Following a sold out season in Sydney in April, and fresh from performances in Adelaide, the magic of Swan Lake returns when Stephen Baynes’ masterful interpretation comes to Arts Centre Melbourne in June.
One of the most popular works staged by the Company, Swan Lake was created in 2012 to mark The Australian Ballet’s 50th anniversary by Resident Choreographer Stephen Baynes. This visually beautiful production embodies the Company’s quest to uphold heritage while striving to find new life in classic works.
Transformed into a swan by the evil von Rothbart, Princess Odette is able to regain her human form only at night. This cruel spell can only be broken by a vow of eternal love and fidelity. Lonely and disconsolate Prince Siegfried encounters Odette by a lake and swears his love for her.
The following evening a ball is held to celebrate Prince Siegfried’s coming of age. Von Rothbart appears with the beguiling Odile. Captivated, Siegfried is seduced by Odile, thereby breaking his vow and condemning Odette and her fellow maidens to remain swans for eternity.
Siegfried flees to the lake to beg forgiveness from Odette but it is too late. As she transforms into a swan for the last time the Prince, bereft at the loss of his beautiful swan princess, drowns himself in the lake.
Swan Lake has special significance for the Company: it was the first ballet ever danced by The Australian Ballet in 1962 at her Majesty’s Theatre in Sydney. Fifty years later, the new Swan Lake by Baynes entered the company’s repertoire in 2012.
His beautiful, traditional ballet is the perfect counterpoint to Graeme Murphy’s modern day Swan Lake, which was commissioned for the Company’s 40th anniversary, and which has toured across Australia and around the globe over this decade.
This is the first time since 2012 that the Company has brought back the traditional and much-loved Baynes version to Melbourne, and will be accompanied by Orchestra Victoria and lead by The Australian Ballet Music Director and Chief Conductor Nicolette Fraillon.
An ageless ballet that has enchanted audiences for centuries, Baynes combines grand scale and psychological intimacy. His treatment of Swan Lake is a reverential reimagining, respecting the traditions and techniques of classical ballet. The powerful work is complemented by Hugh Colman’s designs, which pit Edwardian glamour against the spectral beauty of the white acts. The celebrated costume and set designer showcases his love of the classics with this heritage production.
Colman’s extravagant and lavish designs further heighten the drama of the tragic love story. From the festive Edwardian costumes of the court to the spectacular ice-blue tutus of 24 swans on the moonlit lake, this production will captivate audiences of all ages.
An integral part of Swan Lake is Tchaikovsky’s score, one of ballet’s most recognisable pieces of music. Commissioned in 1875, it reportedly took the Russian composer a year to complete. From the first yearning bars, the music takes audiences to another world.
Swan Lake made its debut in Moscow in 1877 and is one of the world’s most performed ballets. This is the fourth interpretation to enter The Australian Ballet’s repertoire. In its various incarnations, Swan Lake has been danced by the company 612 times, making it the most frequently performed ballet in the Company’s history.
This is the 20th work that Baynes has created for The Australian Ballet and his third full-length ballet. Baynes studied at The Australian Ballet School before joining the company in 1976. He first experimented with movement in 1986, creating Strauss Songs, a piece that won an Australian Ballet choreographic competition.
With its bewitched Swan Queen, doomed Prince, and velvety rich score, Swan Lake is the ultimate night at the ballet for seasoned ticket holders and newcomers alike.
State Theatre – Arts Centre Melbourne, 100 St. Kilda Road, Melbourne
Season: 7 – 18 June 2016
Bookings: 1300 182 183 or online at: www.artscentremelbourne.com.au
For more information, visit: www.australianballet.com.au for details.
Image: Adam Bull and Amber Scott in Swan Lake – photo by Justin Ridler