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Swan Lake: which productions have you seen?

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#16 felursus


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Posted 30 June 2001 - 01:14 PM

1) Balanchine with Maria Tallchief and Nicholas Magallanes (Act II)

2) Royal Ballet with Rowena Jackson and Philip Chatfield

3) Bolshoi with Plisetskaya and (not sure)

4) Royal Ballet again with Fonteyn and Blair and Beriosova Macleary. (I think this was essentially the same Leslie Hurry production that Blair later did for ABT). I guess it was basically Ashton with deValois input.

5) Kirov (Sergueyev production) - and I can't remember with whom - whoever and all who did it on the 1961 US tour.

6) Royal Ballet Carl Tom's production. This is the one that had the prologue (later cut), VR bringing the national dancers to the ball and the Ashton 4th act. (If I recall rightly, Makarova kept this for her production) There was a polonaise and a Mazurka choreographed by Nureyev

7)Beryl Grey's production for Festival Ballet (early 70s). I PROBABLY saw Evdokimova and ?. I guess I also saw Maina Gielgud do this while she was with the company. I don't remember much about it - it was that memorable - except that at the end, after Odette and Siegfried jump off the rocks, the swans formed a cross on stage. I have a feeling that the production debuted around Easter, and everyone was trying to figure out whether Grey had been carried away by religion.
8) POB's Nureyev production - the one in the box. I loathed it. I thought the POB danced it like civil servants: like marionettes. Having seen them many times in other things, perhaps they were told to be like that.
9) On film only: the Nureyev production for Vienna: the one where the swans run under the floor cloth at the end and Siegfried climbs a tree stump.... A friend once showed me the program from Vienna. There was an English translation of the libretto. In part it read: "Back at the ball there is a bevy of beautiful belles."

10) the Leslie Hurry/David Blair prod. for ABT

11) Makarova's production for ABT

12) Eric Bruhn's production for NBC

13) Peter Martin's production for the NYCB. No comment. My husband is taking a shower, so if I need to barf I can't.

14)Kevin McKenzie's production for ABT

I'm sure I've seen others somewhere along the line. Oh - the more recent Bolshoi production, of course. And the Boston Ballet/Kirov joint production. How could I forget?


#17 cargill


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Posted 02 July 2001 - 11:52 AM

That is a wonderful stage direction/translation. I remember a very literal translation of a Czech opera, which described a ball as having the guests "engaged in active milling", which I think if a pretty good description of some of the lst act Swan Lakes I have seen.

#18 Juliet


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Posted 02 July 2001 - 10:50 PM

I miss the Drunken Raid on the Aristocrat's Punchbowl the ABT corps peasants used to do in the first act of the Blair production. I have a feeling it wasn't originally in Blair's staging, but rather something that evolved on its own as the corps tried to overcome the monotony of a milllion first acts.

#19 Ostrich


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Posted 01 August 2004 - 12:08 PM

I hesitated a while about bumping this topic so far up, but talk about Swan Lake and changed endings, here's one that I haven't seen mentioned before. It is danced by Cape Town City Ballet (formerly PACT), or rather, it was danced by them. I haven't seen their Swan Lake for years now and may have changed in the meantime.

It has a prologue showing how Odette and all her ladies-in-waiting get changed into swans. The rest of the ballet is relatively traditional, but in the last act, Siegfried and Rothbart fight and Siegfried eventually rips one of Rothbart's HUGE wings off. This apparently kills him. Odette then comes in, no longer as a swan, but dressed as the princess she was before Rothbart put his spell on her.
And so they lived happily ever after...

I grew up on this version, which maybe explains why I never had any problems with the Bolshoi's "happy ending" production.

#20 GeorgeB fan

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Posted 05 August 2004 - 06:45 PM

No question in my mind the very best Swan Lake currently on video is The Royal Ballet's production starring Natalia Makarova and Anthony Dowell. WOW! If you wish to introduce someone to the art of ballet and show them why its so beautiful, and if you can't get them to a theater, this video is the next best thing.

I love the fact that it is a straight forward production that paid due respect to Petipa and Ivanov while at the same time opening the ballet enough to add original choreography by Frederick Ashton and Rudolf Nureyev.

The sets and costumes by Leslie Hurry are beautiful and sumptuous and gave you a real sense medieval Germany.

