Swan Lake – English National Ballet: London Coliseum, 7 August 2012

Truly, madly, lakely

Please Esteban, put your tights back on. Begona Cao looks worried during ENB’s Swan Lake. Photo by Ian Gavan/Getty Images Europe

Quite why Peter Farmer decided to dress Rothbart as a clothes line for dustbin liners, heaven knows. The wicked wizard is what Odette’s purity is measured against so portraying the scarey swanmeister as an ridiculous buffoon weakens her predicament and turns Siegfried’s torment into naive gullibility. The two lovers’ jump into the lake seems more a protest at their own daftness than a triumph over evil.

That aside, English National Ballet’s Swan Lake is a thoroughly decent production. Once past the innapropriately Giselle-ish peasant frocks of Act I the rest of the costumes are lovely and the staging simple but luxurious. And, if you enjoy the sight of tutus popping out from lashings of dry ice, this is the show for you.

It was good to hear some of the music usually excised from Act I, much of it pretty entertaining, and there was a wonderful extra solo of lilting elegance thrown in for Siegfried, danced with yearning melancholy by the excellent Esteban Berlanga.

Begoña Cao was a suitably desirable Odette and enough of a tease to pull off Odile but seemed to lack a bit of stamina towards the end of the notoriously difficult ‘Black Swan’ pas de deux.

The female corps were superb, particularly in the Lakeside scenes, and the ENB orchestra pumped up the emotion with a rich, swelling sound. If only they could drag the camp out of Rothbart; even when he lay down to die he appeared to sweep the dust away from his rocky pyre in order to prevent his hair from getting dirty.

Gerard Davis

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