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Wright/Samsova's Swan Lake in Stockholm

Guest Anders

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Guest Anders

On 2 November 2001, the Royal Swedish Opera in Stockholm will premiere Swan Lake, as choreographed by Sir Peter Wright and Galina Samsova. The performance will be recorded by Swedish national television and BBC, for future broadcasting - look out for that one. The following is an excerpt from the program of the Royal Opera:

"Mer musik, fler danser och ett slut som vi inte tidigare sett på Operan, utlovar den brittiske koreografen Sir Peter Wright, som ger oss en klassisk dramatisk tolkning nära Tjajkovskijs 1800-talsoriginal."

(My translation: "British choreographer Sir Peter Wright gives us a classical dramatical interpretation close to Tchaikovsky's original, and promises more music, more dances and an ending which we have never before seen at the [Royal Swedish] Opera.")

I've secured first night tickets, and am very excited about going, Swan Lake being the principal reason for me becoming interested in ballet at all and even beginning to take classes. I have seen two versions of Swan Lake, which, to my admittedly untrained eye, differed mainly in the ending (one happy, one sad, the former given last spring at the Maly Teatr and the latter last summer at the Musorgsky Conservatory, both in St. Petersburg). I much prefer the tragic sacrifice of the Maly rendition. (Please excuse my ignorance as to choreographer, etc. I have not kept the program to either performance, and my interest in ballet is only now beginning to bloom.)

Does anyone know anything about the Wright/Samsova Swan Lake, e.g. can I expect to weep at the sad beauty of the unfulfilled love of the two young protagonists? Also, can I expect to gasp at the 32 fouetees? Other comments on or thoughts about this production?

[ 10-02-2001: Message edited by: Anders ]

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This production dates from 1981, and is the one used by Birmingham Royal Ballet. Sir Peter Wright (as he now is) masterminded the move from London to Birmingham for what was then the Sadler’s Wells Royal Ballet (i.e. the touring part of the parent company – BRB is now fully independent). Galina Samsova danced Odette/Odile when the production opened (in Manchester) as well as being partly responsoble for the production; she included in the choreography dances she learnt while she was a leading dancer at Kiev.

I’ve seen it with designs by Philip Prowse; a strong traditional look with much black and gold in the court scenes. The action starts with a brief funeral cortege; we are therefore reminded of the death of the Prince’s father, which makes sense of the pressure on the Prince to choose a bride. There is no annoying jester at the court (thankfully). The Queen Mother arrives, suddenly, while the Prince and his friends are involved in an entertainment arranged by Benno to cheer him up on his 21st birthday, and is a bit shocked as to what is going on while the court is still officially in mourning (a couple of courtesans have also appeared on the scene) – the heavy designs help to engender the right feeling of a somewhat oppresive court, grand though it is.

The last act starts very dramatically (I hope you see all the effects I’ve seen BRB use). The ending is the (more or less original) sad one. Odette and Siegried decide they cannot live apart, so will die together; O throws herself into the lake and von R is thwarted when he tries to stop S following her, etc.

It’s a strong, traditional re-telling of the story; luxuriant costumes for the visitors in Act 3, and all the usual choreographic fireworks from Odile; enjoy it!

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