Anthony Dowell dancing can be sum up in three words: regal, glamorous, elegant.
As for Natalia Makarova, she is as close to perfection as I have yet seen of the characterization of Odette/Odile. Phrasing, musicality, heartbreaking, its all there. They dancing the lakeside act pas de deux is one of the most hauntingly expressive performance of that extraoridinary pas de deux I ever seen.

And every Swan Lake production should have Ashton's choreography of the Neapolitan Dance. Joyous, inventive, creative and high-flying fun. Rosemary Taylor and Wayne Sleep are terrific.

The television direction wonderfully capture the stage production for the video audience. Close-up, wide angle, over head angle, editing, fantastic job.

From the best to the worst. The State Perm Ballet video production is in a word awful. First there is the noise. When the swans started dancing on point you can hear them coming a mile away. Clunk, clunk. The choreography with the exception of the standard set pieces are weak. The sets and costumes are chessy and cheap looking. The dancing was reliable at best. I understand that Aleksei Fadeyetchev is regarded as one of the best male dancers of his generation. You won't understand that base on this video. He's a wonderful partner, but he is to expessive with his mine dancing. Arms and head waving to much, he makes to big a production in declaring his love for Odette when touching his heart with his hands. Overall a terrible production.

The only saving grace was Nina Ananiashvili. In fact she was the reason I brought the video. The first live production of Swan Lake I saw was Kevin McKenzie's new ABT's production starring Ananiashvili and Julio Bocca. I was so rapture by her performance I brought the tape, thinking I could have the beauty of her dancing capture on tape. Big mistake.

I like McKenzie production. Zach Brown's set and costumes are beautifully sumptuous. Some people have said overly beautiful. I like the prologue showing how Von Rothbart trick Odette and change her into a swan. But I can also see why some people have problems with the production. Why is it that American productions of Swan Lake always seem to cut the ballet by combining the four acts into just two acts. Do they think American audience are incapable at seating though four acts? When the swans are dancing in the second act of McKenzie production after the ballroom scene in front of a backdrop, it is so obivous they are dancing mainly so the sets can be change. And boy you can hear the stage crew changing them. But overall I love the production.

I also love the Kirov current production as well. They have authority written all over their production.

#21 oberon


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Posted 06 August 2004 - 04:20 AM

When I first saw the Peter Martins SWAN LAKE I hated it...so ugly. But because I wanted to see certain dancers in these roles, I have been back several times and now I have gotten used to it. I have learned to tune out the backdrop, and the too-colourful costumes of the opening scene.

I guess what I like about it is: it is dance, dance, dance...there is very little mime or filler. The Jester, who can be so annoying in some productions, is here given just enough to do and the steps are quite brilliant esp. as danced by Adam Hendrickson or Daniel Ulbricht. Also the dance of the Would-Be-Brides is very lovely and gives nice little glimpses of several of the beautiful girls in the NYCB corps. The passage following the Black Swan PDD is very powerful...Rotbart keeps giving Siegfried opportunities to back off from Odile but the Prince persists, getting totally fed up with Rotbart and emphatically pledging his faith to Odile, with disastrous consequences. The entire final lakeside scene is quite moving and the lighting here is very good, and the addition of Black swans is visually striking.

The focus is strongly on Siegfried...really, it's his story. The ending, with Rotbart defeated but Odette doomed to remain a Swan because Siegfried has pledged himself both to her and to Odile, is the best ending of SWAN LAKE I have ever seen...and suits the music perfectly. There is no triumph, no redemption. Odette's leave-taking of her failed savior is truly poignant and we are left with the utterly dejected, miserable Siegfried to live on with the memory of his betrayal.

#22 Benny190891


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Posted 29 December 2007 - 09:18 PM

I've seen 4 different productions of Swan Lake all very different.
The first one I saw (only when I was little) was Graeme Murphy's contemporary take on the story of Odette and Siegfried. It is part of the Australian Ballet's repertoire, and they have toured to Britain, America, and Japan with it. The story is about a young girl who doubts the fidelity of her new husband and goes mad, finding peace only in a fantasy of swan-like maidens. The late and tragic re-capture of her husbands love leads to both their deaths.
I might note that the Australian Ballet is doing another performance season of this production next year (at different times around Australia) and if ur in Australia at the right time it is well worth seeing.

The 2nd production of swan lake that i have seen/danced is the Anne Wooliams production. I have both seen it on video and danced in it as a jester in the Australian Ballet School's production of the ballet. I thoroughly enjoy this version as it has a logical story that I think is easier to follow than other more 'traditional' productions. The choreography as well is just sublime-a really great use of the classical technique to express the emotions of the characters, especially the swans: Act 4 makes me cry every time!

