Swan Lake – London’s Coliseum until 2nd September
“Utterly sublime ballet from St Petersburg comes to London”
Review By Rosalind Freeborn
If, as a child, you had a box of treasures and would open it to admire and cherish the contents, knowing what was there but loving seeing each precious thing, you might have the same sensation watching the St Petersburg Ballet Theatre’s production of Swan Lake. All the expected ingredients are there – beautiful dancers, glorious music, a sumptuous set and fabulous costumes – you know what’s coming but it’s still a surprise, and just as headily thrilling as the first time you ever saw it.
London’s prestigious Coliseum – one of the capital’s largest and most magnificent theatres – is hosting a visit from the wonderful St Petersburg Ballet Theatre. This company, a relatively young 25 years old, presents ballet which is true to its classical origins. So what you are seeing, with this production of Swan Lake, is an experience which could have been enjoyed by ballet enthusiasts from 100 or 50 years ago. You could argue that the notion of stopping the show to take a bow and acknowledge applause immediately after a dance is not the modern way – well, no – but those dancers deserve recognition and reward for a sensational solo or thrilling pas de deux and the audience at the Coliseum knew what was what on the press night and roared their approval.
Dmitri Akulinin and Irina Kolesnikova – Photo Vladimir Zenzinov
The lead dancers, the company’s Prima Ballerina, Irina Kolesnikova as Odette/Odile and Denis Rodkin as Prince Siegfried are truly sensational. Athletic, strong, graceful, expressive and stunningly beautiful, they make a truly memorable stage partnership. You absolutely believe that the young prince has fallen in love with the swan princess and that she too is smitten but not free to express her love.
The corps de ballet was magnificent too – the audience gasped as swan after swan pattered onto the stage filling the space with matching dancers in perfect tutus, undulating shoulders, expressive arms and fluttering fingers. The dance of the young swans was a joy – so delicate and charming.
Irina Kolesnikova – Photo KT
I enjoyed the comic elements provided by Sergei Fedorkov as the court Jester, whose lightly witty performance belied tremendous technical virtuosity. He’s one of those dancers who can sail up into the air, stay there for a while and then come down again with a perfect flourish.
The orchestra of the English National Opera was on sublime form under the baton of Vadim Nikitin. It’s no mean feat keeping hold of a huge band in the pit while maintaining awareness of the dancers on the stage and ensuring it all keeps pace and time.
The costumes were a visual feast. At times I felt I had fallen into a Pre-Raphaelite painting full of highly coloured robes, lavishly adorned with ribbons, embroidery, lace and gold. The richness of the court scenes contrasted well with the simple white tutus of the swans adorned with feathers and twinkly crystals.
I don’t think I need to explain the story of Swan Lake suffice to say that a prince on his birthday resists the charms of many suitable suitors in favour of a beautiful swan princess, Odette, he happens upon while hunting but she is in thrall to a wicked magician. When she’s invited to a ball, where he intends to propose, the sorcerer replaces her with a wicked counterpart, Odile, in a black tutu, who captures the prince’s heart and then disappears. There’s a chase, a fight – the swan (nearly) dies, evil is vanquished and the couple live happily ever after. It really doesn’t matter what it’s about, just savour the glories of this fabulous production and enjoy humming the tunes and picturing the scenes afterwards – another jewel of an experience to add to that treasure box of theatrical memories.
Production: St Petersburg Ballet Theatre Present Swan Lake
Venue: London Coliseum, St Martin’s Ln, London WC2N 4ES
Dates: Wednesday 22nd August – Sunday 2nd September 2018
Performances: Tuesday – Sunday Evenings 19:30, Thursday & Saturday Matinees 14:30, Wednesday 29th August & Sunday 2nd September Matinee 14.30
Prices: £20 – £95 plus booking fee.
Irina Kolesnikova Aug 22nd eve, 23rd eve, 25th mat, 26th mat, 28th eve, 29th eve, 30th eve, Sept 1st mat,
2nd Sept mat
Yulia Stepanova Aug 23rd mat, 24th eve, 25th eve, 29th mat, 30th mat, 31st eve, Sept 1st eve
Denis Rodkin Aug 22nd eve, 23rd eve, 25th mat, 26th mat, 28th eve,
Kimin Kim Aug 23rd mat, 24th eve, 25th eve, 30th mat, 31st eve, Sept 1st eve, 2nd eve
Alexander Volchov Aug 29th mat, 29th eve, 30th eve, Sept 1st mat
*The Producers reserve the right to substitute any named artist(s) at any scheduled performance(s).