What an enjoyable new Swan Lake the Royal Ballet can boast about. The filmed live performance was screened Tuesday night at Landmark Cinemas on W. 57th Street at 12th Avenue and will be screened again next Tuesday. Landmark Cinemas, which is in the base of the new Via apartment complex, must be the snazziest movie house on the island. You won't want to go home after the show, and there's no need to because the cinema's bright bar & lounge beckon you to stay as you approach the exit to leave.
The RB's Swan Lake is lovely, indeed, but what a strange ending. After Odette went over the cliff, Siegfried disappeared into the darkness under the cliff and re-emerged carrying the Odette (in young girl form wearing her nightie) who first appeared in the prologue. Siegfried never actually met her then, but apparently he knew she was Odette in the water. As he walked forward with her lifeless body, Odette in swan form appeared above the cliff flapping her wings. This all must have made the story more "relevant" for Liam Scarlett who managed the new production. But as we tend to say now and then, and perhaps too much – relevance is overrated.
Marianela Nunez was stunning, of course, as both Odette and Odile. If anyone is interested, her fouettes -- all 32 counts of them -- did not move off of the proverbial quarter on the floor. Most impressive, however, was her Act II solo--particularly the opening battements in which her foot that began extended to the back came to the flattest fifth position we've ever seen before brushing the battement upward. It was the most textbook perfect that we've ever seen this sequence performed. All of her dancing was lovely, incredibly secure, and included musical detailing that made it interesting. She didn't convey a lot of vulnerability but she had us convinced of the seriousness of her predicament.
Vadim Muntagirov as Siegfried was near perfection in technical matters, but a little monochromatic rather than dramatic. One thing is for certain – he looks, dances, and acts a lot better since joining the Royal Ballet than when he paid NY a visit some years before.
Alexander Campbell, Akane Takada, and Francesca Hayward danced a rich and satisfying Pas de Trois with more than the customary allegro-devilishness, particularly in Act III during which they got extensive stage time.
The overall presentation on film could use a lot more light. There is an abundance of dark costumes and dark colored set pieces which make it somewhat difficult to see the dancers now and then. Even the swans in their gorgeous tutus were deep in shadows. This level of lighting would be death to a production like Mayerling.
There will be another screening of Swan Lake next Tuesday at 7pm. It is well worth the $19.50 to stretch out in the awesome recliner chairs with your feet up and enjoy the Royal Ballet. For sure, nobody in Covent Garden was as relaxed and comfortable as we all were last night.