The 3rd production I have seen is the Paris Opera Ballet's Nureyev version. I didn't enjoy this version as much because of the different roles characters like Rothbart and Siegfried play-to me Swan Lake is not about a complicated relationship between Rothbart and his apprentice but about the Swans and Siegfried's involvement with them that happens to include the evil and spiteful Rothbart. I don't think a romantic style story such as Swan Lake needs any type of complex deeper meanings and such-I think the deepness of good vs evil, light vs dark, and some good choreography can support a ballet with such a constant theme of true and desperate love. I just didn't enjoy this version because it had too much in it that the dancers had to portray-simple and strong I think is the way to go with a romantic storyline.

The 4th production doesn't fully count as I've only seen it on video, but I'm putting it here anyway-the Bolshoi production (I THINK it was the Bolshoi, it was with Zakharova and Roberto Bolle-correct me if im wrong someone). I liked it... I spose but the choreography annoyed me-again I think simple is the way to go rather than 50 different sequences in every variation and dance. As well at the points in the music where there was a massive crescendo and climax it was often only a single person dancing (e.g Act 4 where Siegfried's final entrance, and attempt to drown himself in the lake was just laughable-which it should NOT be!!). Other than that I think they got the story right-nice and simple again so that the dancers can focus on showing emotions rather than thoughts.

Overall I like both the Australian productions the best (the Murphy and Wooliams) because the stories are simple but powerful-and can be shown easily enough with some good choreography and brilliant music!

P.S Tchaikovsky's music is deserved of the highest praise-it puts me through so many emotions every time I listen to it. It's relaxing but energising, it simplifies but it is so complex-I LOVE SWAN LAKE MUSIC :thumbsup:

#23 Cygnet


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Posted 30 December 2007 - 04:24 PM

The productions I've seen are:

ABT - Baryshnikov's version, MacKenzie's version and Blair's version
NYCB - Martin's version & Balanchine's version
POB - Nureyev's version
Royal Ballet - Hurry's version and Dowell's version
Bolshoi - Grigorovich's version
Maryinsky - Sergeyev's version
Adventures in Motion Pictures - Bourne's version

#24 bart


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Posted 30 December 2007 - 04:53 PM

Thanks, Benny190891 and Cygnet, for reviving this thread. I hope others will join in. It's a wonderful memory test.

The 4th production doesn't fully count as I've only seen it on video, but I'm putting it here anyway-the Bolshoi production (I THINK it was the Bolshoi, it was with Zakharova and Roberto Bolle-correct me if im wrong someone).

The La Scala dvd? Strangely, I rather liked the way the drowning effect was done in the end.

I"ve seen a lot and forgotten the details of most. :wallbash:

Among live performances, I still have hazy black-and-white memories -- rather like scraps of old silent film -- from a Ballet Theater performance when I was a child in NYC in the early 50s, though this might have just been the 2 big pdd's.

Merle Park, with the Royal in NYC in the 60s or 70s, stays with me. As does Bessmertnova with the Bolshoi (also in NYC) from approximately the same time. For years I kept thinking that her name was "Bessemer," as in Bessemer converter.

Also: Makarova and Gregory in the Baryshnikov staging (both ABT in the 80s). The Balanchine Act II starting in the late 50s, danced by almost all the principals in NYCB through the course of different seasons, and to very different effect.

Most recently, Elena Kulagina in the Makarova version, performed by Perm State Ballet on US tour.

#25 JMcN


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Posted 31 December 2007 - 02:19 AM

The first Swan Lake I saw was Peter Darrell's production for Scottish Ballet where Act 2 was Seigfried's drug induced dream. I really didn't like it (I probably saw it in 1985 or 1986) and it nearly put me off!!

My next Swan Lake was Natalia Makarova's production for London Festival Ballet (now English National Ballet). The opening night in Bradford was magical - Trinidad Sevillano and Patrick Armand were breath-taking together. This production used Sir Frederick Ashton's Pas de Quatre and Neapolitan (never bettered) and some of his Act 4. Makarova called him on stage for the curtain calls and the audience erupted.

Since then I saw Raisa Struchova's production for ENB, which I hated (especially the happy ending) and Derek Deane's conventional production for them.

Galina Samsova did a delightful, traditional production for Scottish Ballet. The set and costumes were by Jasper Conran and were stunning. My recollection is that it got mixed reviews because some reviewers felt that Scottish Ballet did not have enough dancers to mount a traditional Swan Lake.

