Theatre Review: Birmingham Royal Ballet’s SWAN LAKE – The Lowry, Salford

Birmingham Royal Ballet's Swan Lake

Birmingham Royal Ballet’s lavish production of SWAN LAKE is as atmospheric as it is beautiful

5 out of 5 stars

Birmingham Royal Ballet make a welcome return to Salford’s The Lowry with a lavish revival of Peter Wright and Galina Samsova’s 1981 production of SWAN LAKE.

Composed by Tchaikovsky in 1875, SWAN LAKE tells the story of the doomed love between Prince Siegfried and Princess Odette. Whilst out hunting one night, Prince Siegfried witnesses the transformation of Odette, a beautiful princess compelled by an evil spell to spend her days in the form of a swan. Odette can only be saved by the power of love, promised by the Prince, but tragedy awaits the pair as the evil Baron Von Rothbart sends his daughter Odile to imitate Odette and trick the Prince. The Prince breaks his vow as he falls for the imposter – and the love birds can only be reunited with his true love through death.

Birmingham Royal Ballet's Swan Lake

As curtain rises, it’s clear from the outset that this production of SWAN LAKE is a lavish affair. Philip Prowse’s stunning set hints at a growing sense of doom as the palace’s dark marbled columns give way to a murky lakeside framed by spidery branches.

His costume design is equally stunning, the lavish robes and headdresses of the ballroom scenes contrasting beautifully against the simple pure white tutus of the swans.

As Prince Siegfried, César Morales excels at lonely weltschmerz, dancing with precision, elegance and an effortless air. Momoko Hirata is equally mesmerising in her dual roles, delivering just the right amount of grace, pathos and feather-soft vulnerability as Odette, before transforming into her evil doppelganger, Odile. Her performance in Act Three in which she delivers 32 pirouettes and fouettés – revolving on one leg – is a particular highlight and her final pas de deux with Morales is beautifully touching.

Birmingham Royal Ballet's Swan Lake

A special mention must go to the corps de ballet who provided some wow factor moments – the audience literally gasping with delight at the opening of final act as the swan-maidens emerged gracefully from a cloud of dry ice to deliver perfect synchronised scenes.

The Royal Ballet Sinfonia also deserve recognition for their superb performance of Tchaikovsky’s iconic score – a character in itself – played beautifully and skilfully under the watchful eye of Philip Ellis.

Atmospheric, romantic and beautiful, Birmingham Royal Ballet prove once again that there is nothing quite as bewitching as a ballet. If you’re not blown away by this production, you’re not human.

Birmingham Royal Ballet’s SWAN LAKE runs at The Lowry, Salford until 7 March 2020