Watching the diversely-skilled acrobatic stunts which include human wheels, white swans on roller-skates to be punctured with humor and accompanied all the time by Tchaikovsky's ballet scores of Swan Lake, the discerning Royal Opera House audiences who have seen countless Swan Lake editions were struck afresh with this new interpretation.
A performer of the Guangdong Acrobatic Troupe performs during a press preview of the Chinese Acrobatic Swan Lake at the Royal Opera House in central London on August 5, 2008. The ballet runs at the Royal Opera House until August 10. [Agencies]
"This is the most miraculous and unique night," marveled Lilian Hochhauser who brings the show to the Royal Opera House (ROH) as part of the China season.
"They are full of skills. Although acrobatics is something different from those normally staged at the Royal Opera House, they still belong here," she noted.
Lilian got the idea to bring the show to London's Royal Opera House, one of the world's most prestigious places, when she saw it two years ago in Moscow. The idea had full support from Tony Hall, chief executive of the Opera House who is "enthusiastic to draw new audiences to shows other than Beethoven and Mozart".
But even for a professional promoter who has worked with ROH for 50 years, the total sell-out of the seven shows in the coming nights is quite a rarity. Not to mention the sell-out of 200 standing seats as well.
The 82-year-old promoter was the first to bring China acrobatics to Britain in 1974, and in ensuing years, Chinese wushu and Peking Opera all made their appearances here in London. This time, however, after some 20-year interval, she again wants to bring "proper" acrobatics to the stage of Royal Opera House.
Congratulating Lilian and her husband after the first night show, Monica Mason, artistic director of the Royal Ballet, thanked the couple for bringing to London a "special treat". "The audiences are so excited to see something so different and of such high quality."
Produced by Shanghai City Dance Limited and premiered in Beijing in 2006, Acrobatic Swan Lake has since embarked on a global tour with 200 shows to date to its credit. As part of China Now, a 6-month celebration of Chinese culture in Britain in the run up to the Beijing Olympics, it had visited Manchester for 5 shows before setting its feet in the Royal Opera House. The Guangdong Acrobatic Company will travel to Nottingham after the London leg before returning to China for the closing ceremony of the Beijing Paralympics in September.