When I first started following Northern Ballet Theatre they introduced a traditional production of Swan Lake by Andre Prokovsky. When Christopher Gable took over he commissioned a new production by an American choreographer (Denis Wayne?) that had all new choreography, including a roller-skating tutor for Seigfried. This was amended drastically over several seasons and became unmissable. This, for the reviewers, was the other side of the coin to Scottish Ballet's in that it used the Tchaikowsky score, the name and the story but not the conventional choreography - and how absolutely dare they!!!!! Damned if you do and damned if you don't!

Since then David Nixon has produced another new production for NBT, set on the East Coast of America in the 1920s, with an interesting love triangle and his own choreography. I love it and hope they bring it back soon!

I also very much enjoyed Australian Dance Theatre's take on Swan Lake - Birdbrain - when I saw it last year (if I wrote this tomorrow it would be two years ago!).

Matthew Bourne's Swan Lake makes perfect sense to me, using male swans - although beautiful, swans are such powerful birds that they have always struck me as being masculine. Although I am no expert, I think it is actually very conventionally structured. I've seen some terrific performances of this over the years by Adam Cooper, Will Kemp and, especially, Simon Cooper. For me, other casts have struggled to achieve their magic.

My favourite, conventional Swan Lake has got to be Sir Peter Wright's for Birmingham Royal Ballet. He has a real genius for mounting the big classics and this is no exception. It is handsomely dressed in black and silver and I have been fortunate to see some fabulous performances over the years. One that sticks in my mind is from three or four years ago with Ambra Vallo and Sergiu Pobereznic. They are both mature artists (Pobereznic has since retired) and their stage-craft was really telling. It was another unforgettable afternoon in Birmingham. The Dutch National Ballet, inter alia, also had/have this production and there is a recorded version of them doing it. BRB are touring this production extensively in the Spring of 2008 and I'm really looking forward to it.

#26 PeggyR


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Posted 01 January 2008 - 07:15 PM

I've seen several over the years (including a couple with Fonteyn/Nureyev), but the one that really stands out for me took place sometime in the '70s. The Royal Ballet (I think it was the full company, not some 'stars of...') had a Makarova/Dowell SL scheduled for a weekday matinee. Bought a ticket and asked for the afternoon off from work (note the order :dunno: ).

In the opera house lobby, there was a considerable buzz -- usually a sign someone has cancelled. My heart sank; sure enough, Dowell was injured. What had everyone abuzz was the news that Nureyev had come in specially to dance this performance.

Whatever his faults, they were forgiven that afternoon. And she was absolutely glorious; I don't think I've ever seen such exquisite developes. Sometimes the audience is just 'with' the performers, no matter what, and this was one of those times. Great memory.

#27 Sacto1654


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Posted 23 August 2008 - 01:43 PM

Here are the versions of the ballet I've seen on video:

1) Margot Fonteyn with Michael Somes (1959)

2) Maya Plisetskaya with Nicolai Fadeyechev (1957)

3) Natalia Bessmertnova with Alexander Bogatyrev (1984)

4) Svetlana Zakharova with Roberto Bolle (2004)

5) Gillian Murphy with Angel Corella (2005)

6) Ulyana Lopatkina with Danila Korsuntsev (2006)

Of all these versions, Plisetskaya has by far the best on-stage acting ability, Zakharova has the best-danced Odile, and Lopatkina has the best-danced Odette. :)

#28 Rosa


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Posted 18 May 2009 - 06:28 PM

Productions of Swan Lake I've seen on TV:

Makhalina/Zelensky -- Kirov-Mariinsky Ballet
Bessmertnova/Bogatyrev -- Bolshoi Ballet
Fonteyn/Nureyev -- Vienna State Opera Ballet
Adventures in Motion Pictures
Mezentseva/Zaklinsky -- Kirov-Mariinsky Ballet
Makarova/Dowell -- Royal Ballet
Makarova/Nagy -- American Ballet Theatre (Blair's version)
Nordquist/Nordström -- Royal Swedish Ballet
Murphy/Corella -- American Ballet Theatre (McKenzie's version)
Hart/Schaufuss -- London Festival Ballet
Fonteyn/Somes Act II -- Royal Ballet
Letestu/Martinez -- Paris Opera Ballet (Nureyev's version)
Scherzer/Matz -- Staatsballett Berlin
Yevteyeva/Markovsky -- Kirov-Mariinsky Ballet
Lopatkina/Korsuntsev -- Kirov-Mariinsky Ballet
Zakharova/Bolle -- La Scala Ballet
Mikhalchenko/Vasyuchenko -- Bolshoi Ballet
Kolesnikova/Akulinin -- St Petersburg Ballet Theatre
Guangdong Acrobatic Troupe Of China
Nunez/Soares -- Royal Ballet
Semionov/Jermakov -- Zurich Ballet
Alexandrova/Skvortsov -- Bolshoi Ballet

