Artistic Director: Lyudmila Nerubashchenko
Conductor: Igor Shavruk
Reviewer: Donna Kelly
It’s hard to believe that the original 1877 production of Tchaikovsky’s Swan Lake was considered a failure. Today, Swan Lake is one of the most famous and popular classical ballets of all time, with Moscow City Ballet billing it as one of their signature pieces.
Swan Lake tells the bewitching and ultimately tragic story of Prince Siegfried and his love for Odette, Queen of the Swans. Cursed by the evil Von Rothbart, Odette is doomed to live life as a swan except for a few fleeting hours at night when she reverts back into human form. Only a vow of true love and fidelity will break the spell but when Von Rothbart tricks Siegfried into breaking his vow by disguising his own daughter Odile (the Black Swan) as Odette, the enchanting love story takes a tragic turn.
Those who have seen Swan Lake before will know that the twinned role of the radiant White Swan and the scheming Black Swan, tests the full range of a principal ballerina’s powers but Liliya Orekhova handles the leads with grace, poise and precision. Seamlessly switching between the shy and innocent Odette to the sharp and cunning Odile, Orekhova is not only technically astute but also lends a sense of sadness to her role. Her pairing with Daniil Orlov, who is equally exceptional as Prince Siegfried, is nicely balanced and their pas de deuxat the end of Act II is simply stunning.
Although his presence is slightly lower key than expected, Talgat Kozhabaev is excellent in the role of Von Rothbart, conveying the character’s menace and manipulation as he pulls the strings behind the scenes, interacting wonderfully with Siegfried and Odette. Faroukh Sadvokassov also deserves a mention as the nimble Jester whose expressive dance, particularly his astonishing acrobatic split leaps, give the ultimately tragic story moments of energy and humour.
However, perhaps the most captivating scenes, are those which involve the whole ensemble. Set to a stunning backdrop of fairytale castles, banquet halls and a moonlit lake, Moscow City Ballet is on good form here, with the charming Dance of the Little Swans, which is performed with lightness and precision, and the sweeping ballroom waltzes in Act III which draw on Spanish, Neapolitan and Hungarian influences, standing out as highlights.
While Moscow City Ballet certainly succeed in capturing the ethereal beauty and drama of Swan Lake, the odd misstep and lacklustre jump prevent this from being a flawless production. That said, the young company bring energy and life to this timeless romance and Tchaikovsky’s beautiful and haunting score remains as captivating as ever – just like the ballet itself.
Reviewed on 1 March 2018 | Image: Contributed