Derek Deane’s 1997 production of Swan Lake for English National Ballet was originally staged as a vast in-the-round spectacle at the Royal Albert Hall, with a souped-up flock of swans and mighty quantities of dry ice.
Within the Coliseum’s proscenium confines, however, the pizzazz is inevitably dimmed, the smaller space highlighting some slightly inelegant patches of Deane’s choreography and Peter Farmer’s quaint-cum-fusty olde worlde designs.
Nevertheless, the company consistently impress. Precious Adams stands out, demonstrating lyrically silken wrists in Act I’s pas de trois and zesty authority in the Act III Spanish dance, alongside the slickly assured stylings of Aitor Arrieta and Daniel McCormick.
There’s even comic detail in the ensemble scenes: with lounging malevolence, one of Rothbart’s stumpy goblin assistants occasionally tweaks at the Queen’s lavish train.
Both principals frequently astonish. As Siegfried, Jeffrey Cirio – newly recruited from American Ballet Theatre after guesting with ENB last year – excels. Initially all smiles, he brings a searching intensity and yearning line to the exposed adagio of the prince’s first solo. It’s weltschmerz made manifest, rendered with the serious artistry necessary to even approach Alina Cojocaru’s Odette/Odile. Characteristically, Cojocaru shapes familiar steps with dramatic intelligence and a musical sensitivity as fine-tuned as the violin that accompanies both her white and black swan.
In the resistance and release of her Act II rubato phrasing we can read the quiet revelation of hope and a trepidatious sense of tragedy. As Odile, she’s a chimeric combination of allure and unavailability, lusciously unfurling limbs and devilish speed.