Rozhdestvensky's A-plus, totally complete performance
This magnificent Royal Ballet production of Swan Lake is an unforgettable experience. Anthony Dowell’s interpretation of Petipa and Ivanov’s 1895 St Petersburg version set a standard and style that made it a ‘yardstick for others’ (New York Times). Wonderful choreography for the entire company includes the coveted double role of the gentle and vulnerable swan queen Odette and her predatory alter ego, the black swan Odile. It is a challenge relished by principal ballerinas, and is danced here in a spellbinding performance by Natalia Osipova, partnered by Matthew Golding as a powerful and empathetic Prince Siegfried. Tchaikovsky’s glorious score shines, given the full force of the Orchestra of the Royal Opera House conducted by Boris Gruzin, and Yolanda Sonnabend’s detailed, Fabergé-inspired designs evoke the atmosphere of Imperial Russia in the era of the ballet's creation.
This 'Swan Lake' is a 'Swan Lake' for our times, capable of transporting the audience to another world. The magic in the story suddenly takes hold of the viewer. Ballet is not simply a way of telling the story. Rather than gestures asking to be deciphered, the choreographer created large-scale, visionary movements closer to an artistic language of symbols and plays on the whole spectrum of human emotions. It always maintains a relationship of creative tension with its surroundings, especially the music, the poetry of the set, the use of light and colour, the texture of the costumes. A key element of this artistic responsibility is to tell the story precisely but openly, without pinning it down, especially the ending an ending which is in a many-faceted sense a 'deliverance'. Does this mean that the lovers are saved? Is the spell's power broken? Are there other kinds of salvation and deliverance? Perhaps even by death and transfiguration? Ballerina Polina Semionova performs the mythic parts of Odette and Odile (white swan and black swan) with her great partner Stanislav Jermakov. The Zurich Opera House Orchestra is conducted by Russian musical director Vladimir Fedoseyev acclaimed in this repertoire.
This is the second instalment in our series devoted to Tchaikovsky’s three great ballets. The first recording, of The Sleeping Beauty, was praised upon its release, described by a reviewer in American Record Guide as ‘one of the finest I’ve heard’. Here Neeme Järvi and the Bergen Philharmonic Orchestra present the complete version of Swan Lake, with the pre-eminent James Ehnes lending his magic to the violin solos. This was Tchaikovsky’s first full-length ballet, but its premiere in 1877, staged at Moscow’s Bolshoy Theatre, was by no means a resounding success. According to most accounts, the choreography was inept, the shabby sets and costumes were borrowed from other productions, and the orchestral playing was poor. Most ballet companies today base their productions on the 1895 revival by the distinguished choreographer Marius Petipa. Although this revival has been seen as more ‘danceable’, one may argue that the overall cuts and reordering ultimately destroyed Tchaikovsky’s ground plan of drama and tonality. Here we present Tchaikovsky’s original Bolshoy score of twenty-nine numbers across four acts, along with two supplementary numbers which Tchaikovsky provided not long after the premiere.
Signum’s fourth disc with the St Petersburg Philharmonic Orchestra continues their series of the great core Russian repertoire. Featuring the Orchestral suite of one of Tchaikovsky’s most famous ballets Swan Lake, complemented with Rachmaniov’s final composition Symphonic Dances.
Black Swan is a 2010 American psychological thriller film directed by Darren Aronofsky and starring Natalie Portman, Vincent Cassel, and Mila Kunis. The plot revolves around a production of Tchaikovsky's Swan Lake ballet by a prestigious New York City company. The production requires a ballerina to play the innocent and fragile White Swan, for which the committed dancer Nina (Portman) is a perfect fit, as well as the dark and sensual Black Swan, which are qualities better embodied by the new arrival Lily (Kunis). Nina is overwhelmed by a feeling of immense pressure when she finds herself competing for the part, causing her to lose her tenuous grip on reality and descend into a living nightmare.
Tchaikovsky - almost alone - saw the possibilities of specially-composed music for the classical ballet, which was hugely popular in nineteenth-century Russia. His secret was to work closely with his choreographer and link music and dance routines at the outset: this proved vital to the stage action and the final success of the whole production. Swan Lake was the first, and Nutcracker the last of Tchaikovsky’s three ballet scores. Following the success of Sleeping Beauty came the request for another ballet, which eventually formed a double-bill with his opera Yolanta. Tchaikovsky agreed, unusually, that some of the Nutcracker music could be played at an orchestral concert before the ballet opened in St Petersburg. At the concert, an enthusiastic audience encored almost every number.
Agnès Letestu, a feminine and warm Odette, and José Martinez, a convincing, pale, vulnerable prince Siegfried, are the stars of this deeply passionate, 'dream’ version of Swan Lake. Rudolf Nureyev’s interpretation of Tchaikovsky’s lyrical ballet, far from being a clichéd stereotype, is an exposé of astonishingly powerful and recognisable human emotions. Under the inspired and clear-cut musical direction of Vello Pähn, this production is one of the jewels of the Paris Opera Ballet’s repertoire. It brilliantly displays the meticulous precision, technical prowess and pure, unmannered style of the company’s unrivalled female corps de ballet.