REVIEW: Mikko Nissinen’s ‘Swan Lake’ returns in riveting and enchanting splendor
Mikko Nissinen’s Swan Lake will enchant you from the start.
Swan Lake has stood the test of time for generations and it is no mystery why. Seeped in regal splendor, Swan Lake is a visually-striking portrait of elegance and grandiosity similar to another one of Tchaikovsky’s classics, The Nutcracker. Both known for their iconic scores, mystical elements, and magnificent presentation, but Swan Lake’s sophisticated splendor, dark charm, intricate choreography and mirror image story of true love sets it apart from the rest. Like The Nutcracker, Swan Lake has a universal appeal and memorable qualities that even those who don’t care for ballet will still enjoy Swan Lake.
With seamless musical-direction by Mischa Santora, Tchaikovsky’s majestic score navigates a classic tale of love, torment, betrayal, magic, and unbridled joy as Boston Ballet rises out of Mikko Nissinen’s Swan Lake continuing live and in person at the Citizens Bank Opera House in Boston, Massachusetts through Sunday, June 5. Swan Lake will then stream from the comfort of your home from June 9 through June 19. Performed in memory of John W. Humphrey, Swan Lake has returned to the Boston Opera House for the first time since Mikko Nissinen re-imagined the ballet in 2016. This four-act performance has one intermission. Click here for more information and tickets.
Taking a mysterious and thrilling tone from the start, Swan Lake is a fanciful tale involving sought-after Prince Siegfried, portrayed with zest and charm by Patrick Yocum, who sets his sights on a flock of swans drifting over a misty and enchanted lake. Swan Queen Odette, portrayed with graceful fragility by Lia Cirio, catches his eye and it is love at first sight. It soon becomes clear that the swans were once women cursed by sorcerer Von Rothbart, depicted menacingly by Tyson Clark. Tyson Clark as Rothbart is an incredible and unpredictable force as he athletically and perilously tears through the mist as Prince Siegfried vows to set Odette free.
Golden-braided, ornate headpieces, flowing pastel garments, parasols, garlands, exquisitely feathered tutus and pristine crowns are just a glimpse into Robert Perdziola’s opulent and meticulously-detailed, handmade costumes that enrich the lush and picturesque royal garden setting as well as the haunting mirror image and mystical lake bathed in luminous blue moonlight by lighting designer Mark Stanley.
Marked by such precision, Mikko Nissinen’s choreography is ballet at its finest. Emily Entingh and Sage Humphries are visually-stunning rising gracefully and beautifully fluttering out of the mist. A gathering of cygnets demonstrate perfect synchronicity as they glide in lithe, delicate strokes. The swans are ethereal and immaculate as they simultaneously rise exquisitely out of a swallowing mist. It still stands as one of the beautiful displays of ballet I have ever seen.
In the castle gardens, dancers whimsically join together in a feast dance with goblets and joyfully present the prince with rich garlands. While the castle garden depicts almost a dreamlike setting, an equally opulent ballroom with vast ceilings lit in red later depict a livelier setting as a grand and dynamic lineup of guests gather to charm the kingdom including princesses, czardas, and Neapolitans.
Patrick Yocum is impressive as Prince Siegfried as he evokes loneliness and melancholy in an emotive and carefully-executed variation and then later in a flawless and joyful dance as if floating across the stage. Light and dark in Tchaikovsky’s Swan Lake is demonstrated impeccably in Lia Cirio in a complex, dual role. As guarded Odette, her every move diligent and yet her statuesque beauty and downcast demeanor enrich her mysterious and powerful presence. Tingling violin resonates in Tchaikovsky’s emotive score as Cirio and Yocum share a hesitant and sweet encounter. He tenderly lifts and comforts her at every turn. Cirio can craftily engage an audience and masters her dual role as mysterious and confident Odile. That striking look she gives reminded me of the fire she brought to her 2020 performance in Boston Ballet’s Carmen. Cirio’s cunning smile and playful charisma gleam as Yocum takes her hand playfully and yet, almost possessively in a spellbinding and exhilarating dance.
Swan Lake is such a haunting and beloved tale of tender grace and arduous passion that, like The Nutcracker, it has been adapted in various forms for stage and screen over the years including Darren Aronofsky’s Academy award-winning Black Swan. Mikko Nissinen has adjusted a few scenarios in Swan Lake since its re-imagining in 2016, but only for its betterment to create an even more thrilling, illuminative and memorable experience.
Mikko Nissenen’s Swan Lake continues live and in person at the Citizens Bank Opera House in Boston, Massachusetts through Sunday, June 5. Swan Lake will then stream from the comfort of your home from June 9 through June 19. Click here for more information and tickets.