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Diana Vishneva is a superlative Odette-Odile who seems born to the role: elegant, beautifully proportioned, with long expressive arms, a slender build and immaculate classical technique.
As the princess turned into a swan by the sorcerer Von Rothbart, this St Petersburg-born ballerina is heart-melting as Odette, yet she makes a surprisingly coquettish, glamorous Odile.
With the redoubtable Jose Manuel Carreño as her Prince Siegfried, they are a genuinely romantic partnership, one of intense rapport – something you don’t always find in Prince-Swan couples these days. Vishneva’s flawless Act Two pas de deux with Siegfried spooled out seamlessly, each solo variation nuanced with delicate detail and sharp footwork.
But it takes more than a fine Swan Queen to make the ballet successful. Artistic director Kevin McKenzie has adapted the Marius Petipa, Lev Ivanov 1895 original to his own requirements, without introducing incongruous plot twists or even an entirely original work as some other choreographers have done.
In this version, all the set pieces are there, most with what are thought to be the original choreography. Outstanding in this respect is the Act One pas de trois thrillingly danced by Herman Cornejo, his sister Erica Cornejo and Xiomara Reyes. Cornejo awed the audience with his spectacular jumps, landing remarkably softly after his high, elastically easy take-offs. With his sister’s sparkling precision and Reyes’ quicksilver
lightness, the three created some of the greatest excitement and sparked the loudest applause of the evening, even though Tchaikovsky’s music for these variations may sound a bit thumpy at times under the baton of conductor Ormsby Wilkins.
McKenzie has given Von Rothbart an alter-ego with the creepier monster played by Isaac Stappas and the sexy stranger who stirs up the palace party in Act Three, squiring Odile and seducing the prince’s choice of prospective brides, suavely portrayed by Sascha Radetsky.
Frederic Franklin at age 92 might have portrayed the prince’s tutor as an old dodderer. Not a bit of it. He was a spry and lively – a mentor to be reckoned with. As always, a joy.
No Swan Lake is successful without a well drilled corps de ballet, particularly in the ballet blanc scenes. Again, the company rose to the occasion, maintaining its reputation.
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