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The Landmark at 57 West Presents The Royal Ballet’s Swan Lake
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The Landmark at 57 West Presents The Royal Ballet’s Swan Lake

- Offstage with the Dancers: Special Events
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The Landmark at 57 West
(The Landmark at 57 West Website)

The Royal Ballet’s
Swan Lake

(ROH Swan Lake Film Web Page)

Liam Scarlett, Choreography
(After Marius Petipa and Lev Ivanov)
John Macfarlane, Scenic / Costume Designer
David Finn, Lighting Designer
Music by Peter Ilyitch Tchaikovsky

The Royal Ballet
President, HRH The Prince of Wales
Kevin O’Hare, Director
Koen Kessels, Music Director and Conductor
Royal Opera House
Covent Garden, London

Press: Jim Byk:

Dr. Roberta E. Zlokower
August 7, 2018

Thanks to press agent, Jim Byk, I was invited to a screening of Liam Scarlett’s new Swan Lake for The Royal Ballet, filmed during a live 2018 performance at London’s Royal Opera House. It was absolutely gorgeous, and I have seen and often reviewed perhaps eight or more different versions of this Tchaikovsky classic, in New York and beyond. Mr. Scarlett’s scenic and costume designer was John Macfarlane, with David Finn as lighting designer, both creating unique mystical, mesmerizing flourishes to the visual ambiance as the ballet unfolded.

Prince Siegfried receives a hunting bow from his mother for his 21st birthday and dashes off to the forest, as soon as the celebratory drinks are quaffed. In the Bavarian forest glade, Siegfried is met by a swan, who is prisoner to the evil sorcerer Von Rothbart. This swan, Odette, is actually a lovely maiden and can only return to natural womanhood with true and devoted love. Siegfried is then deceived by Von Rothbart at a grand ball, as Rothbart’s daughter, Odile, arrives (danced by the same ballerina as Odette). Odile (with Von Rothbart whispering into her ear) seduces Siegfried into thinking she is Odette, and he immediately proposes marriage to her, sealing Odette’s tragic fate. The Queen had created the ball for Siegfried to choose one of several foreign princesses as his bride. Each princess had arrived with her own cultural dance ensemble, Polish, Spanish, Hungarian, and Italian. In the Petipa/Ivanov original versions and many subsequent productions, Odette and the corps ensemble wear a white swan costume, and Odile a black swan costume. The Scarlett and Macfarlane team stayed true to tradition, with the two mournful, dim lakeside scenes, with the pas de trois for Siegfried’s friend Benno and two of their lady friends, with the four cygnettes in syncopated, synchronized steps, and with the dramatic ballroom, black swan pas de deux, often performed in duet at galas and festivals. The plot was predictable, until the final scene. That scene was like film noir. It was wrenching, and Siegfried’s loss of love and Odette’s loss of life were palpable.

Marianela Nuñez, who has been favorably reviewed on these pages in live New York ballet performances, danced the role of Odette/Odile. Her Siegfried was Vadim Muntagirov, who has also been favorably reviewed. There was thick chemistry between the two, requisite to the credibility of the aesthetic, and tonight’s audience of balletomanes was visibly drawn to lean forward and enjoy the film. This was a sumptuously designed ballet, with Mr. Macfarlane creating an expansive outdoor garden event, with costumed guards and grand columns, at Siegfried’s palace for his Act I birthday celebration, and a stunning stairway and standing chandelier for the Act III birthday ball. The costumes for the corps swan ensemble were stiff and full-feathery, adding to the richly textured full ensemble lakeside scenes, with such an expansive stage. There’s nothing crowded on the Royal Opera House stage. Mr. Muntagirov’s two Siegfried costumes, designed to coordinate with Odette, then Odile, were simply cut, with white, then black tights and regal jacket. Ms. Nuñez’ costumes coordinated with the corps swans, but her black Odile costume was more embellished.

This new Royal Ballet Swan Lake production should last for decades, as most story ballet productions remain in repertory for many years. Its creative touches, in addition to a surprise ending, include a lavish costume for Von Rothbart. This sorcerer, in the prologue, lasciviously holds the girl, Odette, as he transforms her into his prey, adding to his harem of swan princesses, and, early in the ballet, he’s seen snaking through the shadows. The fading of the princely parties into forestial glades and a shimmering moonlit lake were enthralling, thanks to Mr. Finn’s extraordinary lighting effects. Ms. Nuñez perfectly rippled her back and shoulders, as Odette, in wing-like fashion, and, as Odile, she spun out her 32 fouettés without a pause. I would love to see this Royal Ballet production of Swan Lake again, live, or, at least on film.

It should be noted that the sparkling new Landmark at 57 West has a superb bar with cocktails and tapas, some interior theaters with reclining seats, and seating areas for socializing. It was truly a pleasure to attend this rare special film event at The Landmark at 57 West. And, kudos to The Royal Ballet.

Artists of The Royal Ballet in
Liam Scarlett's "Swan Lake"
Courtesy of Bill Cooper

Vadim Muntagirov as Prince Siegfried
Marianela Nuñez as Odile in
The Royal Ballet's Production of
Liam Scarlett's "Swan Lake"
Courtesy of Bill Cooper

Landmark Cinema Fruit Cocktail
Fresh Guacamole and Natural Chips
at JD's Place, The Landmark at 57 West
Courtesy of Roberta Zlokower

For more information, contact Dr. Roberta E. Zlokower at