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...