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I apologise for the length of this post but would be interested to hear others’ opinions.
 

Swan Lake is my favourite ballet.  Maybe the reason is similar to that of a duckling attach itself to its earliest memory, whether it be a human or a wellington boot.  It was the first ballet I ever experienced (at London Festival Ballet), and since then I’ve been hooked.  And the sublime music was the first LP I ever bought. But there are so many Swan Lakes!  I am about to see another next Saturday – I couldn’t resist the Zakharova/Rodkin combination even though this version isn’t my favourite.  It is more abstract, with minimal mime and a rather abrupt ending, but I am sure the dancing will be transcendent and it will probably be my last chance to enjoy beautiful Svetlana in the role, given that she has passed her fortieth birthday.
 

The best version I’ve seen is by (what was then) the Kirov, in their own theatre.  Their scenery was just magical with a very realistic looking lake glimmering in the moonlight.  The whole production was like an exquisite poem, with dancing to match.  I still have the cast list somewhere but at the time didn’t recognise any of the names even though I can read Cyrillic script.  The only thing I didn’t like was the overly happy ending. 
 

I thoroughly enjoyed the Royal Ballet older versions.  Liam Scarlett’s new SL has some strong points (MacFarlane’s scenery is gorgeous) but I find Benno, Siegfried’s friend, irritatingly omnipresent whilst visually resembling some kind of bellboy.  (For this role I prefer the Bolshoi jester who is terrific albeit perhaps less true to the original production.)  I’m not sure about the late C19th costumes; for what is a fairy story I’d prefer the era to be more ambiguous.  And why is Von Rothbart so visible at court, glowering melodramatically at the Prince who must surely be his social superior?  And the ending is tragic but inappropriately uses the music which signifies triumph and positivity where Tchiakovsky changes the swan theme to a major key (suited to an Apotheosis). Then there is 26-year-old Nureyev’s version  in which he dared to change a great deal of the choreography, and for which he and Fonteyn got a legendary 89 curtain calls in Vienna.   This I have only seen on video of course. There have been many, many other productions by different companies all over the world, and I have seen a few of these too but none remains lodged firmly in my memory.  None is perfect but all are worth watching for this Tchaikovsky addict. I never tire of this ballet.
 

Do YOU have a favourite ‘Lebedinoye Ozero’?  And if so, why?

Edited by maryrosesatonapin
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I think your duckling theory may be right, maryrosesatonapin, since my favourite Swan Lake is still my first, i.e. the Royal Ballet's production of the late 1970s with a beautiful Ashton Act I waltz and his choreography for Act IV. Maybe it's because that was when I was first finding dancers I loved and encountering the great ballets for the first time. Or maybe it's because it was beautiful, lyrical and traditional. The current ENB proscenium arch production is very like it, so that is my favourite current production. And I agree with all your comments about the Scarlett SL.

 
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
Edited by bridiem
Can't delete extra space - sorry!
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6 minutes ago, bridiem said:

The current ENB proscenium arch production ... is my favourite current production.

 

Mine too!

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41 minutes ago, bridiem said:

I think your duckling theory may be right, maryrosesatonapin, since my favourite Swan Lake is still my first, i.e. the Royal Ballet's production of the late 1970s with a beautiful Ashton Act I waltz and his choreography for Act IV. 

That is, I believe, my second favourite.  Although I might change my mind after Saturday evening....

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I tired of Swan Lake a long time ago, I wish I could feel the magic of that first performance at the ROH with Margot Fonteyn dancing, it used to be my favourite ballet when it was only performed every 2 or 3 years, but now it's just on too much! I suppose at the moment my favourite production would be the Mariinsky one, it is very traditional and has Ivanov's last act, which I love, though not the happy ending.

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2 hours ago, bridiem said:

The current ENB proscenium arch production is ... my favourite current production.

2 hours ago, RuthE said:

Mine too!

 

And mine! I didn't see the latest run but the earlier one, with Rojo and Lendorf in particular, was sensational!

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My favourite production of a traditional Swan Lake is Sir Peter Wright's for Birmingham Royal Ballet (it wasn't my first or even second so that is not the reason why).  I love Derek Deane's proscenium production for ENB too.

 

My favourite non-traditional production is David Nixon's for Northern Ballet.

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I really enjoy reading people's insights on here so thanks for starting an interesting topic. Unfortunately I am unable to contribute much as I have only seen Liam Scarlett's new Swan Lake with RB, and whilst I have seen others in the past don't have any particular memory of them (apart from generally positive ones!) as this was back when I didn't really know that there were multiple Swan Lakes! 

 

All I can contribute is I thought Scarlett's Swan Lake was great and I enjoyed it very much last year. Particularly the addition of the 'sisters' and a more cohesive plot. I will admit that aside from the Neapolitan dance (which I believe is Ashton anyway?) I thought the solos from the other princesses were a bit underwhelming. And I saw Osipova who didn't do the 32 fouettés which I believe should be compulsory, as it's the one thing I was aware of and looking out for! But small niggles in an otherwise brilliant production. 

