Peter Wright and Galina Samsova’s production of Swan Lake the famous romantic ballet by Tchaikovsky tells the love story between Princess Swan Odette (Cèline Gittens) and Prince Siegfried (Tyrone Singleton). Although the Birmingham Royal Ballet cast is a combination of amateur dancers along side professionals this was only noticeable during Act 1 as the ballet progresses the strength of the dancer’s increases and they give an outstanding performance.
Set over four Acts the audience’s attention becomes focused on Cèline and Siegfried as they meet, fall in love, only to be torn apart by her fateful secret. That she is a swan who has been put under a spell and the ill-fated couple can never truly be together.
As the audience is first introduced to the lake in Act 2 I was completely in awe of the beautiful landscape designed by Peter Prowse. The lake itself could be seen in the background and the light rippling underneath the surface gave the impression of the moon beaming down onto the water wonderfully created by lighting designer Peter Teigen.
The final Act which features all The Swan Maidens and Cygnets was one of the most incredible visual acts I have seen in a version of Swan Lake. As the curtain rises the stage is full of mist and as the mist cascades down into the orchestra pit each of the Swans and Cygnets appears through the mist. As they rise to their feet to begin the final act slowly the mist disperses it truly is a breathtaking opening.
Costumes used in this version of Swan Lake was originally designed and used in the 1981 version by the acclaimed director and designer Prowse. With over 30 rails of costumes and 14 large wicker skips of costumes headdresses and shoes, there are said to be approximately 170 costumes used in this production with around 40 from the original.
With a vast array of rich colours and opulent attire wore by Royalty and courtiers were absolutely stunning throughout the entire production. The rich red, gold and black robes contrasted perfectly against the very dark gothic style scenery.
The highly accomplished orchestra led by the principal conductor Paul Murphy bought an incredible depth to this ballet. It’s such a pleasure to lose yourself within the beauty of the performance and the feeling of passion coming through the music.
Choreography team Marius Petipa, Lev Ivanov and Peter Wright deserve a special mention especially the scenes where the Swans and the Cygnets are performing on the Lake each of the dancers moved perfectly in time with each other. They moved so gracefully in a bird flock formation it was most enchanting to watch.
This version of the world’s most famous ballet is definitely worth going to see. Use the links below to find out further information and performance times.