English National Ballet Swan Lake: WOW, the best I’ve seen!
I have been very fortunate to have had the pleasure of seeing the ballet Swan Lake performed a number of times at different venues and I have to take my hat off to the English National Ballet and Liverpool Empire last night – WOW that was the best performance I have ever seen!
Where to start … I’ll assume that everyone knows the story … boy needs to marry, no one is suitable that his mum suggests, boy meets girl (who isn’t suitable) and falls in love, boys introduces girl to mum but it’s not actually her, they run away and presumably live happy ever after. Sorry if I’ve ruined the ending for you 😉. Within the story there are some key characters; the prince played by Francesco Gabriele Frola was outstanding, his energy and leg positioning was superb, a joy to watch and equally Erina Takahashi who played Odette was stunning, her pirouettes were something to behold! To be honest all the dancers could be praised individually, I couldn’t fault them. The very famous corps be ballet was beautiful, perfectly timed. I also loved the ‘quiver’ (I’m not sure of the official name for that particular dance move) but it was sublime! The evil sorcerer Rothbart, played by James Streeter, was brilliant and his costume … A- MAZE-ING! It flowed and created a vision around him that is too difficult to put into words … simply breathtaking.
This leads me nicely on to the costumes and stage. I will start running out of adjectives soon as again it was just perfect. We saw the Russian National Ballet perform Swan Lake back in February and their costumes were stunning and exactly what you would expect with crystals on everything that caught the light and made it special. These costumes were, in my opinion, on a different level. The swans were all simply stunning with extra detail for Odette to make her stand out and the tutus were perfect for the ‘quiver’ which all the dancers honed. The outfits for the guests at the ball were again subtle in their detail, yet combined with the dancing created exactly the right atmosphere and feel.
The stage was stunning, creating the perfect ambience for each scene. In what I think was a first for me, there were two breaks in the show for scene changes, the first of which wasn’t really explained and unfortunately broke the magic of the atmosphere a little as people got up and moved, turned their phones on etc. but it was worth it! The two that stood out the most were the ball room … it truly made you feel like you were looking into an enormous room with floor to celling arched windows that faded into the distance creating the illusion of so much space! The second was the last scene where there are trees surrounding the stage. The stage featured ramps at the back and a plinth for Rothbart to command from making his presence when up there – along with the immense costume – quite intimidating.
I must also add that the story telling is probably the clearest that I have seen as I think ballets can sometimes be difficult to follow if you aren’t familiar with it. The orchestra also need commending – just brilliant.
As you can probably guess, I highly recommend if you have the chance to see this production you go. I don’t think it’s one I’ll ever forget. English National Ballet, with Swan Lake, are back with a bang!
The production is currently touring the UK https://www.ballet.org.uk/production/swan-lake/.
For more shows at the Liverpool Empire visit: https://www.atgtickets.com/venues/liverpool-empire/