Oregon Ballet Theatre’s 2016-2017 “season of giants” continues this February with Artistic Director Kevin Irving’s bold adaptation of perhaps the most legendary ballet of all time, Swan Lake. While maintaining much of the original Lev Ivanov and Marius Petipa choreography which is the foundation of this unforgettable work, Irving enhances the story by weaving in a more complex drama surrounding the main role of Prince Siegfried. The new focus brings an exciting opportunity for a tour-de-force performance for the male lead in a ballet that has traditionally been considered a hallmark only for the prima ballerina. Irving’s staging is supported by OBT’s stellar artistic staff including Resident Choreographer Nicolo Fonte. The OBT Orchestra will be performing Tchaikovsky’s glorious score.
In his adaptation Irving takes inspiration from the composer’s early life as Tchaikovsky was remembered as a very sensitive, and impressionable boy. Similarly Irving’s Prince Siegfried is loved and doted on in a way that would arrest his development had destiny not intervened. Suddenly the young prince is thrust into position to marry and ascend to the throne - responsibilities for which he is completely unprepared. Irving further grounds the work by removing the traditional character of the sorcerer von Rothbart. Instead it is Siegfried’s father, the frail and dying King, who conjures up the famous Odette/Odile fantasy to teach his son to distinguish between reality and illusion. By the time of his coronation Prince Siegfried has matured into a capable leader. In an ending overflowing with hope, he realizes that love is its own magic and that the beautiful swan princess may have been by his side all along.
Since coming to OBT Irving has worked not only to challenge the company technically – as evidenced by the recent premiere of William Forsythe’s In the Middle Somewhat Elevated – but also to bring a theatrical richness to their every step, particularly in story ballets. Whether finding humor and poignancy in Ben Stevenson’s Cinderella or mining the emotional depths of James Canfield’s Romeo & Juliet, OBT’s dancers have gained recognition for their dramatic ability. Swan Lake will be no exception. OBT Principle Artists Peter Franc and Brian Simcoe will alternate in the role of Prince Siegfried. Both dancers are remembered for their raw and moving portrayals as Romeo in last season’s Romeo & Juliet. OBT favorite Xuan Cheng and the company’s newest Principal Artist Jaqueline Straughan will dance the quintessential roles of Odette and Odile. The drama is set off along the way by delightful characterizations particularly during the traditional dances of Act I which are fleshed out to make for a bright and even comic line up of maidens hoping to wed Prince Siegfried.
While known to be a champion of contemporary ballets, Irving has a great love for the classics and is eager to add this Swan Lake to OBT’s repertory. “The reason Swan Lake endures among ballet’s most loved masterpieces is due in great part to the majesty, beauty, and emotional depth of Tchaikovsky’s incredible score,” he observes.” Along with the extended sequences of 19th century choreography that form the backbone of classical ballet, the music helps us believe in a beautiful Swan Princess, and makes us believe as well in the power of love.”
Oregon Ballet Theatre presents Swan Lake
FEB. 18 –25, 2017
Keller Auditorium | 222 SW Clay Street, Portland, OR 97201
Ticket start at $29
Click HERE (link to: http://www.obt.org/1617-season/swan-lake/) for more information and to purchase tickets.