Skip to main content Skip to footer site map

Review: SWAN LAKE, London Coliseum

Derek Deane's 1997 production makes a welcome return to the Coliseum

Review: SWAN LAKE, London Coliseum

Review: SWAN LAKE, London Coliseum This 1997 production of the Russian classic was created by Derek Deane and remains a jewel in English National Ballet's crown. After the occasionally muddy narrative in their tired Nutcracker, this is a Swan Lake with clear, emotional storytelling and magical choreography.

In telling the story of the battle between good and evil of Prince Siegfried and Swan Queen Odette against the evil sorcerer Rothbart, Brazilian Lead Principal Fernanda Oliveira took the role of Odette and Odile, showing deft distinction between the roles. Her Odette was soft and delicate, with huge expressiveness, particularly in her neck and fingers. Her vulnerability was touchingly clear to see.

In contrast, her Odile was ruthlessly seductive, with every move executed with clean steeliness and determination. She showed vivid musicality in all her movements, from the double pirouettes in Odile's fouettés and the thrilling executions of balance in the BLACK SWAN pas de deux.

Francesco Gabriele Frola was on fine form as he danced Prince Siegfried with melancholy elegance, demonstrating some soaring grand jetés and the lightest of landings. Their partnership moved from tender vulnerability with Odette, coming alive with a much more purposeful, sexual excitement with Odile.

James Streeter is no stranger to bringing huge character to the stage and his Rothbart occasionally verged on pantomime, but demonstrated huge energy and purpose. The national dances showed both poise and fine technique, with an eye-catchingly provocative Spanish dance.

Deane's choreography is challenging; retaining Marius Petipa and Lev Ivanov's set pieces, but leaving no room for error. The work from the corps de ballet, led by Precious Adams and Emily Suzuki, is almost flawless, moving as one with incredible elegance and poise. The suicide of Odette and Siegfried remains somewhat underwhelming, as they simply seem to run over a small rock at the side of the stage, leaving the emotional heft of the situation to the swans, who respond with heart-breaking delicacy.

The late Peter Farmer's sumptuous and fairy-tale like designs combine beautifully with Howard Harrison's atmospheric lighting, which moves from the ghostly darkness of the lakeside to the warm, party atmosphere of the national dances. The smaller details are also lovely, from the manic twitching of Rothbart's minions as they sit by his feet, to the incredibly bored reaction of Siegfried as his father tries to engage him with his potential wives.

Tchaikovsky's score never fails to surprise and impress and it remains profoundly moving. Alexander Ingram conducted with vigour, pace and delicacy, teasing out lightness and emotional heft.

It will be interesting to see what Aaron Watkin, ENB's incoming artistic director, does with the company. Having lost Joseph Caley, Isaac Hernández and Jeffrey Cirio recently, he surely must focus on male principals. With this Swan Lake, there seems no immediate cause for alarm, as the quality of this production and its dancers will keep audiences hooked.

Swan Lake is at the London Coliseum until 22 January

Photo Credit: Laurent Liotardo

Review: WASTED, Lyric Hammersmith Photo
Running at around 50 minutes, it’s snappy and positively Gen-Z in pace and subject. Fernandes crafts a script that wanders from deliciously colloquial to slightly expository, but remains solid throughout. Mundane conversations about parties and cleaning rotas act as the foundation for the pair’s bond, which is bound to be tested and tried once Jacob’s actions are revealed. At its core, it’s a story of friendship and loyalty camouflaged as a crime drama exploring the stigmatisation of sexual violence.

Photos: First Look At English National Operas THE DEAD CITY (DIE TOTE STADT) Photo
See production images for the English National Opera's The Dead City (Die tote Stadt), running 25 March - 8 April 2023.

Review: OF MICE AND MEN, Birmingham Rep Photo
John Steinbeck's 1937 novel, set in California during the Great Depression, may be a period piece, but the parallels with current life in the UK are unmistakable. Dealing with themes of poverty, displacement, prejudice and the desperation for independence, Of Mice and Men makes a timely return to the Birmingham Rep stage in this new production directed by Iqbal Khan.

The story of Sweeney Todd first appeared on the stage in London in 1847 at Britannia Theatre, Hoxton, in a melodrama, 'The String of Pearls', based on a popular “penny dreadful” serialised story.

From This Author - Aliya Al-Hassan

Aliya Al-Hassan is UK Managing Editor of BroadwayWorld. A London-based theatre critic and journalist, she has a life-long passion for the arts, with a focus on theatre and opera. She is a... (read more about this author)

Photos: First Look at THEY DON'T PAY? WE WON'T PAY! at Mercury TheatrePhotos: First Look at THEY DON'T PAY? WE WON'T PAY! at Mercury Theatre
March 24, 2023

All new production photos have been released for Mercury Theatre's production of They Don't Pay? We Won't Pay! by Dario Fo and Franca Rame. Check out the photos below!

Guildhall School Announces Summer Events Season 2023Guildhall School Announces Summer Events Season 2023
March 24, 2023

This summer, Guildhall School of Music & Drama presents a varied programme of events for the public to enjoy, including concerts, drama productions, opera and jazz.

Tickets from £9 for BLANKET BAN at Southwark Playhouse BoroughTickets from £9 for BLANKET BAN at Southwark Playhouse Borough
March 24, 2023

Following a SOLD OUT Edinburgh Festival Fringe run, as winners of the Underbelly and New Diorama Untapped Award, hit-show Blanket Ban transfers to Southwark Playhouse Borough.

David Hare Thinks Musicals are 'Strangling' Traditional TheatreDavid Hare Thinks Musicals are 'Strangling' Traditional Theatre
March 24, 2023

Sir David Hare has lamented the ‘squatting’ of musicals at theatres such as the Royal Court and Wyndham’s which were once home to ‘straight plays’.

BBC Suspends Proposed Closure of the BBC SingersBBC Suspends Proposed Closure of the BBC Singers
March 24, 2023

The BBC Singers, based at the BBC's Maida Vale Studios in London, have now been granted a temporary reprieve as alternative funding models are sought. The choir performs across the UK and around the world, making annual appearances at the BBC Proms. Most of its performances air on BBC Radio 3.