Having never been to the ballet before, neither of us had any expectations going in. All we knew was that the music would be Tchaikovsky and the drinks would be expensive.
We sat on the back row of the Grand Tier, the farthest (and cheapest) seats from the stage. From the very first note, The English National Ballet Philharmonic amazed the audience – even those of us miles away. Situated under the stage, the renowned orchestra features some of the UK’s best classical musicians.
Swan Lake follows Prince Siegfried, the first act showcasing his magnificent birthday celebration. Siegfried, with his newly gifted crossbow, stumbles upon a flock of swans while hunting in the second act. The swans, he discovers, are trapped princesses and have been imprisoned by an evil half-bird sorcerer, Rothbart. Prince Siegfried pledges his love and devotion to the Swan Queen – Princess Odette.
In the third act, Siegfried returns home and tells his mother about his newfound love. She meets him with resentment and counters an array of young women for him to pick from. Rothbart interrupts the procession, with his daughter – Princess Odile, disguised as Princess Odette. The prince falls for Rothbart’s trick and is enchanted by Odile.
The rest of the act displays the breathtaking performance of Siegfried and Odile, with the heartbroken Odette watching from afar.
The final act sees Siegfried discover the truth and go back to the lake to reunite with Odette. We witness the showdown between Siegfried and Rothbart, with a climatic ending that leaves you emotional.
There are four acts of around 45 minutes, each with a distinct set design. They are all subtle and expertly painted, so they don’t take the audience’s attention away from the ballerinas. Along with the extravagant costume designs, Swan Lake is one of the most visually pleasing pieces of art you could ever see.
The set design is truly incredible, and the theatre is just as awe inspiring. The Palace Theatre is a monumental historic theatre, situated on Oxford Street – right by Manchester Metropolitan University, and a short walk from the University of Manchester.
The Palace holds roughly 2000 people, with a price range for everyone; tickets range from £13 up to £80. Price varies on demand so definitely get in early for the best deals!
No one could deny the beauty of Tchaikovsky’s music in pairing with the elegance of the dancers on stage. Derek Deane’s direction elevated Tchaikovsky’s well-established romantic style. I struggled to convince myself that I was not by the lakeside watching a tragic love story unfurl.
We would recommend Swan Lake to anyone and everyone, even if you have never shown an interest in ballet or classical music. There is no need to have any knowledge of the performance beforehand because its beauty and drama will soon have you hanging on the edge of your seat in awe.
Swan Lake finished its run at the Palace Theatre on October 8 – the last stop of its UK tour until a stint at the London Palladium from January 11-22.