On Friday night, I went to see Swan Lake performed by the Boston Ballet. It was an amazing experience, and truly visually stunning.
The performance was at the Boston Opera House, which opened in the late 1920’s as a grand theater on the vaudeville circuit. It was restored in the early 2000s, and the workmen did a wonderful job. Everything is opulent, from the gold leaf on the ceilings and walls, to the fresco on the ceiling and the chandeliers hanging in every hallway.
We took our seats only minutes before the lights dimmed and the usual before show announcements came on. It was a slightly different version of Swan Lake, as Mikko Nissinen (the Artistic Director) has adapted some of the choreography. Since I’d never seen it before, I didn’t notice a difference, but I was told that one of the most obvious changes was the addition of dramatic pauses at key moments.
The ballet tells the story of Odette, the Swan Queen, and Prince Siegfried and their romance that goes very wrong due to some sorcery and Odile, the Black Swan. I’m glad that the program included a brief synopsis of what happened in each act, since I’m pretty sure I would have missed half the plot points without it.
Soon, the live orchestra began and the dancing began. Some of the dancers were absolutely mesmerizing- Odette, Odile, and the evil sorcerer in particular. They were all such talented dancers and they exuded such feeling as they danced. Odile’s pas de deux was so impressive- the audience kept on bursting into applause. The dancer who played Prince Siegfried was also talented, but I didn’t think he had as much magnetism, and he seemed to tire as the play went on. At first, all of his landings were silent, but as the performance went on, they became much more audible.
The corps also put on a magnificent show. I think my favorite was when they were all dressed as swans and were dancing in rows, perfectly in sync and so graceful. They also had some great dance numbers as members of court.
The dancers were great, but what really added to the show were the costumes and the scenery. Odile’s outfit as the Black Swan had something like 4,000 crystal jewels. The workmanship was incredible, and even from far away she just sparkled in the lights. Closeups of some of the costumes can be seen here.
The backdrops were really impressive as well. They ranged from pretty intricate scenes from court to a quiet night view by the lake during the swan scenes. In two of the swan scenes, the set crew also used either dry ice or smoke to create a fog effect. It was so impressive to see the curtain open to just white fog, then as it slowly dispersed, to see the swan dancers appear on the floor.
It was such a great experience to go see Swan Lake. I had the wonderful music of Tchaikovsky stuck in my head for the rest of the evening and into my dreams.