From the moment Alexander Polianichko raises his baton the audience is spellbound with the glorious sound of the orchestra of the Mariinsky Theatre playing Tchaikovsky’s most famous ballet score. The curtains open to reveal some of the greatest dancers in the world performing with superlative finesse.
This 1950 production by Konstantin Sergeyev is no museum piece. Gone are the old-fashioned mime scenes that some connoisseurs still like to see, and the action moves speedily along.
In the duel role of Odette and Odile, Uliana Lopatkina gives an outstanding performance both technically and emotionally. As the black swan she is coldly alluring, drawing Siegfried to his fate without the vulgar fiery antics others sometimes use. As the prince Daniil Korsuntsev gives a refined and secure performance, supporting the ballerina while also displaying some bravura solos.
Andrei Ivanov as the jester dazzled with his multiple turns. Irina Golub, Ekaterina Osmolkina and Anton Korsakov beautifully danced the Act I trio with a smooth grace.¬†The swans and the famous dance for the four cygnets was excellent and the national dances were executed with exhilarating brio. As the sorcerer von Rothbart, Ilya Kuznetsov was demonic.
The corps were superbly rehearsed and the clatter of pointe shoes, sometimes an irritating feature of Russian companies, was missing as many dancers have now taken to wearing western brands. With a heritage of over 260 years and exceptional performances, the chance to see the Kirov is not one to be missed.