Swan Lake, English National Ballet, ENB, London Coliseum, August 2012

The English National Ballet’s production of Swan Lake is hard to beat, and it was beautifully danced, so don’t miss it. Wonderful designs by Peter Farmer with clever lighting by Howard Harrison, give a misty otherworldiness to the background in Acts I and III. That other world is where Act II and IV take place, and the stage and lighting effects give all four acts a magical quality.

Von Rothbart, ENB image/ Annabel Moeller

On the first night of the present run, Vadim Muntagirov was unavailable as Prince Siegfried, and was replaced by Zdenek Konvalina, making a fine debut in the role. He danced with great clarity, and was brilliantly partnered by Erina Takahashi as Odette/Odile. She danced a graceful Odette with beautiful arm movements, and her more assertive Odile had enormous poise and almost unearthly control. It was a lovingly lucid performance. James Streeter was a mendaciously powerful Von Rothbart with terrific stage presence, and I loved the short prologue where we see him capturing the princess and turning her into a swan. The transformation was deftly accomplished — she disappears behind his wings and as he rushes across stage the swan queen appears.

Siegfried and Odette, image Arnaud Stephenson

The corps danced beautifully throughout, and in Act I the pas-de-douze was a delight and in the pas-de-quatre I particularly liked Adela Ramirez and Junor Souza. Lovely cygnets in Act II, the Spanish dance and Czardas in Act III were enormous fun, and in the Neapolitan dance Barry Drummond was a revelation, showing superb musicality. Jane Howarth made a charming queen, and Michael Coleman a wonderfully bumbling tutor.

Siegfried and Odile, image Arnaud Stephenson

Conducting by Gavin Sutherland breathed life and liveliness into Tchaikovsky’s wonderful music, though some tempi seemed unduly slow. Altogether this is a super production and was given a terrific performance by the company, so come to London and get a ticket. Don’t be put off by the Olympic Games; the West End is nowhere near as crowded as was predicted, and this is a lovely treat for early August.

Performances continue until August 11 — for details click here.

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