Swan Lake is something I have only caught snippets of on the TV or in films like Black Swan, so I was eager to watch the full length ballet in Liverpool Empire Theatre on Tuesday night.
The ballet is the epitome of romance and drama. The premise is simple; Princess Odetta (Alina Cojocaru) is kidnapped by a wicked sorcerer Rothbart (James Streeter)- a half human and half bird. He transforms her into a swan and she is bound to stay with him on the lakeside for the rest of her days.
Prince Siegfried (Alejandro Virelles) has come of age and is celebrating his birthday in the palace- it's time that he should be considering marriage according to those around him and the pressure begins to mount.
To escape, he goes to the lakeside to experiment with his new crossbow given to him as a gift by the Queen for his birthday, and sees Odetta. He instantly falls in love with her beauty and he swears to her that he will always be faithful.
The Queen then presents the Prince with six princesses to choose one as his bride, none of whom he is interested in because he has given his heart to Odetta. Then Rothbart arrives with his daughter Odile who is disguised at Odetta and naturally, he chooses her.
When he finds out the truth, he goes to Odetta to beg for forgiveness. After a fight ensues between the prince and Rothbart, Odetta throws herself into the lake as she cannot cope with the conflict any longer and the prince follows her. The strength of their love destroys Rothbart's evil spell and upon the dawn of a new day- they are bound eternally by their feelings for one another.
Tchaikovsky's unforgettable music was performed by the English National Ballet's full orchestra- which we could see clearly from our seats in the lower circle. If you are booking tickets, I would advise you to opt for some higher placed seats to be able to witness their talent as well as those on stage.
The set was quite simply beautiful- the great hall boasted chandeliers, ornate carvings and grand thrones, but the most captivating of all the sets was the lake. Puffs of smoke poured onto the stage against the backdrop of the moon and the overhanging trees. It was haunting.
The swan princesses performed with military precision in their scenes. They were elegant and graceful, white and pure in stark contrast to their gloomy surroundings, which was very dramatic to watch.
The scenes in the great hall and palace introduced a different pace to those by the lake- with a more upbeat musical backdrop.
The lead role of Odette/ Odile is clearly a challenging one- in the earlier scenes Alina Cojocaru has to make the audience believe that she is honest and innocent, compared to the latter scenes where she has to convey an erotic and evil side to her personality. I may be no expert in this arena, but I could see that it must have been difficult to make the shift- something Cojocaru did effortlessly. It was evident from watching the performance that it takes great discipline to make a profession in ballet, which was very admirable to witness.
Overall, I you have not seen this- I would suggest you book tickets- the themes are universal and can be enjoyed by all. From aspiring ballerinas to couples looking for a little more culture in their lives, the audience was filled with people from all walks of life- but we are all routing for the same thing- everlasting love.
Tagged in Liverpool Empire Theatre