Customer Reviews: Tchaikovsky: Swan Lake
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4.3 out of 5 stars
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on March 20, 2006
I have 5 or 6 productions of Swan Lake on VHS and DVD - including the Bolshoi, the Royal Ballet at Covent Garden, the Kirov and a few others. When I first saw this Swedish production I was absolutely stunned. It is marvelous. The sets and costumes, the orchestra, the choreography and, most of all, the dancers, especially the principals. Nathalie Nordquist and Anders Nordstrom are outstanding as Odette/Odile and Siegfried.

I will look no further for my "perfect" Swan Lake.
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on July 2, 2005
Let's start with the main positive point: A better-crafted Act 4 does not exist. Period. Now as to the negatives: First, Act 3 is the unbearably long, "unabridged" version which is (almost) never performed on stage, because all dramatic impact is lost. Second, earlier on in Act 2, Siegfried spends too much time wandering around aimlessly with an exceedingly "gay" looking crossbow, at a time that instinct (and the music) tells you that swans should be coming on stage. What a nuisance! But despite its flaws (poor lighting, as another reviewer pointed out, being one of them), this is a worthwhile addition to any serious ballet fan's collection.
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on June 12, 2009
Like others I have several different versions of this classic but what I liked most about this production was its consistency- all the parts come together and integrate as a total satisfying package.The colour palette fits,the lighting is suitably moody,the costumes work (beautifully) while being rightly non-committal about the period of the piece and the characters are convincing.As the Artistic Director says in his interview,the strength of the Company is in its theatricality and this dvd shows that so well. As for the dancers,this version is a warm, human drama not over-emphasising technique for the sake of it- thus maintaining the illusion in persuading us that the situation is believable.If icy technique is for you try Letestu and the POB. For me there are two defining moments with Nordquist- the physical reaction in act 2 when she accepts that Siegfried truly loves her, and the flash of her eyes in act 3 when she first meets him as the Black Swan- both significant moments which define the character.Yes she is young (so?) but what ability! And her partner Nordstrom not only looks the part but dances so well,as do all the supporting cast,particularly Rothbart who is one of the best ever.Interesting that Peter Wright has referenced Star Wars in the final resolution which also is one of the best to be seen. Coherence at last !
This is an excellent buy with unobtrusive camerawork and superb surround sound- it's the one I will be showing to the Grandchildren as a fine example of a deservedly famous ballet.
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on May 1, 2005
Before I begin, let me mention that I was trained as a classical ballet dancer until I was 15 (at which time I was forced to stop due to injury), and feel that I can describe myself as a relative authority on ballet technique.

As mentioned by others, the sets and costumes in this production are beautiful. The first act especially is lavishly dressed in a Gothic style, which is an interesting variation on other productions. The dark, rich colors in the first and third acts contrast nicely with the pastel blues that are inevitably used in the second and fourth acts. It is obvious that this production is meant to endure with this company.

The dancing, however, is unfortunate. While as a whole the men are technically superior, their acting is below par. As far as the women go, the arms and hands of this company are not as fluid and expansive as they ought to be when portraying the swans. Likewise, their feet lack the articulation necessary for such a classical work. The short, muscular build that this company seems to favor does not compare to the ethereal, sinuous swans of the Russian companies, and their dancing is similarily earthbound.

The principals are also disappointing. Anders Nordstrom dances a Siegfried that is forgettable and poorly acted, though, as I said before, his technique is excellent. Nathalie Nordquist is obviously young, and has not yet mastered the subtle acting necessary to make the ballet soar. The black swan looks awkward on her, as if she tries too hard to seem evil, where her dancing should make it clear. Her technique is imperfect, and while her extensions are certainly sufficient, they are often not precisely placed. The famous fouettes in the third act travel a disappoingly large distance, when they are not supposed to move at all. Her arms, like those of the corps, are not reminiscent of a swan's wings at all.

Overall, despite the number of people onstage, this production is missing the feeling of epic ballet that is so present in other productions. The second act seems small and inelegant, and the third lacks the gradeur of a palace.

I would not recommend this version of Swan Lake, as there are so many others that are decidedly superior to this one.
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on May 8, 2008
I need not go into detail, as the other five star reviewers have said nearly all that need be said about this excellent production and performance by the Swedish Ballet. I would add only that Swan Lake is a story ballet that requires acting as well as dancing. Without abandoning gestures inherent in the original choreography, the Swedish dancers act their parts with both passion and restraint, whereas the Royal Ballet rather vapidly employ generic gestures copied from the Russians (who generally do such miming with greater flow and grace than the English). When I have a craving for the dark beauty of Swan Lake, I nearly always choose the Swedish version over any others.

In fact, I have gradually given away or sold off all my other Swan Lake DVDs except that of the even darker, uniquely daring but profoundly effective production by Matthew Bourne starring Adam Cooper with all of the swans expertly danced by men. Tchaikovsky - Swan Lake (Matthew Bourne)

In any case, the Swedes deserve five stars and more for their stunningly beautiful and refreshing (well, at times scary) 19th Century Gothic presentation of the original story and choreography.
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on January 9, 2005
I am moving to Sweden soon and therefore I thought I'd check out their classical ballet since I am a ballet lover. There are two pluses and that's why I gave two stars, but unfortunately, these two stars have nothing to do with the dancing itself. The first star is given for supplying a plausible reason why there is only the queen and a prince who's been pressured to marry soon (The king's funeral starts this Swan Lake) and that the set and custumes are gorgeous. The second star is given for good camera work, that allows for a good viewing of the dancing. Precisely because of these two pluses the disappointment at the end is great. The prince and the swan princess are wooden, no chemistry at all. The whole performance is permeated with a somberness, even when the prince chances upon the Swan and supposedly falls madly in love with her. I couldn't feel the passion. On top of the lacking of emotion, the technique by both the leading dancers are not up to par. The DVD was recorded in 2002, and the modern, up-to-date camera work means I really got to see the footwork--and in this case, the lack of. Swan Lake is a hard ballet to sit through if the combination of charisma AND technique is not present. Let's face it, Swan Lake is long and the story line ridiculous. If the audience is not mesmerized by the dancing and the emotion, what will make them stay? I won't be going to the Swedish Opera House unless others are performing.

Last thought: I know the Artistic Director rambled on about "going back to the roots" and "authenticity." Let's face it: Swan Lake has evolved over time. That evolution is the reason why it remains one of the most-performed and wide-spread ballet. If authenticity means over-the-top drama and rigid execution of choreography, Swan Lake, or any other great ballets, would have been swept into obscurity long ago.
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on August 11, 2014
The best performance!
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on December 26, 2003
I just do not get it how this production could be appretiated by some viewers. I'm no expert but I have seen many productions of "swan Lake" including Royal Ballet (UK), Opera of Paris, Boshoi and ........ In this production, those dancers seem to be amateur, the best thing I can say they arr second class danders (if not third class). If you have some standard regarding ballet dancing and don't want waste your money, don't buy it. I regreted that I bought it.
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