Music by Tchaikovsky
Birmingham Royal Ballet
The Lowry, 19 September 2012
Rather different to most others, this production of Swan Lake, an altogether more melancholy and sombre, you could almost say sinister staging of the classic ballet.
Some of this may be due to the influence of Aronofsky’s film Black Swan, and black was certainly the predominant colour of the costumes and sets, save in Act 3 where Northern Renaissance colours, brocades of red and gold and (yes) black too were very much in evidence. A Lucas Cranach painting come to life, it looked like.
But in truth you really don’t need to look further than the story and the score to discover a tragic tone. If Tchaikovsky’s music is never dissonant, it is often disquieting.
The swans and cygnets were a much more positive force in this retelling than usual, intriguingly enough, and were emphatically on the side of the lovers. They were like wayward naiads, not entirely under the control of the evil Baron.
The dance was perfect throughout, uniformly outstanding, always delightful. Nothing else need be said as regards that department.
At the end you were led to believe that, though the prince may be dead, he and his beloved are in a better place. It is as though Epicurus were wrong when he said ‘Death is absence’, as though Nick Flynn had never written Some Ether.
I could quite happily see this version of Swan Lake again, just right now, and am sure I’d be as enthralled and enchanted as the first time.