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Your Reaction: What did you think of Swan Lake 2018?

Audience responses and press reviews following opening night of Liam Scarlett's new production for The Royal Ballet.

By Mel Spencer (Senior Editor (Social Media))

18 May 2018 at 10.11am | 30 Comments

Press reviews:

Independent ★★★★★
Times ★★★★★
Financial Times ★★★★★
Evening Standard ★★★★★
Londonist ★★★★★
Guardian ★★★★
Telegraph ★★★
The Stage ★★★

What did you think of Swan Lake?
Add your thoughts in the comments below.

Swan Lake runs until 21 June 2018. Tickets are now sold out, but there will be a selection released each Friday for performances in the following week as part of Friday Rush.

The performance will be broadcast to cinemas around the world on 12 June. Find a screening near you.

The production is sponsored by Van Cleef & Arpels and is staged with Generous philanthropic support from The Monument Trust, Ricki Gail and Robert Conway, Mrs Aline Foriel-Destezet, Jette Parker, Celia Blakey, Sarah and Lloyd Dorfman, Doug and Ceri King, the Swan Lake Production Syndicate, The American Friends of Covent Garden and The Royal Opera House Endowment Fund.

By Mel Spencer (Senior Editor (Social Media))

18 May 2018 at 10.11am

This article has been categorised Ballet and tagged Ballet, by Liam Scarlett, Production, Social Media, Swan Lake, your reaction

This article has 30 comments

  1. r.a. responded on 18 May 2018 at 11:50am Reply

    So excited to have been present for the opening night and so thrilled for Liam. Wonderful to hear some of Tchaikovsky's original music restored for Act 4 - very affecting. I was in the audience for the Insights evening and in Act III was especially impressed with Tierney Heap in the Spanish Dance. Also thought Akane Takada's solo in Act I was exquisite. Hope to see her as Odette/Odile in one of the later performances. Marianela and Vadim were wonderful. Left the auditorium feeling very moved and exhilarated. Congratulations!

  2. Total overwhelming triumph. This is a world class production.
    I have rarely attended such a ravishingly beautiful evening at Covent Garden.

  3. Peter responded on 18 May 2018 at 1:17pm Reply

    Honoured to have attended the first night. Was well aware it was more than just another ballet evening as a new production of Swan Lake at Covent Garden is as rare as pen's teeth. It surpassed all expectations. Just sublime. The performance matched it. Wonderful!

  4. Karen responded on 18 May 2018 at 2:15pm Reply

    Such a relief to have the tutus back (it is called Swan Lake, not Emu lake, after all). Scarlett has done a great job of keeping the bits that need keeping and changing the bits that need changing.Sterling work, as ever by all concerned but the costumes and set in Act 3 were a highlight for me.

  5. Ian responded on 18 May 2018 at 2:41pm Reply

    One of those "I was there!" First Nights. Totally dazzling in every the 32nd fouette turned and the uproar broke out. Marvellous new choreography, glorious sets and over it all quite simply stupendous dancing. Loved every second!

  6. Patricia Casselden responded on 18 May 2018 at 2:48pm Reply

    Wow! A total triumph! I was at the premiere of the last production which I disliked from the start & although I saw it many times over the intrvening 30 years my initial dislike remained. I was so pleased when I heard that at last this great company was to have a new production; & what a production!
    It's brilliant in every way but especially the new concepts behind the storyline; it has everything that my "fantasy" Swan Lake has had over the years.
    Last night was my 93rd Swan Lake (most, but not all by the Royal Ballet) in my 53 years of ballet going & I can't wait for a second perfromance next month.
    THANK YOU Royal Opera House, Royal Ballet, Liam Scarlett & all concerned with this magnificent production. It was an honour to have been there.

  7. Bridie Macmahon responded on 18 May 2018 at 4:33pm Reply

    A beautiful production, magnificently danced. Thanks and congratulations to all involved. I have only two reservations, one serious and the other small: the serious one is that the ending doesn't reflect the glorious, triumphant hope of the music. The key has changed, and all is NOT lost. I know the other swan maidens have been saved, but this is primarily a story about Siegfried and Odette, and they must have some sort of redemption too. And (a very small point) I was sitting in J72 in the Amphi - I know this is restricted view, but I could see nothing of the line of swans on the right as you look at the stage. (Nor could my friend see them at all, in J71.) I've never had this problem before and I hope it was just that they lined up a little too near the wings! (I have never had a problem seeing the Wilis, for example.) BUT - what an amazing performance!

  8. Richard responded on 18 May 2018 at 4:36pm Reply

    I agree Patricia - a total triumph. One of the loveliest things I have ever seen. Huge grin on my face from Act 1 onwards. A very special evening.

