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Timeless & Enchanting: A Review of Boston Ballet’s Swan Lake

Elizabith Costey ‘16/ Emertainment Monthly Staff Writer

Ava Maag ‘16/ Emertainment Monthly Staff Writer

Back by popular demand after a record-breaking world premiere in October 2014, Boston Ballet enchants audiences with Mikko Nissinen’s Swan Lake.

Photo Credit: Gene Schiavone, courtesy of Boston Ballet
Photo Credit: Gene Schiavone, courtesy of Boston Ballet

Swan Lake is one of the most popular and beloved classical ballets ever created, and for good reason. The story is romantic and timeless, the costumes are stunning, and the setting is breathtaking. It allows designers to construct an opulent world within the framework of a classic ballet. Despite its traditional roots, Boston Ballet presents Swan Lake with a modern vivacity. This production honors the spirit of the ballet’s 1895 premiere by the Imperial Ballet at the Maryinsky Theatre. Mikko Nissinen reinvents Swan Lake’s choreography to better showcase the vast talent of Boston Ballet’s dancers, appealing to a modern audience.

Photo Credit:Gene Schiavone, courtesy Boston Ballet
Photo Credit:Gene Schiavone, courtesy Boston Ballet

The magnificent Boston Opera House welcomes an audience of all ages. The lights dim, and Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky’s timeless score resounds throughout the theater. The curtain rises, revealing the lovely Odette and her friends enjoying a pleasant afternoon by the lake. As the afternoon dwindles to evening, Odette’s friends depart, leaving her to enjoy her book. Finding Odette alone, the evil sorcerer, Von Rothbart, abducts the unsuspecting maid and casts a spell on her and her friends.

The curtains close, and those in the audience unfamiliar with the plot of the renowned ballet are astounded by the aggression of the prologue and eagerly await the continuation of Act I. The orchestra begins to play, and the curtains rise again, this time to a lively celebration at Prince Siegfried’s palace. Here the audience first meets Gonzalo Garcia, principal dancer with New York City Ballet (NYCB), as the valiant prince. The act proceeds through numerous festive dances which only cease upon the queen’s entrance. The queen presents her son with a magnificent crossbow. The prince is overjoyed until the queen demands he promptly find a wife. Surprised and dismayed by the news, Prince Siegfried disappears into the forest, ending act I.

Photo Credit: Rosalie O'Connor, courtesy of Boston Ballet
Photo Credit: Rosalie O’Connor, courtesy of Boston Ballet

Act II opens on a misty scene. Von Rothbart enters the stage, leaping in impressive bounds through the fog. Sensing the prince, Von Rothbart hides and watches the scene unfold. Sigfried stumbles upon the beautiful Odette and her court of swans. He instantly falls in love with her grace and beauty. Odette, danced by Misa Kuranaga, and the Prince captivate their audience with a poised duet. Gonzalo Garcia’s strength combined with Misa Kuranaga’s grace and skill creates a stunning performance.

Throughout their duet, Odette tells the prince of her curse. Prince Siegfried promises to break the spell. He professes his undying love for her, and pledges to tell the world of his devotion at the upcoming ball. The romantic scene ends, but the ballet is far from over.

After a fifteen minute intermission, the tale resumes. The ball has begun. Princesses and their courts come from all over the realm to perform, attempting to catch the Prince’s eye. However, Prince Siegfried is utterly disinterested. Only when Odette arrives does his mood change. Unbeknownst to the Prince, however, the woman he sees before him is not his love. Von Rothbart secretly disguised his daughter Odile to look like Odette.

Photo Credit: Gene Schiavone, courtesy Boston Ballet
Photo Credit: Gene Schiavone, courtesy Boston Ballet

Misa Kuranaga, also performing the part of Odile, is spectacular. She expertly distinguishes the movement styles of the two characters. Where Odette’s movements are gentle and even fragile, Odile is toying and sharp. Prince Siegfried proclaims his undying love for Odile, mistaking her for Odette, and in doing so seals the curse, trapping Odette and her court as swans forever. The ballet ends solemnly. While Odette and her love defeat Von Rothbart, the lovers can never be together. In his sorrow, Prince Siegfried follows his love to the lake and is consumed by the waves.

Swan Lake is both tragic and stunning. While nowhere near as challenging or vigorous as many of Boston Ballet’s other performances, Swan Lake is easily still a crowd favorite. The award winning scenery, elaborate costumes, and, of course, the classic story make Swan Lake one of the most beautiful ballets in Boston Ballet’s repertoire.

Photo Credit: Rosalie O'Connor, courtesy of Boston Ballet
Photo Credit: Rosalie O’Connor, courtesy of Boston Ballet

For tickets, prices, and showings go to: http://www.bostonballet.org/swanlake/

For Future Performances: http://www.bostonballet.org/tickets-and-performances.html

 

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