American Ballet Theatre – Swan Lake
Thursday 28th August 2014
Lyric Theatre, Queensland Performing Arts Centre
As one of the world’s most famous ballet companies and known for its long history of brilliant choreographers and exceptionally talented dancers, there is a certain level of expectation that is synonymous with the name American Ballet Theatre (ABT). Last night’s performance of the beautiful classic Swan Lake, a tragic story of love and betrayal, certainly exceeded all expectations, as the company delivered an enthralling and emotional Opening Night at the Lyric Theatre. ABT’s Australian debut is exclusive to our very own Brisbane stage and as part of the innovative ‘International Series’ this is a remarkable and progressive achievement for Queensland Performing Arts Centre and Tourism and Events Queensland. As both American and Australian flags were raised and national anthems were sung, the scene was set for a spectacular performance and excitement and anticipation resonated throughout the auditorium.
The ballet opened with a first glimpse of the elegantly stunning “Odette” as she is transformed into the swan by the wicked sorcerer, Von Rothbart. Although very brief, there was a certain overwhelming sadness created in this powerful and chilling scene, shrouded in evil and darkness.
Act 1 quickly jumped into the contrasting and very colourful vibrancy of Prince Siegfried’s Birthday celebrations. There was a great deal of activity and energy in this scene, which was again matched in Act 111 in The Great Hall. The costuming was magnificent, bright and detailed throughout, depicting great attention to authenticity, opulence and extravagance. The lighting and set design were elaborate and realistic and created each of the different scenes to perfection, with interchanging sets, from the grand castle and its interior and elaborate grounds, to the tranquil lake and eerie, moonlit forest.
Queensland Symphony Orchestra was flawless, enhancing a sense of intimacy and warmth between the dancers,musicians and the audience.
Cory Stearns was a true prince; distinguished, commanding and convincing in his role as Prince Siegfried. His strength, control and precision were a joy to watch and his performance was both powerful and emotional. Hee Seo was every bit the Prima Ballerina. Her performance as Odette/Odile was exquisitely elegant, poised and convincingly ‘swan-like’. Her lines were stunning, feet neat and perfectly precise with a sense of lightness and effortlessness and her extensions and lifts were mesmerizing. Hee Seo portrayed both Odette and Odile beautifully, but on a personal note I preferred her enchanting innocence and fragility as the breathtaking Odette. Her solo and the Pas de Deux in Act 11 were a stand out.
Hee Seo had excellent articulation through her feet making her performance devoid of any pointe shoe noise.
The dual role of Von Rothbart was wonderfully portrayed by both Roman Zhurbin and Alexandre Hammoudi. The young cast of quintessential Swans and Cygnettes were delightful, captivating our attention in the moonlit scenes at the lake with their swan-like mannerisms.
Overall I felt that the Birthday party and Grand Hall scenes were danced by the company dancers with vibrancy; exuding happiness and light-hearted festivity.There were several stand-out solos and Pas de Trois in these scenes.
This was a truly memorable performance with a standing ovation and a multitude of “bravos” and accolades reverberated from an over-joyed audience as the dancers took their bows and the release of white confetti from the balconies above created the illusion of small white feathers floating gently to the floor as the curtains closed. Just magical.
Reviewer: Ashlea Smith
Swan Lake will be performed until Thursday 4 September 2014 and will be followed by ABT’s Three Masterpieces from 5 -7 September