Royal Opera House
Tuesday, 22nd May 2018
Swan Lake – 05/22/2018
Odette/Odile: Akane Takada
Prince Siegfried: Federico Bonelli
Von Rothbart: Bennet Gartside
Benno: James Hay
Siegfried’s sisters: Claire Calvert, Yuhui Choe
Big swans: Nathalie Harrison, Tierney Heap
Cygnets: Elizabeth Harrod, Meaghan Grace Hinkis, Romany Pajdak, Leticia Stock
I was very much looking forward to Lauren’s turn to lead Swan Lake, but on Monday the ROH sadly announced that she had suffered an injury, and that Akane Takada would have replaced her as Odette/Odile.
I like Akane, but I had waited so long to see Lauren alongside Federico, they are one of my favourite partnership ever!
Anyway, it’s been my third viewing and Liam’s Swan Lake just gets better and better – it really deserves repeat watching. It’s such a marvellously opulent production and the new choreographies in the first and third acts are just fabulous.
Act 1 opened to the courtyard of the royal palace where dashing Prince Siegfried is celebrating his birthday.
The court gathers around in a whirlwind of waltzes and polonaises, that were a total glee to watch.
Olivia Cowley, Isabella Gasparini, Fumi Kaneko, Mayara Magri, Matthew Ball, Reece Clarke, Tristan Dyer and Marcelino Sambé took the lead, and it’s been so wonderful to see some of my favourites dancing alongside each other – it was such a contentment to have Reece, Matty and Marcelino together. And so so good to see Reece dancing with Fumi! I really wish they’ll be casted for DonQ together next season as Basil and Kitri, it would literally be a dream!
As Siegfried didn’t want to dance with his younger sisters – Claire and Yuhui – James Hay partnered them as Benno in a joyful pas de trois full of brio. James’ solo was aerial and precise, and at Claire and Yuhui’s dancing the enthusiasm just exploded out of my face.
In the transition between act 1 and act 2 Federico gave an incredibly dreamy solo, immaculate in lines and technically exquisite.
In the white act Akane was gorgeous and flawless, and the corps were on impressive form. Indeed, the cygnets were great and all the swan ensembles absolutely stunning.
Perhaps it’s because they were not meant to dance together in Swan Lake and they’ve had so little time to rehearse since Lauren’s injury announcement, but albeit finely danced the pas de deux did not show much connection between Akane and Federico – but luckily for her the precision of his partnering is always impeccable.
In the third act the four princesses gave a pleasant quartet – with Itziar Mendizabal as the Spanish Princess, Fumi Kaneko as the Hungarian Princess, Meaghan Grace Hinkis as the Italian Princess and Beatriz Stix-Brunell as the Polish Princess.
Powerful Spanish dance by Tierney Heap alongside Nicol Edmonds, Reece Clarke, Ben Ella and Fernando Montano – she was strong and compelling and her dynamic energy was fascinating.
Olivia Cowley and Tristan Dyer were elegant in the Czardas, but the Neapolitan dance by Anna Rose O’Sullivan and Paul Kay was pure elation and Anna Rose was all smiles as she danced with exuberance and cheerfulness in Ashton’s tricky routine.
And hands up for Liam Scarlett for bringing another excellent pas de trois in act 3 as well! Such a bonus treat to get another glimpse of the bouncy trio spreading happiness and enchantment at the palace ball. Plus, let’s start a YuhuiForPrincipal campaign please!
Shoutout to all the costumes too – they really are amazing, in particular the princesses’ ones and the queen’s frocks.
Akane did not convince me as the black swan – her Odile solo was uncertain and even though her fouettés were so many, she moved around the stage way too much. It would have been good to go for less but technically better ones.
On the other hand Federico was an absolute king: what a solo, what a coda! I bloody loved his performance and the elegance of his dancing was spellbinding. His lines, his obstinately rigorous technique, his balances, his perfection… he’s been a charming and divine Prince Siegfried – I hope I’ll have the chance to see him dancing with Lauren as well this season.
In act 4 the fluttering swan ensembles were mesmerising, and I liked Akane’s Odette way more than her Odile: she was good in the portrayal of a fragile, broken white swan and probably the character suited her more than the black swan’s.
At every viewing I’m more and more in love with the last pas de deux: Tchaikovsky’s score is just perfection, so compelling and beguiling, and Liam’s been a genius in bringing it back. I wonder why Anthony Dowell left it out in his production.