 

I see ENB are doing Swan Lake in the round at Albert Hall next summer. Aside from the slightly unfortunate timing as RB is also doing Swan Lake next year (I have sympathy as I imagine ENB were probably in talks with Albert Hall etc before they knew RB's schedule, I wonder if the two companies ever talk to each other about this sort of thing before schedules are fixed) and as it's likely that the RB will probably bankrupt me this year (!) so I'm unlikely to go to ENB's due to repetition/finances but I was curious as to what people thought of the 'in the round' version? Looks like their 'regular' version is highly recommended so will hopefully catch that in a few years!

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2 minutes ago, JNC said:

I see ENB are doing Swan Lake in the round at Albert Hall next summer. Aside from the slightly unfortunate timing as RB is also doing Swan Lake next year (I have sympathy as I imagine ENB were probably in talks with Albert Hall etc before they knew RB's schedule, I wonder if the two companies ever talk to each other about this sort of thing before schedules are fixed) and as it's likely that the RB will probably bankrupt me this year (!) so I'm unlikely to go to ENB's due to repetition/finances but I was curious as to what people thought of the 'in the round' version? Looks like their 'regular' version is highly recommended so will hopefully catch that in a few years!

 

BRB are touring Swan Lake this Spring too!

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4 minutes ago, Jan McNulty said:

 

BRB are touring Swan Lake this Spring too!

 

Ah ok thanks for the info! I knew they were bringing Giselle to London this Autumn but hadn't looked ahead to Spring yet! 

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38 minutes ago, JNC said:

I was curious as to what people thought of the 'in the round' version? 

JNC, I've only seen the BBC film about it - have you?  It has such a wonderful insight about a very young Muntagirov dancing with Daria Klimentová towards the end of her career.  I found it quite touching.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RFU4CBO8D_k&t=1930s

I did see Cinderella in the round earlier this year and although it was cleverly done found it a bit of a circus, so I'm not sure I will go to see Swan Lake in the round but will certainly make a point of seeing the latest ENB version (not having seen theirs for a number of years).

Edited by maryrosesatonapin
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Thanks @maryrosesatonapin - I did watch that documentary a number of years ago but wouldn’t mind a re-watch so appreciate the link! 

 

Ah interesting re Cinderella. I was tempted to go but the price points vs value for money for the Royal Albert Hall seemed more than what I could justify so didn’t go in the end. With the exception of Sleeping Beauty/Romeo Juliet I find ROH’s pricing to be quite good value for money so I doubt I’ll see Swan Lake in the round due to preference for RB and pricing. I do hope ENB do their ‘regular’ Swan Lake but doubt it’ll be for another 2 years minimum due to this production. 

 

@Jan McNulty why is the BRB version your favourite and how does it compare to Scarlett’s (or any other but I’ve chosen Scarlett as I’ve not seen others...)

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it makes sense and it is very elegant.  I love the predominantly black and silver sets.  I love the costumes.  I love its traditionalness.  Sir Peter Wright's productions of the classics always seem to have something special about them and this, to me, is no exception.  (His Sleeping Beauty is my favourite production of that too.)

 

The prologue shows the Prince attending his father's funeral and then moves to the gathering his friends and courtiers have organised.  I suppose also the wonderful performances I have seen over the years.

 

I only saw the new RB one at the live stream and thought it was a good production but, for me, it did not come close to the BRB production.

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2 hours ago, JNC said:

I see ENB are doing Swan Lake in the round at Albert Hall next summer. Aside from the slightly unfortunate timing as RB is also doing Swan Lake next year (I have sympathy as I imagine ENB were probably in talks with Albert Hall etc before they knew RB's schedule, I wonder if the two companies ever talk to each other about this sort of thing before schedules are fixed) and as it's likely that the RB will probably bankrupt me this year (!) so I'm unlikely to go to ENB's due to repetition/finances but I was curious as to what people thought of the 'in the round' version?

 

 

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14 hours ago, Jan McNulty said:

it makes sense and it is very elegant.  I love the predominantly black and silver sets.  I love the costumes.  I love its traditionalness.  Sir Peter Wright's productions of the classics always seem to have something special about them and this, to me, is no exception.  (His Sleeping Beauty is my favourite production of that too.)

 

The prologue shows the Prince attending his father's funeral and then moves to the gathering his friends and courtiers have organised.  I suppose also the wonderful performances I have seen over the years.

 

I only saw the new RB one at the live stream and thought it was a good production but, for me, it did not come close to the BRB production.

 

Thanks Jan. Sadly it doesn’t appear they’re touring this to London next year so I won’t be able to see it, but will keep an eye out for it in future!

