Swan Lake

Raising the barre

Liam Scarlett may not have torn up the rule book, but his new production is nothing short of a triumph.

Emma Byrne, Evening Standard

Royal Opera House Artist in Residence, Liam Scarlett’s acclaimed version of Swan Lake makes a triumphant return for its first revival. From the pas de chat Dance of the Cygnets to Tchaikovsky’s melodic masterpiece, it has always one of the most well-known, technically challenging and emotionally charged ballets. In this fresh incarnation, Marius Petipa’s and Lev Ivanov’s classical work is skilfully interwoven with Scarlett’s contemporary choreography to create a spellbinding modern spectacle.

The Royal Ballet Company in full feather

Scarlett’s much applauded 2018 production of Swan Lake at the Opera House was a newtake on tradition. The Company was a vision of ivory plumage, and John Macfarlane’s grand designs transformed the stage from the candles and gilded columns of the Prince’s palace, to an ethereal lake beneath a full moon. It’s a spectacular staging that carries through to the 2020 revival – and allows Tchaikovsky’s symphonic score to truly take flight.

A regal retelling

A tragic romance, Swan Lake tells the story of Odette – the princess cursed to be a swan by day, only returning to her human form after dark. Although she captures the heart of Prince Siegfried, the star-crossed pair are ensnared by the devious Von Rothbart – a character fleshed out in Scarlett’s version. He tricks the besotted Prince into declaring his love for the sorcerer’s daughter, in disguise.

The climactic pas de deux deserves a review in itself, as does all the superlative dancing from the production’s opening cast. But Scarlett’s directorial best comes in his handling of the ballet’s close.

Judith Mackrell, The Guardian

Find out more


5 March - 16 May 2020


Royal Opera House
Bow St
Covent Garden