Balanchine's balletic version of the Cervantes novel debuted in 1965, with music by Nicolas Nabokov. The lead role of Dulcinea was created for Farrell, then a member of New York City Ballet as well as Balanchine's muse. When Balanchine died in 1983, he bequeathed the dance—as well as two other works—to Farrell.
Farrell began to stage annual concerts at the Kennedy Center in 1999, and Susanne Farrell Ballet officially debuted in 2000. But she chose not to perform Don Quixote until now.
"I've wanted to do this work for a long while," Farrell told Playbill earlier this year, "but I needed more experience with my company. The 400th anniversary of the publication of the Cervantes novel seemed a perfect time."
In this week's performances, members of the National Ballet of Canada will join Farrell's company; two NBC principals, Sonia Rodriguez and Heather Ogden, will share the role of Dulcinea.
Farrell has made some changes to Balanchine's original version.
"I think in a sense that Mr. B gave it to me to see what I could do with it, as a challenge," she said. "In one version, he added a lovely Spanish divertissement but it gets in the way of the plot. Just when the story is being established, here comes this distracting dance. Then you have to establish what's going on all over again. So I took that section out. Mr. B would expect me to try alternatives—he was preparing me to find my own way into his ballets."
Farrell's staging features set design by Zack Brown, costume design by Holly Hynes, and lighting by Brad Fields. Ron Matson, music director for Suzanne Farrell Ballet, will conduct the Kennedy Center Opera House Orchestra.