I’ve been finding this thread fascinating to read. I have one question about the production (I didn’t buy a programme so it may have been explained): does Odette’s sacrifice at the end break the spell for the rest of the swans?
I saw 2 casts: Yasmine Naghdi/Nehemiah Kish (back in May) & Natalia Osipova/Matthew Ball (the matinee performance last week). I don’t typically write my thoughts as I enjoy reading others more, but here I am.
I have to confess, I’ve seen multiple Swan Lake couples over the years & have never been moved by Odette/Siegfried, regardless of the dancers (even counting clips I’ve watched online). I’ve never been able to work out if I just have a disconnect to the story or if I just haven’t seen the right performance.
I’m also not particularly fussy about choreography, but there were quite a few things I really enjoyed in Scarlett’s production; the costumes & sets for one thing, but also the prologue, the inclusion of Rothbart into the royal court (interesting dynamics), the entirety of act 3 & most of Act 4. I still haven’t fully made up my mind about the ending but I’m inclined to say I actually quite liked it. I’m still mulling things over weeks after seeing my first show.
I know I said I don’t find Swan Lake emotional, but I do always tear up at that final piece of music, without fail. There’s just something about it (the entrance music for Myrthe in Giselle has the same effect on me).
On another music related note, I dislike how slowly the pas de deux in act 2 has been taken this time around, something I think has already been noted, so perhaps I’m not alone. This always sets my teeth on edge (just another personal issue!). I saw a clip of the act 2 pas de deux from the cinema screening & despite beautiful dancing I just can’t move past the tempo.
My only other general note was just to add my agreement with regards to Benno/Siegfried & the amount of dancing for the former (& lack of dancing for the latter). I do wonder if the character of Siegfried is the reason I’ve never been emotionally invested in this Ballet. He’s a rather flat character. This version made no attempt to flesh him out.
So, my thoughts on the couples I saw:
Naghdi was utterly beautiful. Unfortunately I missed her final act as the heat in the auditorium made me feel terribly unwell, but I’m glad I managed to see her act 2 & 3. I do find a taller dancer works best for me as Odette/Odile & Naghdi had exquisite lines. I found her Odette particularly vulnerable. If you’d told me this was her debut run as O/O I wouldn’t have believed you.
I don’t want to add to the criticism of Kish but I found his dancing disappointing. That said, he partnered Naghdi well.
I was very impressed with Matthew in the matinee performance. He partnered Natalia extremely well and still gave as much characterisation to the role as I felt possible. I found his dancing very lyrical. I couldn’t help but recall his Lensky during one of his brief solos.
I’m probably in the minority here, as after reading previous reviews before the performance I had some reservations, but I didn’t find Natalia overpowered Matthew in the pas de deux. I do think her interpretation of the role is a bit wilder than others (& thus not to everyone’s taste), & I always love how she gives everything on stage, but I also think she’s softened in this role compared to the DVD performance.
Matthew (Ball) completely held his own. It’s unfortunate Natalia slipped on her entrance (looked painful) & I thought act 3 started tentatively due to this, which was understandable. I also thought the pique turns started off looking less impressive but the speed she got up to ultimately made up for this, & I didn’t miss the fouettés.
Despite having said all that, I don’t think Natalia’s O/O has the same emotion as her Giselle (where, funnily enough, I tend to prefer shorter dancers...). I think her Odette is too human like.
Overall it was a very enjoyable performance(s) & I’m glad the choreography exceeded my expectations. Interesting to read a DVD will be released, presumably of the Nuñez/Muntagirov cast (I spent a good 5 minutes wondering why it would be released so far away before I remembered 2019 was next year...!). I’m impressed & very happy the ROH release so many DVDs.
(Apologies for any grammatical errors above. I typed this up on my phone & haven’t read it through as I’m too tired!)