Reviewed by Nikki Cotter
Opening Night verdict ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️
Set to Tchaikovsky’s instantly recognisable score, played live by English National Ballet Philharmonic, Swan Lake is perhaps the most loved ballet of all time. From stunning choreography to sumptuous sets, it really is ballet’s greatest love story and remains a firm audience favourite, performed regularly by ballet companies across the world.
English National Ballet’s production, choreographed by Derek Deane is as delightful as any I’ve seen. Split into four acts Swan Lake tells the dramatic and devastating love story of Prince Siegfried and Odette; exquisitely danced by Ken Saruhashi and Fernanda Oliveira.
After joyous birthday celebrations, Prince Siegfried realises a forced marriage may soon be his fate, something he both dreads and fears. He escapes to the lake for a spot of hunting where he first sees the magnificent Odetta, a captivating Princess who has been cursed to live as a swan by the evil sorcerer Rothbart (Junor Souza). The attraction is immediate as Prince Siegfried falls hopelessly in love with the majestic Princess.
As in all good stories, the course of true love never did run smooth and that’s before you add falling in love with a cursed Swan Princess to the mix, thus follows a captivating and dramatic story, told impeccably by this sensational company.
Ken Saruhashi is superb as Prince Siegfried, entranced entirely by the stunning Odetta, he is gentle and pure, ensuring this love story feels entirely believable. Fernanda Oliveira shines as Odetta, delicate and light she mesmerises completely. In contrast to her delicate Odetta is devious Odile, strong and athletic; her storytelling is wonderful. This pairing is a special one, it feels effortless and clean, while their moving pas de deux is greeted with rapturous applause.
No Swan Lake is complete of course without the famous Cygnets, perhaps one of the most iconic sights in any ballet. ENB’s stunning delivery does not disappoint, each special first glimpse drawing gasps from the audience, such is the power of the visual presented before us. Perfectly in-sync their performance is pure joy.
ENB’s storytelling is clear, although not a word is spoken there’s no mistaking the drama unfolding before us. Peter Farmers design adding further richness and depth to the piece.
This is a ballet for all, young and old alike. Dramatic, beautiful, and enchanting in equal measure.
English National Ballet’s Swan Lake is on at Manchester’s Palace theatre until Saturday 8th October, tickets available here.
Images by Laurent Liotardo