And live:
Lorenzo/Hench -- Pennsylvania Ballet (Wheeldon's version)
Part/Gomes -- American Ballet Theatre (McKenzie's version)

#29 cubanmiamiboy


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Posted 18 May 2009 - 07:52 PM

Ok, so...
Live SL's, I've seen...
-Alonso's for CNB-(with the pro of a very cute mime scene related to the whole wedding-to-be ordeal and the cons of the happy soviet era ending :innocent: , which I stopped liking after seeing the original suicidal ending)
-McKenzie's for ABT. I didn't like this production, with that weird Prologue, the Alien-look/alike Rothbart and the Maypole thing... :pinch: but...I liked the ending.
-Villella's for MCB-(Balanchine's). Still missing Odile on that one...! :(

On video I have...
-Nureyev/Fonteyn...(very surreal...from N's makeup to the ending...)
-Ulanova/Dudinskaya/Sergueev...(I can't help it... but I love it...Ulanova and Dudinskaya are unique, and the puffy tutus of the swans are lovely...plus it has a delicious vintage feeling...even with the truncated choreography)
-CCBM. Oh, this are my people... :wub: , and they did their best to put up a decent production, plus I love Hayna Gutierrez as O/O on it...

#30 4mrdncr


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Posted 17 September 2010 - 04:05 PM

THE '60's
My first Swan Lake, I was two years old (my mother said it was ABT, but not certain) it was probably in Tokyo. I remember a very dark theater, and a very small greenish square with very small white dots/people dancing in it. (We were in a very high balcony, last row). I sat throught it all, and didn't cry.

Then Nureyev/Fonteyn Vienna film. (Don't remember much now, but I used to play the soundtrack over and over and dance to it.)

My next "SL" was the Ice Capades (probably 4-5yrs old), I had a tantrum and cried/shrieked because they spoofed my favorite music/ballet.(I remember a big egg moving out across the ice, and cracking open with a clownlike feather- shrouded figure emerging :jawdrop: )

THE '70's
Mostly in Japan:
KIROV: (I don't remember much except that I liked ACT2, the sets/costumes of ACT3, not the ending, and especially my program with a "M.Baryshnikov" listed as Benno)
BOLSHOI: I do remember Plisetskaya, and always shall. Also liked the sets/costumes and choreography until ActIV.
ABT: Had tickets for Sleeping Beauty, showed up the wrong night, but with the strong persuasive abilities of my mother's friend was able to attend, seated on the aisle steps.
LONDON FESTIVAL BALLET: I remembered the prologue

And of course the performance, I rehearsed forever, but never got to dance in because we moved back to the US on short notice.

THE 80's - now:
BOSTON BALLET / Kirov with Nina Ananiashvili. I also remember Patrick Armand's Siegfried. I LOVED the sets and costumes. The choreography was traditional enough and impressive enough.
ABT (Blair) with Makarova/Nagy (also got the taped version), Makarova/Dowell, and Gregory (she still had best swan arms I've seen as Odette). I loved the staging of this, and the way the backdrop changes perspective of the castle's view from Act1 to Act2. And Act4 choreography/ending.
(Baryshnikov) with Susan Jaffe's debut, and then later casts including Van Hamel, Gudanov (sp?) etc.
(McKenzie) Kent, Murphy, Dvorovenko, Bocca, Corella, Gomes, Carreno. (How I miss Act4!)
Royal Ballet (Dowell choreography)- Agree about sets being disappointing, and costumes something I had to get used to. I didn't mind the choreography in Act4.

London Festival Ballet (Makarova-choreography)
Royal Ballet (Makarova/Dowell)
Kirov (Lopatkina)
Bolshoi (Plisetskaya)
ABT (Murphy/Corella)

Also saw NYCB's on PBS. Ditto everyone's critique of that.

Still deciding which parts of which above performance I like best.
(But must mention Tereshkina's '07 Mariinsky Festival Odette on YT too as a favorite.)

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