Osmolkina/Part, Royal Opera House/Coliseum, London

By Clement Crisp

Published: March 30 2009 23:40 | Last updated: March 30 2009 23:40

The happiest aspect of the swan-plague currently afflicting us has been the appearances as Odette/Odile by two St Petersburg ballerine. At Covent Garden, the Mariinskys Ekaterina Osmolkina has given performances partnered by Ivan Putrov. With American Ballet Theatre, Veronika Part (a Mariinsky artist now resident in the US) appears in that troupes manic staging at the Coliseum. Both demonstrated, in different but illuminating ways, the superiority of the Mariinsky understanding of wthis often misunderstood but sacred dance text.

American Ballet theatre's Swan Lake.

Voluptuous grandeur: Veronika Part with

Marcelo Gomes

Osmolkina proclaims herself an Odette of rare distinction from her first moment on stage. Her ravishing line long limbs exquisite in articulation the nobility of her training, and its stern ardours, have given her an instrument of unfailing expressive grace, a Stradivarius that she plays with a beautiful ease. Her dance-intelligence, the force of Odettes sorrows purely and potently shown from that first moment, tell of artistry that is sustained by an apostolic succession in St Petersburg, understanding passed from teacher to pupil over a century of performance.

Her style recalls the linear glories of those earlier divinities, Makarova and Osipenko. Like them, Osmolkina sings Odettes sad melodies with marvellous eloquence. Her Odile is malicious, beguiling, strong in means (and resourceful enough to rescue those damn fouettés from a mishap).

Veronika Part, on Friday night, was linked to another Mariinsky tradition, that of those intense beauties, those black pearls, Asylmuratova and Zubkovskaya, whose interpretations were fired by the intensity of their emotional involvement in a role. Part offers dancing and interpretation of a voluptuous grandeur, Odettes tragedy saturating movement and pose, Odiles malevolence an intoxication of the spirit that will dazzle Siegfried utterly. The role is luscious in phrasing, ever expressive, true.

With both these ballerine, Swan Lake became a vivid experience for their public and not (as so often here) a trip to the waxworks. To Ivan Putrov and Marcelo Gomes, their respective Siegfrieds, admiration for both dance and drama. We have been very fortunate.

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