Reviewed by Ann Durrell
This reprisal of the Birmingham Royal Ballet’s 1981 production of Tchaikovsky’s iconic Swan Lake no detail has been left out. From the atmospheric staging to the beautiful costumes, the precise choreography to expertly delivered score everything comes together to deliver a truly stunning spectacle.
We are introduced to Prince Siegfried at a gathering, drinking with his companions before they are interrupted by his mother. Concerned about her son’s behaviour and lack of a wife Siegfried is told he must take a wife to be chosen at the next evening’s royal ball. Prince Siegfried is not so keen and when he and his friends see a flock of swans flying over, they pick up their crossbows and head out to the forest to hunt.
Act two in the woods Prince Siegfried discovers a group of swans who before his eyes transform into beautiful maidens. It is there he first lays eyes on Odette danced by Momoko Hirata and they fall in love. Hirata is mesmerising in the role, her grace and the precise delivery of the movements is captivating. The dance of the little swans is delivered to perfection and the swan maidens are elegant throughout. Evil owl-like sorcerer Rothbart is lurking in the shadows watching the two would be lovers dance, in the knowledge that the flock are under his spell and in the day will once again transform back to swan form.
Act three, the Royal Ball is when the real magic happens. Each of the visiting dignitaries arrive to introduce their princesses to Siegfried. We are then truly treated to outstanding dancing from the whole company which is complemented by their beautiful costumes. Hirata as Odile, Rothbart daughter dances so well I was holding my breath watching her turn, turn and turn again without ever touching the floor. Cesar Morales dances as Prince Siegfried and he too is perfection in the role and I could not take my eyes off the stage. Unfortunately, it is in act three where the tale all takes a more sorrowful turn. Siegfried dances with Odile not realising it is not Odette who we see projected to the back of the stage. It is too late by the time he realises his mistake as he has already proclaimed to the court he will marry Odile, therefore sentencing her to life in swan form.
Act four and Siegfried rushes to the lake to beg forgiveness but the spell can no longer be broken, Odette chooses to die rather than remain a swan forever. Siegfried unable to live without is love walks into the lake with her to spend their eternity together. The emotions evoked in the audience during act 4 are apparent through the absolute silence in the theatre.
With the Royal Ballet Sinfonia performing the legendary score without flaw everything about this production is superb. The running time includes a 20 minute break after act two and another 15 minute interval after act three, Birmingham Royal Ballets’ Swan Lake is a must-see for any ballet fans or first-timers.
Tickets cost from £10 (booking fees may apply).
Birmingham Royal Ballet: Swan Lake is at The Lowry in Manchester from 4-7 March 2020, for more information or to book tickets visit www.thelowry.com or call the box office on 0843 208 6000.
The Lowry, Pier 8, Salford Quays, Manchester, M50 3AZ | 0843 208 6000