Sunday, May 13, 2007

...AND hot men in tights.

For someone like me who is by no means a ballet enthusiast this weekend was something of a test with two ballets in three days. On Friday night I dipped my two in the water with Coppelia and today I saw Swan Lake.

It's funny what seeing two productions right after one another can do. Usually, I think, one of them suffers by comparison and such was the case here. I was a bit torn after seeing Coppelia. I thought the costumes were great, the set looked fantastic and the whole thing was... enjoyable. But that's about it. I think I wanted to like it more than I did. By comparison Swan Lake absolutely blew me away.

Granted it did have one of the most memorable scores ever composed to work with but, even given that, it was just a fantastic achievement. It was funny without being patronising, beautiful without being pretentious and uber sexy without making me squirm in the seat beside my mother. The whole thing was just... gorgeous and inspiring and easily one of the best productions I've ever seen. I don't actually remember being so excited by something since I saw Les Miserables for the first time and decided I wanted to be Gavrosh.

I sometimes feel that ballets, opera and so on are becoming more and more popularist in an attempt not to die out and appeal to people who aren't really into ballet or opera, or find them intimidating. This is understandable but it was half my problem with Coppelia - it felt a little bit like a panto without dialogue and with some dancing thrown in for kicks. The entire production felt a little bit like a giant wink at the audience.

This version of Swan Lake has obviously gone down a similar path in terms of not being a conventional ballet but somehow it works. Like Coppelia it has a sense of humour but it's a bit more restrained and under-the-surface, just waiting to flick around into tragedy. It's a production like this that really makes you realise how fantastic the theatre can be and how something like a ballet can do something that a really good book, play or movie just can't. Oh and did I mention the half naked men? Yup I should probably mention them...

8 comments:

observer said...

I felt kind of ripped off by swan lake because i went on opening night and there was a big problem. Whatever it was it made the first half feel like hard work. I don't know if that was just me. Second half was awesome though.

my name is kate said...

With all the fricking around it sounds like opening night would have been pretty different for obvious reasons. I loved the opening scene with the prince in the bed and all that, which really got me in the mood but it was prince’s first dance with the swans that did it for me (right before the interval). That was just AMAZING - it gave me chills! I love that part of the score too (You know the rather famous da da da da da daaa da daaa da daaa da da da da da daaa bit). And, yeah, the second half kicked arse, even with those outrageous faux-leather pants.

I wish I had gone opening night now just so I could have seen it twice.

observer said...

I think that part just before interval was where I was let down because it kind of felt like they were making it up as they went and it wasn't matching up with the music as a result. The famous da da da da da daaa da daaa bit didn't have the oomph you'd expect since that was what everyone came to see. Probably because they actually had rechoreographed it in the 20 mins before teh curtain went up.

Also the audience was really restless because it had been waiting for so long and I think that affected the whole show.

my name is kate said...

Ah that would be a huge difference. Apart from the little shit rustling her crisp packet behind me everyone seemed quite spellbound so that helped, and it's a pity that scene was so affected for the opening night because it was so moving yesterday. Just really amazing. (Sorry!) Though my brother-in-law cracked my sister up when she said afterwards: "God it's my worst nightmare being surrounded by all those swans pecking at me" and he said "oh are they swans?"

observer said...

I probably should point out that I really did like it. But it was a little disappointing because of the problems. Still glad I went though. Even though Mike described it as psychological torture - never one to pass up a bit of drama.

my name is kate said...

Andy takes these things very seriously and, at the end, was outraged by the Prince's death. "The swans are a metaphor so how the fuck did he die?" was his general consensus. But surprisingly I think he enjoyed it otherwise.

I nearly wet myself when the swans oozed out from under the Prince's bed and the lead popped up from within the bed itself - so good! Though even then I was still hoping somehow for a happy ending...

And I am interested to know why you think the um lead swan turned up at the party and was a total biatch to the Prince, schmoozing with his Mum etc? Poor lil' Princey...

observer said...

Isn't that the odette/odile thingy? I had trouble figuring out if that was going to happen becuase they weren't being played by females. I loved it when the swans started pouring out from under the bed. It was great. And I loved the shadow play with the queen and nurses. Fantastic.

my name is kate said...

Well yes I thought so too but it doesn’t quite work because there’s not the whole sorcerer story line so where exactly did this guy come from? It doesn’t bother me overly because I can fan-wank it but it does make my brain melt just a little…