Tchaikovsky's classic ballet has a triumphal outing in its Los Angeles production featuring the innovative and masterful choreography of Graeme Murphy and inspiring performances by the principals and troupe of the Australian Ballet, now one of the leading international ballet companies. Murphy's Swan Lake, playing at the Los Angeles Music Center, is a brilliant mix of classical and modern style, giving the oft-produced ballet a freshness and contemporary flavor.
Commissioned in 2002, and performed around the world, this production brings a lightness and sense of humor to the story of the innocent Odette who falls in love with Prince Siegfried, but is sent into madness by his betrayal. The rivalry between Odette (Madeleine Eastoe) and Baroness Von Rothbart (Lana Jones) is pointed, but tempered by whimsical choreographic touches that offer a modern and even ironic tone to their fits of jealousy as they battle for the affections of Prince Siegfried (Kevin Jackson).
The Australian Ballet is a company of the highest caliber, exemplified by the seamless presentation that incorporates memorable costumes and sets, as well as an exceptional corps de ballet and top-notch principals. Eastoe captures the essence of Odette -- both her innocence and her unbreakable will -- and she perfectly embodies the expressiveness of Murphy's choreography as she shifts effortless from classical poses to modernist gestures. Jones is equally impressive, with a grace and stature that personify her character. And Jackson is an excellent and daunting Siegfried, caught between conflicting emotions.
Sets and costumes by Kristian Fredrikson are outstanding -- finding a happy medium between the tragic yet fanciful story and the lightness of tone set by Murphy. Music director and conductor Nicolette Fraillon admirably conducts the fine orchestra in Tchaikovsky's timeless score.