Review Date: January 14 2020
Performances: January 14-15, 7:30 & 2:30 matinee
Location: Empire Theatre, Liverpool
Duration: 140 mins incl. interval
Age Rating: 5+
A timeless tale of concealed truths and tragic mistakes, Swan Lake demonstrates the beauty of love and dramatic heartbreak having been truly brought to life, and the show is now performing at Liverpool’s Empire Theatre.
It’s the Prince’s birthday and celebrations are well underway; the local peasants have been welcomed into the castle to share in the merriment. Prince Siegfried’s tutor, Wolfang and best friend, Benno are celebrating with him, drinking and dancing with the peasants. When the Queen arrives to tell the Prince that he must marry now that he is of age, Prince Siegfried is least pleased. She advises him to make a bride out of a lady who he shall meet at the Grand Birthday Ball. Benno attempts to lift the Prince’s spirits, while Wolfang has one drink too many and makes a fool out of himself. As the evening turns to night, Prince Siegfried- still rather dispirited- wanders off alone away from the celebration and finds himself at the edge of the lake. He notices a flock of beautiful, white swans gliding across the water and is captivated by the beauty and elegance of one in particular- Odette. She appears as a woman and Prince Siegfried approaches her. She tells him of her devastating past and the life she has to endure…
Odette’s mother was a good fairy who fell in love with a knight; they were married and had a precious baby girl. The dashing knight showed his true, dark colours when he forsook them both, leaving Odette’s mother to die. The Knight remarried and Odette’s grandfather looked after her. A lake was formed by the endless tears of grief cried by her mourning grandfather, and he took Odette out onto it. Odette turned into a magical Swan; graceful, yet trapped. Her evil father returned to her in the form of a dark raven and torments her with his presence over the lake. The only thing that can break her father’s power is the stronger, adverse power- love. If someone was to fall in love with Odette and marry her, her life would be free from the emotional pain she endures. The Prince, touched by her story and beauty, asks her to be his bride and promises to love her forever. Odette is invited to the Grand Birthday Ball, but with dawn approaching, her true self is hidden and she returns to a swan once again.
At the Grand Birthday Ball, female guests arrive from Hungary, Russia, Spain, Italy and Poland and they each dance for the Prince and the Queen. The Queen is expecting Prince Siegfried to choose a bride from amongst these eligible ladies. The Prince refuses when a late guest is announced- Baron Rothbart and his daughter, Odile. Odile appears exactly like the beautiful Odette he promised to love and marry. Odile performs for him and he joins her in the dance, assuring her of his love with a gentle kiss upon her hand. He asks her father for her hand in marriage the Queen shows her approval. As a raven’s squawk is heard, the evil disguise is dropped and Prince Siegfried realises he has been tricked. He notices Odette, his true love, through the window and rushes to her. He gently approaches her with regret and asks for her forgiveness. A storm breaks out as Odette tries to leave, but his love for her is too strong to let her flee from his grasp. To show Odette that he is willing to sacrifice his life for her, the Prince battles with the evil raven and they both get swallowed up by the strong waves and die.
I have never seen movement so mesmerising and exquisite. The whole cast were incredible; professionalism was written all over this stunning production of the classic story and the whole audience were captivated from start to finish. When the Prince leapt, it was as though gravity stopped and to stare in amazement. He seemed to soar from one corner of the stage to the other. The sheer beauty and sensitive portrayal of emotions through nothing more than music and dance was exceptionally moving to witness. It is quite impossible not to spend a moment simply starring at their feet in amazement as some of the world’s most talented ballet dancers seem to flutter above the ground; every inch of their bodies describing the heartfelt story. If you had ever wondered whether it possible for a human to take on the form of a bird, you could not be more convinced of the prospect as you watch the most elegant dancers move as swan-like as humanly possible.
Their strength and grace is uniquely unexplainable, and paired with such a grand yet touching musical score, is truly enchanting. The music was breathtaking. Every aspect of the story was told through the tempo and dynamics of Tchaikovsky’s beautiful, timeless score. The instruments perfectly represented the nature of each scene, with soft woodwind reflecting the gentleness of the swans; harsh brass and percussion dramatically introducing the dark raven and the intensity of the strings painting the emotional and tragic sense of the tale. An attention to detail like no other is achieved in this production, as musical nuances are realised and minuscule impressions create an intimate feel to a rather magnificent production.
With the light catching the sparkles of the glorious costumes, it was as if they themselves were twinkling and the stage was radiant with enchantment. The smoke and lighting effects brought another dimension to the dramatic changes of mood created by the glorious orchestra.
I am not sure I have experienced such a captivated quietness in an auditorium at any other production. The audience were entranced by the sheer emotional artistry of the Russian State Ballet Of Siberia in their production of Swan Lake.
Target Audience: All Ages
Content: 0/5 – No content likely to offend
Overall Rating: 9.5/10- Classic
Russian State Ballet Of Siberia – Swan Lake runs at the Empire Theatre until Wednesday January 15. To buy tickets, click here or call 0844 871 3017.