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21 hours ago, bridiem said:

I think your duckling theory may be right, maryrosesatonapin, since my favourite Swan Lake is still my first, i.e. the Royal Ballet's production of the late 1970s with a beautiful Ashton Act I waltz and his choreography for Act IV. Maybe it's because that was when I was first finding dancers I loved and encountering the great ballets for the first time. Or maybe it's because it was beautiful, lyrical and traditional. The current ENB proscenium arch production is very like it, so that is my favourite current production. And I agree with all your comments about the Scarlett SL.

 
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   

I agree with every word of this, except that my very first Swan Lake was an early Festival Ballet version from the days when Beryl Grey was artistic director. My second one was RB in the late 70s. But currently ENB proscenium version  is my favourite. I also have great memories of their arena version from around 2013 when I saw Muntagirov and Klimentova together. I am certainly tempted to go next year as the entrance of the swans en masse in Act II is quite a spectacle. But it really is hot on the heals of the RB one - not to mention BRB. 

Edited by AnneL
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6 hours ago, JNC said:

 

Thanks Jan. Sadly it doesn’t appear they’re touring this to London next year so I won’t be able to see it, but will keep an eye out for it in future!

 

They're performing it in both Birmingham and Southampton, if that's any use.  Neither are terribly difficult to get to from London.

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I don’t yet have a favourite production of Swan Lake but I shall try to see BRB in Southampton as I haven’t seen it. I have caved in and bought a ticket for the Bolshoi next week - I love the music even if it’s not my favourite production. I would be interested to know What the Bolshoi had before the Grigorovich- was it the same as the Kirov?

 

i would like to see the Ratmansky production.

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The Ratmansky production for La Scala is my favourite but I would like to see it again in a better environment than the Paris conference centre when it toured there a few years ago. For those who like the 70s RB production, it has a similar 'flavour'. Alastair Macauley had the same reaction to it - he described it as being like the  Swan Lake  of his childhood memories. The best Rothbart costume I've seen, not to mention the demi pointe work,  attention to the narrative and the mime, and the lovely swan costumes, the traditional apotheosis and, oh yes, a tipsy tutor

 

John Neumeier's version (Illusions like Swan Lake )for Hamburg ballet is wonderful. Complete reimagining based on the life of Ludwig ll of Bavaria aka The Swan King.

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I share Janet’s endorsement of Sir Peter Wright's production ( not forgetting the contribution made by Galina Samsova). Not only is it beautiful to look at, but the narrative is told simply with the prologue showing the funeral of Siegfried’s father both an imperative reason that he marry and an explanation for his restless, melancholy. I had seen several productions prior to this, and quite a few since, but it does stand out for it’s all round qualities. Fortunately, BRB have had, and continue to have, dancers who can transform the production into a memorable ballet going experience.

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I went to the Prom featuring Swan Lake tonight, and was surprised to find a piece of music - at the end of the Act II section - which I'm pretty sure I'd never heard before.  It was apparently the Allegro from the "Pas d'action" (which I guess is probably better known as the Act II pas de deux.  Is anyone familiar with it?

 

If I have a moment, I'll try and find a link to it on the BBC website.  This may or may not be it, but the website is currently in 1990s HTML mode :( 

https://www.bbc.co.uk/proms/events/play/m0007cbn

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17 hours ago, alison said:

I went to the Prom featuring Swan Lake tonight, and was surprised to find a piece of music - at the end of the Act II section - which I'm pretty sure I'd never heard before.  It was apparently the Allegro from the "Pas d'action" (which I guess is probably better known as the Act II pas de deux.  Is anyone familiar with it?

 

If I have a moment, I'll try and find a link to it on the BBC website.  This may or may not be it, but the website is currently in 1990s HTML mode :( 

https://www.bbc.co.uk/proms/events/play/m0007cbn

 

Rudolf Nureyev used this coda at the end of the Act 2 adagio for a solo for Siegfried to express his joy, this is on the Vienna State Ballet DVD where he dances with Margot Fonteyn,  I think it was in the original score but not certain.

Edited by Beryl H
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Thanks, Beryl.  It sounded really out of place, to me at least.

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My favourite Swan Lakes are the Peter Wright and Anthony Dowell productions.

 

Wright's production I prefer slightly more. I think the prologue is a good idea for establishing the reason why Siegfried is melancholy. The ending of Act IV is what pushes it ahead of Dowell's production for me. Jenni carrying the dead Siegfried from the lake as we see the spirits of Siegfried and Odette United forever. Magical!

 

The Dowell one I have watched numerous times since its 1987 premiere. I guess I must be in a minority for loving the swan dresses, I really think they give the impression of feathers. anyway I was watching it on DVD last night and today I had a little surprise awaiting me.

 

Boarding a busy train at Hammersmith carrying my heavy shopping,  I stood myself by the door, a tall gentleman who boarded the train at the same time asked me if I didn't want to sit down (there was  one available seat), I looked up at him to explain I was only going one stop, and who should it be? Anthony Dowell! 

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