And now it's set to wow an even wider public, when BBC Four makes it its Christmas Day ballet offering.
The Royal Ballet’s Artist in Residence, Liam Scarlett, was entrusted with the mission to replace the company’s decades old, and truth to tell, never much loved production with a new, eye-filling, no expense spared Swan Lake, without messing too much with the established storyline.
And, of course, keeping Tchaikovsky’s glorious score.
That he did with great flair and the help of magnificent, richly detailed designs by John Macfarlane. Scarlett followed the original Petipa/Ivanov choreography, but included an addition by Frederic Ashton and a few sequences of his own.
He also added a few plot details: in a prologue we see the princess being turned into a swan by the sorcerer Von Rothbart, who is simultaneously an ambitious courtier, the widowed Queen’s right hand man, plotting to steal the crown for himself.
The swans of Acts 2 and 4 recover their classical tutus, which in the previous production had been replaced by knee-length skirts that never failed to cause very vocal consternation among some critics.
And for the ballet’s premiere, conscious of the importance of gaining wide public and critical acceptance for the expensive new production, the Royal Ballet gave Scarlett the very best of the company, with many principals – Francesca Hayward, Akane Takada and Alexander Campbell, for example – on show doing more modest soloist roles.
The central roles of Odette/Odile and Prince Siegfried were given to the glorious pairing of Marianela Nuñez and Vadim Muntagirov: he, elegant nobility personified with a spotless technique; she, the epitome of the grand ballerina with her absolute control and deeply affecting ability to convey emotion.
This was the cast filmed for the cinema relay, which will now be shown on BBC Four on Christmas Day. We can hardly think of a better feel-good finale to the big seasonal feast.
Note: The Royal Ballet's Swan Lake will be available to view on iPlayer for a limited period after broadcast
|What||BBC Four, The Royal Ballet, Swan Lake|
|Where||BBC Four | MAP|
On 25 Dec 18, 19:00 Dur.: 3 hours approx