If you want to see pure, dazzling, practically perfect classical ballet technique danced superbly then this screening is for you.
The Paris Opera Ballet’s revival of Nureyev’s SWAN LAKE is superb. The production choreographed by Nureyev was first presented at the Paris Opera Ballet in 1984 and previously last seen in 2011. This screening was of the performance that took place at the Opera Bastille in Paris on the 8th December 2016.
Nureyev’s rather Freudian version is presented as if it is the main characters Siegfried’s dying dream, controlled by Wolfgang, his tutor, who in Siegfried’s mind becomes the mysterious, malevolent Rothbart. The orchestra, under maestro Vello Pahn, plays superbly .
For the scenes in the palace there are clean , elegant lines of doorways and for the lakeside ‘white’ scenes there is a rather Turner like ominous landscape.
In this version there are, thankfully, no annoying court jesters. The costumes are Medieval in appearance. The court scenes are mostly in soft, autumnal colours, and Siegfried is in blue, grey or silver. The costumes feature very ornate embroidery.
Tall, handsome Mathieu Ganio was superb as Seigfried and his dancing featured dazzling, classical technique.
He is the typical Prince in Act 1 and has a ‘lonely, yearning ‘ solo, and meets and falls in love with Odette – with dramatic , tragic consequences. The production does not offer much opportunity for character development, although he does stand up to the Queen and insist on marrying Odile at the end of Act 3, to her displeasure and with fatal results. It did feel a bit out of character for him to be so rude rejecting the assorted six princesses his mother presents for him to choose from.
In the dual role of Odette/Odile, Amandine Albisson is superb. As Odette , she is regal and delicate yet steely in nature, trapped in Rothbart’s spell that only true love can break. She tremulously allows herself hope, and is fluttery and exquisite with incredibly expressive port des bras.
As Odile in Act 3 she is radiant – a scintillating, sophisticated temptress, a glittering, smiling villain laughing at Siegfried’s downfall. The famous ‘white act’ pas de deux in Acts 2 and 4 were breathtakingly done.
In the double role of Wolfgang/Rothbart Francois Alu is tremendous. Wolfgang is portrayed as rather young, suave, ultra charming but with a Mephistopheles aura, looming in the shadows, manipulating everything, and in particular, almost hypnotising, Siegfried.
In his bat like appearance as Rothbart, the evil sorcerer who transformed Odette in to a swan, he ominously swoops and swirls. Rothbart is an enigmatic, malevolent trickster with a twisted, chilling hold over Siegfried.
No small wonder that the Queen Mother is rather dubious in Act 3 when he has become/transformed into the civil Rothbart, courtly and elegant. It was interesting to note that the ‘Black Swan’ pas de deux in Act 3 for Siegfried and Odile became almost a trio.
The big waltzes in Acts 1 and 3 were excitingly performed as were the national dances in Act 3.
The corps de ballet of swans were relentlessly, precisely drilled and the filigree, intricate criss-cross patterns were movingly performed, the corps moving and breathing as an ebbing, flowing, sculptural mass.
This SWAN LIKE was magnificent to see. Running time 3 hours and 15 minutes with one interval. The screening featured interviews both prior to, and during the interval, of the performance.
The Paris Opera Ballet’s revival of Nureyev’s SWAN LIKE is screenins as part of this year’s Palace Opera and Ballet season between the 17th and 22nd February.