Swan Lake, Mariinsky Ballet, Royal Opera House, August 2009


This was a welcome relief from the Mariinsky’s dreadful production of Romeo and Juliet, and the evening belonged to the corps de ballet, which danced magnificently in this 1950 version by Konstantin Sergeyev. Boris Gruzin conducted, giving the dancers the tempos they wanted even though in some cases they were on the slow side. The pas-de-trois in Act I was very well performed by Filipp Stepin, Yana Selina and Valeria Martinyuk, and I thought Stepin was the best male dancer of the evening, musical and with a commanding presence, far better than the prince. Yana Selina was also extremely good, and reappeared in the Neapolitan dance later. Ivan Sitnikov was a commanding presence as von Rothbart, and Viktoria Tereshkina was a fine Odette/Odile, but Evgeny Ivanchenko as her prince was a serious disappointment, insipid, unmusical, and lacking in emotional conviction.

The costumes by Galina Solovyova are magnificent, and the designs by Igor Ivanov work well, except that from the amphitheatre the wheels of the mechanical swans were clearly visible and brightly lit. My only serious complaint about this production is the ubiquitous jester in the court scenes. He was danced by the ungainly Andrei Ivanov, whom I saw doing the same part in Chicago in autumn 2006. Once again he looked terribly pleased with himself, but why does the Mariinsky feel a need to include such a circus act — this is a ballet not a pantomime.

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