The Mikhailovsky Ballet debuted in the UK only two years ago and now return to the London Coliseum with a season of five pieces. A restaging of Asaf Messerer’s important 1956 version of Swan Lake, originally produced by the Bolshoi, kicks off its repertory in a strangely low-key affair.
Stripped of most of the narrative, the production suffers from a lack of energy and pace, faltering under a weak Marat Shemiunov as Prince Siegfried. Long-limbed and gawkish, his prince is frustratingly one-dimensional.
It is left to guest dancer Polina Semionova to wow the audience with her heartfelt interpretation of both Odette and Odile. Semionova is a mesmerising dancer. As she lowers herself into an impossible arc, legs outstretched, she perfectly conveys the pain and sadness which the captivated Odette suffers.
Elsewhere, Denis Tolmachov shines as the playful, exuberant Jester, along with the finely tuned Cygnets and Spanish sections.
A careful restaging of Simon Virsaladze’s design makes for an opulent and sumptuous production, complete with swans gliding across the backdrop. Similarly, the costumes are saccharine, delicate and detailed reproductions of the original. Bright and colourful, we are even treated to a strange array of flowing, blonde male wigs.
Valery Ovysynanikov’s orchestra performs a superb rendition of Tchaikovsky’s masterpiece, coming to life most vividly during the group swan sequences. Act IV finally brings some urgency and poeticism to proceedings, with the swans dazzling through the final moments.
Overall, the production lacks any urgency, boldness or immediacy. Instead, it sashays its way clumsily through to a sugary happy ending.