  9. Fiz responded on 18 May 2018 at 4:40pm Reply

    This sounds as if it was a complete triumph! I cannot wait for the live screening at the cinema. :::Hugs self with delightful anticipation:::

  10. Alex responded on 18 May 2018 at 5:45pm Reply

    A truly wonderful new production, really pleased I was there for the Opening Night. The new set design and costumes are stunning. The Muntagirov/Nunez partnership is very enjoyable to watch, especially Vadim Muntagirov. What a dancer he is! The Pas de trois was charmingly danced by Alexander Campbell, Francesca Hayward and the outstanding Akane Takada who displayed such a marvellous classical technic. Looking forward now to see Akane Takada as Odette/Odile but above all to see the one and only Odette/Odile debut by Yasmine Naghdi.

  11. Lucy responded on 18 May 2018 at 6:16pm Reply

    It would be helpful (and also nice) to know in advance who else is dancing apart from Odette/Odile and Siegfried. Not the whole cast, but certainly von Rothbart. Is there any chance that you will add this casting to the calendar for future productions?

    • Nicoletta responded on 19 May 2018 at 4:56pm

      Excellent remark! Knowing when Gary Avis performs would have a great impact on my date decision!!

  12. Karenb responded on 18 May 2018 at 7:41pm Reply

    I agree with everything that's already been said. It was a privilege to be there. I saw Kevin O'Hare outside the stage door before the performance. One of the people with him said, "don't worry Kevin, it will be a triumph!" Well, it really was. Congratulations to everyone involved, special bravo to Liam Scarlett. One of the most wonderful evenings I've ever had at Covent Garden. Can't wait to see it again next week.

  13. francois responded on 18 May 2018 at 8:22pm Reply

    A total triumph, a historical milestone in the life of the Royal Ballet, this new production of Swan Lake is more than outstanding; It is intellectually and artistically thrilling, the result of an amazing work on the original score and synposis. The choreography, fortunately very pure in its classicism, is so rich of details that one would need more than one performance to enjoy a comprehensive view of all the subtleties that Liam Scarlett has introduced in his vision of this masterpiece. Liam deserves more than yesterday's standing ovation, his work is a true contribution to the story of this ballet.
    The corps de ballet has been absolutely outstanding throughout the evening, comparable to the Mariinsky (who as far as I am concerned was the reference for this ballet... until yesterday!). And all solists were fantastic!
    Only the orchestra was not at the level of such an event, with far too many mistakes at the trumpets and a solo violin surprisingly providing a horrible sound. The orchestra obviously needs more rehearsals before the live cinema, some musicians are not ready yet.
    But globally it was more than a 5 star evening, really one that will remain in the history of the company and the history of Swan Lake in Europe!

  14. Fiona Reed responded on 18 May 2018 at 9:59pm Reply

    Sounds as if this is a total triumph. Can't wait to see this in the live cinema relay on 12th June. Another Liam Scarlett triumph.

  15. Valerie Knight responded on 18 May 2018 at 10:00pm Reply

    Having just been thrilled by the last night of Manon, I am now eagerly looking forward to seeing the new Production of Swan Lake. What great reviews - roll on 8th June.

  16. Susan Morris responded on 18 May 2018 at 10:54pm Reply

    It was staggeringly beautiful - a triumph - an electric night at the ROH!

  17. Geoff responded on 19 May 2018 at 5:38am Reply

    Yes, definitely, but with reservations, which were well articulated in the review in the Daily Telegraph.

  18. Victor responded on 19 May 2018 at 6:20pm Reply

    History in the making !!! Thank you for listening to fans of ballet at last you change the tutus of the Corp de ballet !! Absolutely stunning, tears eyes watching it . Magnificent!! Thank you Royal Ballet . Vic

  19. Clare responded on 19 May 2018 at 11:30pm Reply

    I often wonder whether anyone ever goes up into the Amphitheatre these days to see what productions look like from up there and in particular to see whether they are adequately lit to ensure that the action is visible from all seats which are not specifically sold as restricted view seats. I suspect that the answer is that no one bothers and that as long as everything looks OK from the stalls no one worries that much.

    The lighting for the white acts needs to be tweaked as at the moment Siegfried is not as visible as he should be from the higher reaches of the Amphitheatre. His lack of visibility is the result of the low lighting levels and the colour of the prince's costume.

