Friday, 2 August 2013

Graeme Murphy's Swan Lake

Photo: Jeff Busby. Courtesy of The Australian Ballet.
Graeme Murphy's Swan Lake
The Australian Ballet

I must confess at the outset that this was my very first ballet. A shocking admission, I know, so it was with no small amount of expectation that I went to see Graeme Murphy's version of Swan Lake in Melbourne. Inspired by the love triangle of Diana, Princess of Wales, Prince Charles and Camilla Parker Bowles, Odette, played by Amber Scott, is doubtful of her betroths love for her on the eve of their wedding - and with good reason. Prince Siegfried, played by Adam Bull, is caught in the spell of past love Baroness von Rothbart, played by Lana Jones and their deceit becomes so apparent that it sends the fragile Odette insane with doubt and she is committed to a sanatorium.

Devastated by her one true loves deceit, Odette's only solace comes in the form of a dream world with swan maidens and where she herself was a swan. The costumes of the swans is stunning with the traditional tutu replaced with feather-like drapery. 

After her release from the sanatorium Odette attends a party, uninvited, held at the home of the Baroness who now firmly has the Prince within her hold. Captivated by her poise and sel-possession the Prince falls deeply in love with his former bride, much to the vehement anger of the Baroness who, in turn, attempts to have Odette re-committed. She flees and is discovered later by the Prince, their love seemingly restored and perfect if only for that brief moment. Realising the third person in their marriage will never truly be in their past, Odette throws herself into the lake surrounded by a bevy of black swans. The Prince never loves again and for the rest of his life mourns the loss of his one true love.    
Photo: Jeff Busby. Courtesy of The Australian Ballet.
Now, no one bothered to let me know how tragic the ending to this love story would be. It is a testament to the cast that I was filled with a sense of loss and epic sadness at its conclusion. The sets were beautiful in their simplicity, in particular the sanatorium was incredibly clever, with none of the trimmings detracting from the performance. Swan Lake was as magical as I'd expected and I was swept on a wave of emotions and a resplendent feast of visual delights from start to finish.   
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