MATTHEW BOURNE’S SWAN LAKE | London, Sadler’s Wells

For those not satisfied with London’s four different productions of Tchaikovsky’s ballet The Nutcracker, audiences can check out Tchaikovsky’s other ballet hit this Christmas season too, in a new, slightly tweaked version of Matthew Bourne’s groundbreaking production, which premiered in 1995 at Sadler’s Wells.

“The idea of a male swan makes complete sense to me,” says the director and choreographer. “The strength, the beauty, the enormous wingspan of these creatures suggests to the musculature of a male dancer more readily than a ballerina in her white tutu.”

This does, naturally, put a homosexual spin on the relationship between the tortured prince (Dominic North) and the lead swan (Max Westwell), and also has a strong tie to Tchaikovsky, whose homosexuality caused a number of complications in his life. However, at the core of this tragedy isn’t a gay romance, but a mother’s neglect. When the swan cradles the prince like a baby, it is not as a lover but because the queen (Katrina Lyndon) never could.

Musically as well, this new production excels, with Benjamin Pope conducting a 30-piece orchestra. 1st violinist Gina McCormack gives some lengthy, concert hall worthy solos, and the brass sound particularly confident and energised. A sold-out crowd and a roaring, standing ovation shows the continuing love for Bourne’s masterpiece.

The tragedy lives on until 27 January 2019. Tickets from £12.

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