    • elleG responded on 21 May 2018 at 11:08am

      On the basis of having sat in different locations, the lighting needs to be tweaked for the benefit of the WHOLE house. Siegfried isn't sufficiently visible in Act 1/2 and some audience members even missed his soliloquy entirely because of the scene changes going on around him. In Act 3, especially for the audience seated at the sides of the auditorium, so much light reflects off the gold flats that Siegfried and others become dancing shadows. One wonders why Benno is so brightly clad in comparison with others as he thus becomes a distraction.
      Lots to like and will say more later but the lighting needs sorting NOW.
      Oh, I simply have to say how absolutely brilliant Vadim Muntagirov is as Siegfried.

    • The lighting was magnificent and magical from the amphitheatre. It's a romantic ballet not an operating theatre.
      A glorious, glorious production which should be celebrated.

  20. David Taylor responded on 20 May 2018 at 5:53pm Reply

    yes, please tell us more about the casting. For instance, when is Gary Avis dancing Rothbart please?

    • Lucy responded on 21 May 2018 at 3:31pm

      I am hoping the ROH will confirm the contrary, but I don't think he is this time. Very, very disappointing.

    • Jennifer Taylor responded on 22 May 2018 at 8:53pm

      If this is true, this is disappointing indeed as he is the ROH's best character artist.

  21. Verena responded on 21 May 2018 at 8:15am Reply

    Honestly, I don't know more than the reviews, and it seemed to turn out more interesting than anticipated. Apparently, some points of Scarlett's confusing interview didn't find their way into the performance.
    I just want to judge the idea. The Royal Ballet has stunning dancers and I wouldn't question them.
    The whole performance reminded me of Patrice Bart, John Cranko and Peter Wright.
    The 19th century setting is believeable and I just want to highlight that Scarlett's changes are possible to accept, but not - as he demands it- necessary. The peasants' waltz was a question of romance and the longing for a more natural way of life. I understand why to change it and focus more on the contrast between the acts.
    Scarlett chose a more rational look at Von Rotbart and in his solution, some goofs are expelled. I only miss that Odile isn't a part in Act 1. Why has Odile to be a magical creature? She's Rotbart's daughter and could have earned more explainations.
    The ending fits to the libretto of 1877, but my opinion is still that the music is more hopeful.
    And I pity that the old-school Swan Lake is now gone because I think that too many companies have the sad, tragic hero. Of course, Swan Lake tells Siegfried's story, but Odette gets less and less interesting.
    I will certainly try to watch this performance, but I had not the possibility yet.

  22. LYN JUSTINS responded on 21 May 2018 at 10:03am Reply

    I approach all "new productions" of beloved classics with great trepidation, assuming they will be updated and generally mucked about, but I was thrilled with the new Swan Lake. Absolutely fabulous - bring it out on DVD immediately!

  23. Michael Llewellyn responded on 21 May 2018 at 1:25pm Reply

    A magnificent grand production which fits beautifully into the rep and will last for many years. Great to see so many possible opportunities for developing dancers contained within the new staging

  24. Jennifer Taylor responded on 22 May 2018 at 8:56pm Reply

    Please, please could we have more details on the casting, apart from the 2 principals. For serious ROH ballet fans, this is a major factor in booking tickets.

  25. Emily Fergus responded on 23 May 2018 at 9:07am Reply

    Firstly, last night's cast - particularly Akane Takada's Odette/Odile and James Hay's Benno - were absolutely wonderful, as was the orchestra. I have to admit an affection for the last production, superannuated Goth that I am, but I am not wedded to it, and I thought the new set for Act III was a triumph.
    Taking it scene by scene... I loved the Prologue. It set up the relationship between Von Rothbart and the princess beautifully and worked perfectly with the Overture music. Act I was a tad monochromatic, and the choreography seemed to me weirdly less interesting than before, but, you know, fine. Act II was just lovely although while I realise that the new set opens up the stage and gives everyone more room to move (and they need it given the width of the swans' tutus), it just seemed strangely empty. The dancing was gorgeous, though, and Takada's lyricism was enough to make you concerned for her Act III Odile (completely unfounded as it turned out). Act III was fabulous, framed by that new and gorgeous set, and, although I felt the Spanish Dance was underpowered, Liam Scarlett kept the Ashton Neapoolitan Dance in! Hooray! (I remember Wayne Sleep doing it a million years ago...) And Elizabeth McGorian's queen was terrific.
    But in Act IV you lost me. I really didn't like the new ending. Did no-one listen to the score? The final chords are in a major key. It's triumphant. It's NOT suited to a Siegfried carrying the body of a dead swan-princess slowly towards the footlights. Where is the victory over death, the cathartic exaltation? Where were the swan-maidens on the ground, defying Von Rothbart's power?
    I've seen Swan Lake probably more than 30 times, and last night, for the first time in 50 years, I didn't shed a tear. I miss that.

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