Swan Lake is one of the quintessential masterpieces of the ballet genre, with the story and Tchaikovsky's music both timeless. I've found things to like about all the productions on DVD of Swan Lake(a vast majority), with the 1982 ROH performance my favourite. This Zurich production has a lot of impressive things but also things that could have been done better. The best thing for me was the lead performance of Paulina Semionova, her Odette is heart-breakingly elegiac and her Odile is appropriately cunning and seductive, both characters are danced with natural grace and technical elegance. Stanislav Jermakov matches her well, there are more expressive Siegfrieds dramatically, but he is handsome and masculine and dances powerfully. The lighting is excellent, and I loved the poetic and quite subtle touch at the end with Odette disappearing in rain with Siegfried following her. The choreography has its mix of traditional and modern elements, which gives the ballet its charm still while doing something a little different. The production is visually somewhat abstract-though less neoclassical than a lot of the Zurich ballet productions-but looks good, if occasionally a little too gloomy, and is cleverly designed. Things could have been done better for all the things that were done very well. The Corps De Ballet dance elegantly but lack character and sometimes they're not in sync with the orchestral playing. The orchestral playing though could have also been stronger, a lovely sound with good phrasing and dynamic range but at times plodding in tempo and more variety of tonal colour might have made a difference. The main problem is that although it is danced and choreographed wonderfully, on an emotional level it is lacking in passion and can come across as rather cold. All in all though, a solid and interesting production that could have been more. 7/10 Bethany Cox
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