Reviewed by Matthew Forrest
Opening Night verdict ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️
Director, Calos Acosta states in the programme notes “Swan Lake, ballet’s greatest
love story.” A statement few would argue against, however it would be fair to say that this
production is that and oh so much more!
The story is that of Prince Siegfried (Mathias Dingman), who, when out hunting with his
friend Benno, (Enrique Bejarano Vidal), witnesses a white swan transform into a beautiful
Princess. named Odette ( Momoko Hirata). Siegfried, captivated by her beauty, falls in love
with Odette, however we learn that the young woman and her friends are under a spell
cast by the evil magician, Baron von Rothbart (Jonathan Payn).
A masked ball is held for the young Prince’s birthday where he meets Rothbart’s daughter,
Odile ( Hirata in a duel role), who looks remarkably like Odette. It’s a plan by the magician
in order for his daughter to marry the Prince. However, as you may expect the wicked
warlock’s scheme doesn’t quite pan out.
There is a great deal to admire about this production despite an initial slow start with the
opening act, set at the Prince’s court. It’s a laboured opening with the most of the standout
moments coming from the performance of Enrique Bejarano Vidal, as Benno, who
commanded every inch of the Lowry stage.
However, from Act II, it’s simply outstanding. During this sequence we are introduced to
the gaggle of swans at the banks of a hauntingly moonlit lake. Here we are treated to
some exquisite routines played out to some of Tchaikovsky’s best known and most
treasured music. It felt a privilege to hear such rich, vibrant music played by a full
orchestra, who were flawless throughout tonight’s performance.
Momoko Hirata as Odette/Odile is at the top of her game, she made seemingly impossible
movements look effortless. The numerous fouetté en tournant drawing several shouts of
“bravo!” from knowledgeable, enthusiastic audience members. The numerous pas de deux between the Prince and Odette/Odile are gorgeous and wonderfully choreographed. Their duet during Act III at the castle ballroom, is expertly put together and a real showcase for Hirata and Dingman, set against the backdrop of a fabulous grand, gothic ballroom.
As well as the exquisite routines the costumes throughout look fantastic, from the iconic
swan’s outfits to the rich, glamorous costumes of the Act III ball, with lots of bold red and
brown colours, which makes the arrival of Odile and her father decked out in black all the
more striking. Add into the mix the stunning set design for the two interior castle
sequences as well as the enchanting and ethereal lakeside set design and visually it looks
The final act is simply outstanding, and one I don’t wish to spoil, However it opens with a
truly breathtaking sequence, that drew loud audible gasps of delight from the audience
and is certainly one of my favourite moments from nearly 10 years of reviewing. The final
act is a fitting showcase for all involved with the Prince and Odette performing their final
sequence together, whilst the swan’s around were held still in their position, pure focus etched on their faces, making it seem effortless, it really was a sight to behold.
There are a few minor quibbles, I wasn’t a fan of the video imagery of Odette used during
Act III, it just didn’t look right, and this is one very minor but throughout the ball sequences
the Prince would sit on a chair which very much resembled a camping chair you’d seen
scattered around the pyramid stage at Glastonbury. It seemed such a shame that
everything else looks so exquisite, that this chair stands out like a sore thumb. Only a
small detail I know, but once I noticed it I couldn’t unsee it!
The is an elegant, graceful production, telling a timeless story through beautiful
performances and the glorious music of Tchaikovsky, a true master of his craft. On the
basis of tonight’s show, you can more than see why Swan Lake is an endearing and
mesmerising piece of work and one that with productions like this, will always stand the
test of time.
Swan Lake is at the Lyric Theatre, Lowry until the 4th March. Tickets available here.