Moscow City Ballet brings Tchaikovsky’s timeless Swan Lake to Nottingham’s Royal Concert Hall in all of its original form. The performance competes with modern revivals of the fable seen in ground-breaking versions from experimentalists such as Michael Bourne. An equally spectacular production taking us back to the ballet’s roots in an honourable and ultra-traditional telling of the tragic yet epic fairytale. In this classic interpretation, we witness once again the ultimate story of love, affection and determination in the fate of beautiful Swan Maiden and foolish Prince, both tricked by an evil sorcerer, leading to their heroic death as lovers.
Distinguished Victor Smirnov Golavanov provides the elaborate production with clever choreography, allowing the corps de ballet to showcase their energetic talents, at times overshadowing principles. Siegfried (Talgat Kozhabaev) lets the team down somewhat with his sometimes repetitive pacing and elaborate but largely empty gestures. Contrast this with the joker of the pack, the jester (Artem Minakov), from whom we see bold, charismatic, jovial mannerisms, lively leaps and extraordinarily controlled pirouettes, all matched with a rather cheeky expression.
The production is however dominated by the memorizing grace of the female dancers. Swan-like figures are captured remarkably with gentle, serene movements, whilst tight technical ability creates an astounding symmetry and unison in group sequences. The stage sparkles with a profound narrative clarity as we rediscover the true beauty of this old classic. Liliya Orekhova may have a tiny frame, but she displays huge skill, balance and poise in her convincing portrayal of both Odette and Odile; one faultless fouetté after another. Whilst her charm is more suited to the pure innocence of the white swan Queen, she does an admirable job at uncovering an inner passion and sexuality, showing her darker side, quite literally, as the black swan.
Tchaikovsky’s magnificent score is still just as stirring now as it has been for many years. Moscow City Ballet Orchestra perform superbly, highlighting the elegance, drama and splendour of this old Russian treasure with inspiring changes of mood and pitch, from the gentle tinkering of harp strings to the crashing crescendos heard in the finale.
The direction of the final act is slightly disappointing in its hasty presentation of the deaths; after lengthy, somewhat uneventful passages, blink and you may actually miss the climax. This is not to say the whole performance is flawed, it still remains a beautiful and captivating creation. So, although this may well have been Swan Lake’s hundred millionth stage appearance, it is still a long way off from losing its appeal.
Moscow City Ballet’s Swan Lake runs at the Royal Concert Hall until Saturday 23rd February. For ticket information go to http://www.trch.co.uk/index.aspx?articleid=14727