Royal Opera House
Friday, 1st June 2018
Swan Lake – 06/01/2018
Odette/Odile: Marianela Nunez
Prince Siegfried: Vadim Muntagirov
Von Rothbart: Bennett Gartside
Benno: Alexander Campbell
Siegfried’s sisters: Francesca Hayward, Akane Takada
Big swans: Claire Calvert, Mayara Magri
Cygnets: Elizabeth Harrod, Meaghan Grace Hinkis, Romany Pajdak, Isabella Gasparini
Evening 4 of 4 at the ballet, and actually 3rd Swan Lake with Queen Nela and Vadream and 5th in total – only three more to go now and I’m crying at this idea already (how can I survive a whole summer with no Royal Ballet at all?).
Swanning into the weekend after an hectic week, Nela was her amazing self yesterday night beautifully leading her mesmerising flock of swans on Tchaikovsky’s magnificent score.
Her incredible performance left me in pieces many times during the four acts, from her immacolate, flawless Odette to her charming and beguiling Odile.
I know I should stop getting surprised by her astonishing amazingness, but she gets better and better with every single performance for real! I don’t know how is that possible, but let’s just take a moment to celebrate her awesomeness. Can’t help but being every time more in awe and being struck to the bone in a million moments of breathless delight: indeed, she normally astonish audiences even just showing up on stage, but yesterday night had to be her best Swan Lake so far.
And sometimes words of praise are just not enough to describe her bursting talent: Nela always instills such love and warmth into the audience, and there’s no wonder Covent Garden loves her to the moon and back.
She was just stupendous and I’d say she’s been amazing, but it would not even be fair:
- she’s been much much more than amazing
- as if she wasn’t always the greatest legend!
I mean, that bewitching Odile solo was to die for – feel quite sorry for Odette, but guys, Odile’s rules and slays! Not to mention, her show stopping and heart crushing fouettés in the coda! Absolute perfection, and paired with her signature baddie-smirk, literally the best thing ever seen. Her balances then… it looked like she would have stayed up there forever, kind of refusing gravity.
Nela’s acting is always pure art, and yesterday night was no exception: showcasing brilliance at its best, she broke hearts in the last act as, broken after seeing Siegfried and Odile through a palace window, she comes back to the lake. I just love that moment in act 4 when Odette joins her swan-maidens and tells the big swans that he swore love to another one: it is so poignant and Nela’s storytelling was clear, strong and so amazingly good – and talking about big swans as well, Claire and Mayara were splendid in their roles, so graceful and elegant.
And who could be Nela’s Siegfried if not Vadim, the master of perfection? He was just so incredible from the beginning until the very end, and it’s special to see how much his and Nela’s partnership has glowed during the last seasons: they absolutely smashed it all, black swan pas de deux, variations and coda in particular, and his acting is delightful – when Siegfried breaks in in the fourth act looking for Odette, Vadim’s facial expression just said it all.
Their act 2 was so very tender and act 4 purely emotional – I actually was chocked up at the first interval already.
The whole A cast was dastardly great and shone bright with Alex, Frankie and Akane leading the stellar and always lovely pas de trois – Alex as Benno was a real star of act 1 indeed. I could cry tears of joy watching Nela and Vadim repeatedly, but those two pas de trois really keep up the game!
As for last week I loved to see Reece and Fumi dancing alongside each other in the first act by the palace gates: I’m sure they’ll be a fabulous principal couple one day, I can see that, they would lead amazingly – perhaps they’ll have the chance in DonQ next year? Really hope so, they deserve that so much. And by the way, can we talk about Reece’s jumps height? The distance between him and the floor was incredible!
Plus, what a dream team for the waltz and polonaise: my eyes were heart-shaped as Matthew, Reece, Marcelino and James flew in their dashing uniforms alongside Tierney, Fumi, Mayara and Meaghan.
Even in act 3 the whole cast looked more at ease than during the first performances: the princesses’ quad squad – Itziar as the Spanish Princess, Melissa as the Hungarian Princess, Yuhui as the Italian Princess and Beatriz as the Polish Princess – was glamorous, with an all-smiley Bea (P.S.: I can feel you gals, we all wanted a prince).
Reece’s Spanish dance is always so on point – which actually made me think that he could be casted as Espada next season, if not as Basil himself – and Tierney led the routine with charisma and amazing twirls.
Even though I only allow myself to breath just after the tambourine catch, the Neapolitan dance was splendidly brought on stage by Marcelino and Meaghan, evidently having fun alongside each other.
Credits to Elizabeth McGorian’s majestic blow as well, she was such a regal queen, and Bennett Gartside was really good as evil Von Rothbart.
It’s been a totally fabulous night of exquisite dancing on Tchaikovsky’s dreamy masterpiece, and I’m every time more impressed by those magnificent sets and costumes. If I think now at how was so worried about Liam not making this production classical enough… it’s really crazy, he absolutely overshadowed Sir Antony Dowell’s Swan Lake.
Chats and smiles for the warmest stage door bound ever, I love our little community of regulars there. It was a bit packed, but everyone there thought the same: audience was so supportive of all the dancers yesterday night, and they simply adore Nela.
And Nela did not even take long to get out and, as always, she was the nicest and most wonderful person chatting and laughing with us all.