Agnès Letestu, a feminine and warm Odette, and José Martinez, a convincing, pale, vulnerable prince Siegfried, are the stars of this deeply passionate, 'dream’ version of Swan Lake. Rudolf Nureyev’s interpretation of Tchaikovsky’s lyrical ballet, far from being a clichéd stereotype, is an exposé of astonishingly powerful and recognisable human emotions. Under the inspired and clear-cut musical direction of Vello Pähn, this production is one of the jewels of the Paris Opera Ballet’s repertoire. It brilliantly displays the meticulous precision, technical prowess and pure, unmannered style of the company’s unrivalled female corps de ballet.
Agnès Letestu, a feminine and warm Odette, and José Martinez, a convincing, pale, vulnerable prince Siegfried, are the stars of this deeply passionate, 'dream’ version of Swan Lake. Rudolf Nureyev’s interpretation of Tchaikovsky’s lyrical ballet, far from being a clichéd stereotype, is an exposé of astonishingly powerful and recognisable human emotions. Under the inspired and clear-cut musical direction of Vello Pähn, this production is one of the jewels of the Paris Opera Ballet’s repertoire.
This magnificent Royal Ballet production of Swan Lake is an unforgettable experience. Anthony Dowell’s interpretation of Petipa and Ivanov’s 1895 St Petersburg version set a standard and style that made it a ‘yardstick for others’ (New York Times). Wonderful choreography for the entire company includes the coveted double role of the gentle and vulnerable swan queen Odette and her predatory alter ego, the black swan Odile. It is a challenge relished by principal ballerinas, and is danced here in a spellbinding performance by Natalia Osipova, partnered by Matthew Golding as a powerful and empathetic Prince Siegfried. Tchaikovsky’s glorious score shines, given the full force of the Orchestra of the Royal Opera House conducted by Boris Gruzin, and Yolanda Sonnabend’s detailed, Fabergé-inspired designs evoke the atmosphere of Imperial Russia in the era of the ballet's creation.
This 'Swan Lake' is a 'Swan Lake' for our times, capable of transporting the audience to another world. The magic in the story suddenly takes hold of the viewer. Ballet is not simply a way of telling the story. Rather than gestures asking to be deciphered, the choreographer created large-scale, visionary movements closer to an artistic language of symbols and plays on the whole spectrum of human emotions. It always maintains a relationship of creative tension with its surroundings, especially the music, the poetry of the set, the use of light and colour, the texture of the costumes. A key element of this artistic responsibility is to tell the story precisely but openly, without pinning it down, especially the ending an ending which is in a many-faceted sense a 'deliverance'. Does this mean that the lovers are saved? Is the spell's power broken? Are there other kinds of salvation and deliverance? Perhaps even by death and transfiguration? Ballerina Polina Semionova performs the mythic parts of Odette and Odile (white swan and black swan) with her great partner Stanislav Jermakov. The Zurich Opera House Orchestra is conducted by Russian musical director Vladimir Fedoseyev acclaimed in this repertoire.
This is the second instalment in our series devoted to Tchaikovsky’s three great ballets. The first recording, of The Sleeping Beauty, was praised upon its release, described by a reviewer in American Record Guide as ‘one of the finest I’ve heard’. Here Neeme Järvi and the Bergen Philharmonic Orchestra present the complete version of Swan Lake, with the pre-eminent James Ehnes lending his magic to the violin solos. This was Tchaikovsky’s first full-length ballet, but its premiere in 1877, staged at Moscow’s Bolshoy Theatre, was by no means a resounding success. According to most accounts, the choreography was inept, the shabby sets and costumes were borrowed from other productions, and the orchestral playing was poor. Most ballet companies today base their productions on the 1895 revival by the distinguished choreographer Marius Petipa. Although this revival has been seen as more ‘danceable’, one may argue that the overall cuts and reordering ultimately destroyed Tchaikovsky’s ground plan of drama and tonality. Here we present Tchaikovsky’s original Bolshoy score of twenty-nine numbers across four acts, along with two supplementary numbers which Tchaikovsky provided not long after the premiere.
Matthew Bourne’s triumphant modern re-interpretation of SWAN LAKE turned tradition upside down, taking the dance world by storm. Now firmly crowned as a modern day classic, this iconic production is perhaps best-known for replacing the traditional female corps de ballet with a menacing male ensemble. Matthew Bourne blends dance, humour and spectacle with extravagant, award-winning designs by Lez Brotherston, to create a provocative and powerful Swan Lake for our times.
There have been a number of very fine performances on CD and DVD of of this marvellous timeless work - arguably the greatest masterpiece in the history of classical ballet - but a really good Blu ray disc is surely the visual holy grail! In my view this is by far the best overall presentation of Swan Lake to date. The playing and sound are magical under Gergiev's assured hand and the dancing is superb. It largely uses the traditional Petipa / Ivanov choreography. None of the sexual mannerisms that made Nureyev's dancing and choreography so distinctive, and the casting, costumes and sets are wonderfully conceived. No video performances include all the music Tchaikovsky wrote but this performance at 129 minutes seems quite complete…
Never has a ballet recording been so phenomenal and at the same time doesn't quite meet my criteria for selecting the definitive ballet recording–that is, the quality of the recording itself aside, GENERALLY, the music also has to be performed by the orchestra that premiered it and that the orchestra has had a long tradition of playing it. Such is the case with Abravanel's 60s recording of Swan Lake.
- By Gary -