SWAN LAKE_The Royal Ballet_ROH.
Odette_Odile; ariane la Nunez,
Prince; Vadim Muntagirov,
Queen Mothe

Royal Ballet’s Swan Lake: ‘It is Truly Stunning’

When Swan Lake premiered in 1877, it got mixed reviews. It’s fortunate for us that it wasn’t consigned to the bin, was reworked and has become one of the most loved ballets of all time… 

Photo: The Royal Ballet/ROH

For me, the ballet has always been a must see, so the chance to see it at the home of The Royal Ballet at Royal Opera House is a treat on two levels.

The story is based on Russian and German folk tales. Odette a princess is turned into a swan by an evil sorcerer, coming back to life at night. A prince, Prince Siegfried falls in love with her. Can he break the curse?  

This production created by the late Liam Scarlett premiered in 2018 and its 2020 revival was cut short when the coronavirus struck.

However good things are worth waiting for and this anticipated production does not disappoint. On the way in I see two delightful little girls dress in their best dresses – it takes me back to my younger years when a trip to the theatre was always a chance to dress up.

Having rushed from work I had to make do with a pork pie, however once in the splendid atrium of the Paul Hamlyn Hall which was buzzing, a glass of Champagne seemed the obvious choice, many of the audience members thought so too.

If you have the time, there’s a range of formal and informal dining including the stunning setting of the Balconies Restaurant with its views over the Paul Hamlyn Hall. 

The production has kept to its classic roots. It is easy to get lost in both Tchaikovsky’s music, the haunting notes of the oboe and the dancing of this beautiful ballet.

The Royal Ballet performs Swan Lake at The Royal Opera House in the West End. Photo: Royal Ballet/ROH

Conductor Gavriel Heine, rightly got a cheer of appreciation. John Macfarlane’s set and costume designs are stunning, much of it was painted by hand. The Royal Palace looks the part with gilt gates, huge candelabra and painted ceiling and the dark foreboding of the lake in Act IV was wonderfully atmospheric.  

The reimagining of Marius Petipa and Lev Ivanov’s choreography by Scarlett is testament to his love of classicism. The pas de trois was danced beautifully by Luca Acri as Benno and Steven McRae’s performance as Prince Siegfried came alive in the Black Swan pas de deux and you realise why he has been cast as the prince. Having recently recovered from a snapped Achilles tendon, it’s a phenomenal return to stage.

Anna Rose O’Sullivan was equally talented as Odette/Odile and her final dance to Tchaikovsky’s well-known score had me teary eyed.

I enjoyed the different national dances of the Spanish, Hungarian, Neapolitan and Polish guests in Act III, but for me it is the sight of the 24 dancers of the corps de ballet as swans moving as one, dazzling in their white feathered tutus that is the magic of Swan Lake. And it is truly stunning.  

Swan Lake is lived streamed to UK cinemas on May 19 and can be seen live the Royal Opera House until May 28. Check local cinema for details. 

Royal Opera House
Tickets: £11-£138
Address: Royal Opera House, Bow Street, WC2E 9DD
Website: roh.org.uk