Theatre ( ABT) has a limited-run (7 performances) Chicago engagement between April 15 and April 18.
I attended the sold-out 2 1/2 hour opening night ballet at the majestic Civic
Opera House. Coincidentally, the Civic Opera House is next to the Chicago River. In the future, whenever I cross the river by foot or car, I will always look to see if there is a swan gliding across the waves, to bring back fond memories of this special evening.
The Thursday night premier was a beautiful night both inside and outside. The soft night-time breezes, accompanied by the unusually warm 75-degree weather, welcomed the audience inside to see 90 magnificent ABT dancers accompanied by the live orchestra performing Peter Ilytich Tchaikovsky's most admired score.
Swan Lake is presented in four acts. Long before the story begins, we know it is the tragic tale of Odette, the beautiful Swan Queen who is imprisoned under the spell of the evil sorcerer, von Rothbart.
In Act I, the Queen mother insists that her handsome 21-year old son, Prince
Siegfried, choose a bride at the next evening's Ball before he becomes the King.
This sets the stage for the perplexed Prince to enter a moonlit clearing in the
forest, where he sees a magnificent swan in flight. The Prince takes aim at the swan with his crossbow, a birthday gift from his Queen Mother. To his astonishment, the swan transforms into a beautiful young woman, Odette, who explains that she is really a Princess trapped under the evil spell of the sorcerer von Rothbart. Her fate is to be a swan for eternity - unless a virgin youth swears eternal fidelity to her through marriage.
The first brief deep attraction between Odette/The Swan and The Prince escalates into the fairy tale story line of love lost, forgiveness, passion and finally true love as the two lovers throw themselves into the lake - seemingly united in life after death.
Four ingredients make Swan Lake a truly succulent experience.
First, there is the Russian musical composer, Tchaikovsky, whose glorious score seems uniquely suited for this, his first, ballet, composed in 1875-76.
The breathtaking current choregraphy by Kevin McKenzie is performed by the
acclaimed American Ballet Theatre (ABT), also known as America's National Ballet Company. McKenzie was a leading dancer with both The Joffrey Ballet and the National Ballet of Washington before becoming an ABT Principal Dancer in March, 1979. In October, 1992 he was appointed Artistic Director.
The American Ballet Theatre is one of the world's great dance companies. I
watched the two principal roles of Odette/Odile and Prince Siegfried performed by Paloma Herrera and Ethan Stiefel. They were magnificent dancers onstage. At each performance, there will be rotating key dancers in these two main roles.
Zack Brown is responsible for the lavish costumes and visually spectacular sets
including a lakeside Renaissance court, the foreboding forest and the stunning
eery Swan Lake.
Duane Schuler's lighting design enhances both the dancers and the magnificently simple scenery.
Swan Lake is performed at the C ivic Opera House, 20 North Wacker Drive, Chicago.
Friday, April 16 at 7:30 pm
Saturday, April 17 at 2 pm and 7:30 pm
Sunday, April 18 at 1 pm and 5:30 pm
Tickets range from $20 to $125 and may be purchased at the Box Office,
www.Ticketmaster.com and by phone at 800-982-2787
Photos: Marty Sohl