Royal Opera House
Wednesday, 6th June 2018
Swan Lake – 06/06/2018
Odette/Odile: Marianela Nunez
Prince Siegfried: Vadim Muntagirov
Von Rothbart: Bennet Gartside
Benno: Tristan Dyer
Siegfried’s sisters: Claire Calvert, Beatriz Stix-Brunell
Big swans: Melissa Hamilton, Itziar Mendizabal
Cygnets: Ashley Dean, Meaghan Grace Hinkis, Anna Rose O’Sullivan, Gemma Pitchley-Gale
Just one more assessment to go – and then it’s gonna be all things MacMillan working on my dissertation thesis until next February. When deadlines are stressing you out there’s no better way to “lake your day” than another round of Liam’s Swan Lake starring the legend herself as the Swan Queen.
I’ll never get enough of this gem of a theatre’s view, and I’ll never get enough of watching all those incredibly talented dancers on stage: sometimes, when I am getting home on the tube after a particularly good performance (and aren’t them all?) I realise how lucky I am to be witnessing the history of ballet in the making.
And when it’ll be written down, I’ll volunteer as a tribute to describe the queen of all queen’s artistry. Well, at least I’ll be trying to, because there’s that something about her (about her Odette/Odile for sure, and the world will experience that next week during the cinema relay) that you just can’t see in anyone else. A sort of combination of glorious, mesmerising warmth and an array of emotions melted with pitch perfect technique which is just ‘too Nela’ to be described.
She never, never, never disappoints, and she does not always burst with talent, but also with humility: the way she smiles broadly and looks up to the very last row of the Upper Amphitheatre, Slips, Balcony and Stalls during a stage call is just so real and pure. She’s not just the most incredible ballerina, but a wonderful human being as well… which is kind of fun because you wouldn’t even say she’s human when you get to see her dancing, perhaps standing in a perfect balance for those which seem like hours, or jumping as she wanted to defeat every law of physics. You know, Nela does not like gravity at all.
Indeed, she was heartstoppingly perfect both as the White and Black Swan, channeling her inner goddess of dance for a performance to remember. One day she will stand alone as THE ballerina assoluta herself.
For Odile’s big break she mastered her usual impeccable fouettés, obviously smirking like a villain donning it that touch of mischievousness which makes her black swan so characteristic. After such a glorious black swan, I can’t blame Siegfried for falling under her spell, I would have gone for Odile as well!
I feel blessed and honoured every single time I get the chance to admire such talent – I always get out of the theatre in complete disbelief, and Nela is such a swan. I couldn’t imagine anyone else so perfect to lead the Company to the lake.
Vadim partnered her with his usual perfection: the Royal Ballet’s golden boy flew high as Prince Siegfried, and their pas de deux were amazing and utterly entrancing.
Their storytelling is always so clear, in particular in act 4’s duo, when you can exactly see in Nela’s face that feeling of ‘no point in living anymore’ and in Vadim’s all the distress at her sacrifice to defeat Von Rothbart’s spell (special mention for the fourth act’s ouverture, that score is simply magical, and by the way, having Kessels to conduct is always the best of treats – you can actually feel the difference when other conductors are leading the orchestra).
Predictably, my eyes turned heart-shaped as soon as I see Matthew and Reece together on stage leading act 1’s waltz and polonaise – alongside Ashley Dean, Isabella Gasparini, Tierney Heap, Anna Rose O’Sullivan, Luca Acri and William Bracewell – they really are the Company’s bright future.
In act 1’s ensembles Leticia Dias stood out, partnered by David Donnelly, with her beaming smile and infinite arabesques, while Siegfried’s younger sisters, performed by Claire and Bea, were lovely in the pas de trois along with Tristan Dyer’s Benno. Dyer was quite good in all his routines, but I actually could not feel the same things as with Alex, Marcelino and James in the same role.
Act 2’s swan scene is a literal dream, with a flawless corp de ballet looking stunning beside Macfarlane’s incredible designs. The white acts’ set is the more abstract among the ballet’s but it poignantly convey the lakeside environment and it’s rather atmospheric.
I did not enjoy very much Itziar Mendizabal and Melissa Hamilton’s Big Swans – I felt like they were not a clever pair, as they are so different in lines and movement.
Back to the palace for the royal ball, I was happy to finally see Mayara Magri as the Spanish Princess! She donned it the right latin charisma, and she was a delight alongside Tierney Heap’s Hungarian Princess, Elizabeth McRae’s Italian Princess and Anna Rose’s Polish Princess.
And those tutus… aren’t those tutus just amazing? Liam and John are such a winning team!
For the Spanish dance, Itziar Mendizabal led fellow David Donnelly, Téo Dubreuil, Kevin Emerton and Tomas Mock, opening the character dances than then went on with Romany Pajdak and Paul Kay’s Czardas (even though Charlotte Tonkinson and Joseph Sissens shone brighter that the lead couple in the routine), Yuhui and Luca Acri’s Neapolitan Dance (always uplifting and brilliantly performed) and Grace Blundell and Nicol Edmond’s Mazurka.