23-26 September 2015
Reviewed by Michelle Wright
I have waited for years until I thought my daughter was old enough to go to the ballet; watching her dance around the living room to Barbie films and pretend she was Darcey Bustle. Now 9 years old, last night I was as excited as she was to take her to see her first ballet – and so this for me, as well as her was a big night! I decided her introduction into the world of ballet should be one of the classics, a story she knew, could follow and loved. Tchaikovsky’s Swan Lake – one of the greatest ballet love stories was a perfect choice!
Swan Lake is a tragic love story of a handsome Prince who falls in love with Odette. However a magical spell has been cast on Odette that leaves her to live her life as a swan during the day. The Prince falls in love with Odette but is tricked into a marriage promise with the wrong maiden by the evil Baron von Rothbart.
The ballet is performed in 4 acts:
ACT 1: A Castle Courtyard where we learn that the King has passed away and his son Prince Siegfried must find a bride.
ACT 2: The lakeside by moonlight. Just as Prince Seigfried is about to practice his bow and arrow he witnesses the most spell binding transformation as the swan he was hunting incredibly turns into a beautiful maiden, Odette. Here we also meet the evil Baron von Rothbart – the magician who has cast this terrible spell.
ACT 3: The ballroom of the castle. At this grand event, Prince Seigfried must choose his bride but he can only think of one person he wants to be with – the beautiful Odette. But as he is tricked into dancing with Rothbarts daughter, Odile, who has been transformed to look like Odette – he asks to marry her! The Prince is grief stricken when he realizes he has been bound in marriage to the wrong girl!
ACT 4: The Lakeside. When Prince Seigfried finds Odette and tells her of the marriage promise he has made she explains nothing can now break the spell and as they cannot live apart, instead they must die together. The two lovers are united forever in their deaths and eternal love.
Armed with our background knowledge of the storyline, my daughter and I sat in a packed auditorium for the opening nights performance. Tchaikovsky’s moving overture set the audience to a hush as the curtain rises and my spine tingles at such incredible music.
The ballet began with breath-taking jumps by Tyrne Singleton seemingly floating on the stage, performing the role of Prince Seigfriend. His prima ballerina was Celine Gittens playing Odette as well as Odile! I am not a ballet expert but surely this role has to be the most daunting to be cast! Playing two key roles in one ballet, with so many incredible solo dances has to one of the most proud moments in a ballerina’s career. Her rendition of the swan in act II was totally mesmerizing – all the small touches of her shaking her leg representing ruffling of feathers, was so clever and left the audience totally spell bound!
The whole cast, costume designers, set designers, choreographers and musicians created the most magical rendition of this love fable – and all should be applauded on such had work and dedication as every detail was so right! The dark, dramatic, almost medieval backdrops allowed the small, delicate ballerinas in their classic white tutus to create a sharp, beautiful contrast. The costumes are nothing less than luxurious splendour – a palette of whites, silvers, golds and blues.
My daughter sat on the edge of her seat throughout, and on the odd occasion she took her eyes of the stage she mouthed words like ‘wow’ and ‘I love it’. I went into the Lowry with an excited little girl going to see a grown-ups show and I came out with a 9 year old ballet fan who is asking if we can go and see The Nutcracker next!
I cannot recommend this production of Swan Lake enough. Tchaikosovsky’s score was powerfully spine tingling, the ballet company magical and in all honesty I left in awe of the pure beauty I had just witnessed for the last 3 hours!
If I had to use one word to sum up my evening it would be ‘enchanting’ – I urge you to book and go and see this masterpiece!
Tickets cost from £15 to £47 (includes £2 booking fee).
Swan Lake is at The Lowry in Manchester until 26 September 2015. For more information or to book tickets click here or call the box office on 0843 208 6000.
The Lowry, Pier 8, Salford Quays, Manchester, M50 3AZ | 0843 208 6000