Swan Lake

Playhouse (Queensland Ballet)


As the world mourns the death of Czech poet and politician Vaclav Havel (leader of the Velvet Revolution), this unusual production of Swan Lake is played out amidst the turmoil leading to the Russian Revolution of the Bolsheviks in 1917. Artistic director Francois Klaus takes us through the dramatic triangle of the last Russian Tsar, Nicholas, his future bride Alexandra and his beloved prima ballerina Mathilde Kschessinka.

The instantly recognisable but forever powerful music of Tchaikovsky is particularly apt for this setting. Guest conductor Andrew Mogrella and brilliant violinist Warwick Adeney lead the Queensland Orchestra in a melodic rendition of this score. One feels the stirring of Mother Russia in the grand tragedy which unfolds on stage.

This treatment is a repeat of the 2008 production but, when you’re on a good thing …

Keian Langdon gives a splendid performance as Rasputin amidst the intrigues of the Tsarist court. His steps are as artful as they are malign. Such deft footwork seems so rare these days in politics as in art.

The corps de ballet give a richness and texture to this tragedy. One senses not only the lyrical heartbreak of the swan but also the rent in the social fabric of the Russian masses. The tears of the swans do not merely fill a lake but spark a regime change.

Teri Crilly gives yet another strong performance. She exemplifies the depth of young talented Queenslanders in this company ready for the opportunity of principal roles. The idea of a Queensland Ballet company is not merely to give audiences access to sublime dance but also to provide pathways for our local young stars to shine in the firmament.

Clare Morehen dances beautifully in this production. She brings grace and virtuosity to this sad tale.

Regrettably there is no happy ending. Some things just cannot be adapted. As Robert Frost soberly observed, “there are roughly zones whose laws must be obeyed”.

3-21 December 2011

Duration: 2 hours with one interval (20 minutes)

— Matt Foley
(Performance seen: Fri 16th December 2011)