San Francisco Ballet Swan Lake Review - Sofiane Sylve and Carlo Di Lanno Shine under the Proscenium Arch

On April 12, 2017. 

Sofiane Sylve Courtesy of San Francisco Ballet c Erik Tomasson

The San Francisco Ballet took command of the War Memorial Opera House stage on Wednesday night, dancing Tchaikovsky’s Swan Lake, as Choreographed by Helgi Tomasson.  I, and the entire audience, were enthralled as we were all transported  in time to watch the evil sorcerer Von Rothbart turn the beautiful Odette into a Swan, followed throughout the evening as Odette longs to escape with the seductive Prince Siegfried, only to be thwarted at every turn by Von Rothbart’s evil sorcery.  


Classical Ballet is about the precise execution of movement and the esteemed Helgi Tomasson’s choreography creates movements with effortless flow and unity while building a sense of the impending tragedy throughout the night.    

Courtesy of San Francisco Ballet c Erik Tomasson

I was absolutely mesmerized as the stunning Principal Dancer Sofiane Sylve, playing the double role Odette/Odile, executed every move flawlessly. Sylve cajoled the audience with a turn of an ankle, the bend of her wrist, a glance, and a smile. She floated, she twirled, arms and legs lifted aloft I believed she was flying on air as rim light silhouetted her perfect moves.  With Odette introduced first, we understand this production is definitely Odette’s story.


Carlo Di Lanno as the seductive Prince Siegfried dances with a sublime power, as he plies Odette and the audience with hope and spirit, for a time making us believe he will overcome all evil. The Evil Sorcerer Von Rothbart is performed menacingly by Principal Dancer Alexander Reneff-Olson, with  along with Principal Dancer’s Katita Waldo as the Queen Mother, and Richardo Bustamante as Wolfgang, The Tutor, who are both superb in their roles.

Courtesy of San Francisco Ballet c Erik Tomasson

The San Francisco Ballet’s production of Swan Lake premiered in 1940, and the current production in 2009, both at the  San Francisco War Memorial Opera House, on Van Ness. Built in 1932 as one of the last of the Beaux-Arts buildings in the United States, it was built to honor those who had served in the Great War.


Photo courtesy of War Memorial Opera House / c Joel Puliatti

Boasting a Grande interior decorated with ornate gilded figurative sculpture which served to compliment the exquisite figurative dance on stage, it was a perfect setting for the lush Russian story.

Photo courtesy of War Memorial Opera House / c Joel Puliatti

Photo courtesy of War Memorial Opera House / c Joel Puliatti

The theater is highlighted by the high barrel vaulted ceiling with enormous glass and metal chandelier, and the stage is set forth perfectly with it beautiful proscenium arch, framing the stage elegantly.

Courtesy of San Francisco Ballet c Erik Tomasson

Swan Lake is a Marquee Ballet Event, the classic story originating with the essential Russian love of romance, represented by the image of the Swan, conjoined with fanciful galas and characters throughout.  Swan Lake had its world premier in March 1877 by the Bolshoi Ballet, at the Bolshoi Theater in Moscow. It was originally choreographed in two acts by Julius Reisinger. Even for those unfamiliar with classical music and ballet, there are measures sure to be recognized.


Courtesy of San Francisco Ballet c Erik Tomasson

Russian folk tales endure, telling us of Love’s epic battle with evil, taken here to lofty heights with the music composed by Peter Llyich Tchaikovsky, and this night conducted by David LaMarche. The beautiful sounds of the live orchestra highlighted with a couple of astonishingly beautiful violin solos delivered by Cordula Merks


 With a Company of nearly one-hundred the production was highlighted by lavish costumes and details attended to with perfect hair and makeup, and all transformed magically, with such superb stage lighting as to create Magic for the entire evening.

Courtesy of San Francisco Ballet c Erik Tomasson

Swan Lake, by the San Francisco Ballet was a `Bravo’ moment for the entire Company. The last two shows of the current Repertory Season will feature Trio, also to be choreographed by Helgi Tomasson, running April 05 – April 18, followed by another classic, Cinderella, choreographed by Christopher Wheeldon, April 28 through May 07.

Helgi Tomasson Courtesy of San Francisco Ballet c Erik Tomasson

Find out more about The San Francisco Ballet here, as well as get information for upcoming performances.


Watch for my upcoming Articles here in Splash Magazine, about Fashion, Art, and Performance, as well as special Travel projects, coming soon.  Dance images herein provided courtesy of San Francisco Ballet, c Erik Tomasson.

Comments, Likes, and Shares all appreciated. Contact me via email or on Facebook PM.

Greg Autry Instagram  gregautry.cga  Greg Autry Twitter  @CGAGreg



Composer: Peter Ilyich Tchaikovsky

Artistic Director & Choreographer: Helgi Tomasson

Black Swan Pas de Deux and Act II Choreography: after Marius Petipa and Lev Ivanov

Scenic and Costume Design: Jonathan Fensom

Lighting Design: Jennifer Tipton

Projection Design: Sven Ortel

Hair, Wig, and Make-Up Design: Michael Ward

Assistant to Mr. Tomasson on this Production: Lola de Avila

David LaMarche  -  Conductor

Cordula Merks  -  Violin

Eric Sung   -  Cello





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