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Swan Lake at the New Theatre Oxford

A review by Jolanta Ryba

Swan Lake

Swan Lake (Russian: Лебединое озеро Lebedinoye ozero), is a ballet composed by Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky in 1875–76. Despite it being an initial failure, it is now one of the most popular of all ballets.

About Swan Lake

The scenario, was fashioned from Russian folk tales and tells the story of Odette, a princess turned into a swan by an evil sorcerer’s curse. The choreographer of the original production was Julius Reisinger (Václav Reisinger). The ballet was premiered by the Bolshoi Ballet on 4 March 1877 at the Bolshoi Theatre in Moscow. Although it is presented in many different versions, most ballet companies base their staging both choreographically and musically on the 1895 revival of Marius Petipa and Lev Ivanov, first staged for the Imperial Ballet on 15 January 1895, at the Mariinsky Theatre in St. Petersburg. For this revival, Tchaikovsky’s score was revised by the St. Petersburg Imperial Theatre’s chief conductor and composer Riccardo Drigo. Piotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky (1840-1893) became one of Russia’s first composers, who developed a truly international reputation. He created many masterpieces in each of the musical genres: opera, symphonic music, and concert. Anyway, his contribution to the world of ballet places him amongst the greatest romantic, European and world composers.

About the UK tour

The Raymond Gubbay Ltd company brought a host of prestigious artists to British audiences. The company presented the Russian State Ballet of Siberia for over 25 years, with annual UK tour for up to 4 months visiting every part of the UK, with more than 100 performances in the UK and 4 in Oxford. Swan Lake is presented 3 times in our city. What a great choice!  

The Russian State Ballet of Siberia

The Russian State Ballet of Siberia was formed in 1978 by talented graduates from choreographic schools in Moscow, St. Petersburg, Kiev, Novosibirsk, and Yekaterinburg. Many of them won prominent competitions and festivals worldwide. The company has established itself as one of Russia’s leading ballet companies and has built an international reputation for delivering performances of outstanding quality and depth. The soloists and corps de ballet never fail to delight with their breath-taking physical ability. For the 2018 and 2019 season, the Company merges traditional and digital worlds with an imaginative staging set against an ever-changing colourful backdrop sprinkled with magical special effects.

Sergei Bobrov is an Artistic Director; Anatoly Tchepurnoi is a Music Director and a Chief Conductor.

The performance

The Russsian State Ballet of Siberia has been successful everywhere – internationally and inter-continentally; the Swan Lake is one of the favourite ballets, a pearl of classical ballet with universal beauty of its music and stunning choreography. Francisco Gimenez as a Prince Siegfried brought his ballet soloist skills to the level of high art, the same comment deserves Ekaterina Bulgutova, Anna Fedosova and Anastasia Belonogova. Their unique interpretations of dramatic roles in Swan Lake are delivering emotional and dramatic integrity, which is believable now to the modern public.

I especially liked the stunning performances of the leading characters, which was very precise and touching. Some very moving scenes of dances by Odette and Prince very charming and were well complemented with delicate melancholic music.  The Prince’s solo dances were packed with expression and energy. As for the Prima ballerina’s solos, they were delightful and danced with a sense of grace and effortlessness. All the group dances were performed technically well, in fact, they were breath-taking. The costumes were colourful, vibrating and contrasting, they were underlying the changes of emotions.

The animated scenery was simple but very effective e.g., moonshining, the shimmering of water, fires burning, swans gliding on the lake etc. added to  the sense of fantasy and emotion.

The big applause from the audience which followed yesterday performance was truly well deserved. The Russian State Ballet Orchestra performed in an outstanding way with the superb violins and oboes solos, masterpiece direction and conducting. Big bravo, bravissimo for all the artists, corps the ballet, ballet master and manager. We all need to learn, how the classical ballet should look like, be heard and how to be performed from the best ballet artist. Who understands more Tchaikovsky music and ballet if not Russians?  European culture shines through such performances and we are proud to be the part of it even in Brexit difficult time.

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