show begins.


Tickets to Boston Ballet’s Don Quixote (and the rest of the season’s upcoming performances) may be purchased on BostonBallet.org or by calling (617) 695-6955.


Featured image credit: Ji Young Chae in Rudolf Nureyev’s Don Quixote, photo by Rosalie O’Connor, courtesy of Boston Ballet

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