Daniel Barenboim brought little magic to the pit and, moreover, watched the orchestra more than the stage – it gave the four (excellent) cygnets quite a turn when he accelerated during the danse des petits cygnes, and almost no-one managed to find the musical accent at the end of a variation.
Leonid Sarafanov danced beautifully but is no great actor and he received little stimulus from his partner; Alina Somova was monochromatic in her expression and, unlike Sarafanov, wasn't able to compensate by presenting an outstanding technique.
Mariafrancesca Garritano was excellent in the pas de trois, though Antonino Sutera's Rothbart seemed tiny beside the two Russian giants, and some technical errors took the shine off an otherwise confident performance. Other soloists were weak.
The true star was Nureyev's choreography which the corps de ballet gamely tackled and came out winning. They had clean lines and were precise in Nureyev's complicated weaving in and out, and the warmest applause was reserved for them.
Graham Spicer is a writer, director and photographer in Milan, blogging (under the name ‘Gramilano') about dance, opera, music and photography for people “who are a bit like me and like some of the things I like”. He was a regular columnist for Opera Now magazine and wrote for the BBC until transferring to Italy.
His scribblings have appeared in various publications from Woman's Weekly to Gay Times, and he wrote the ‘Danza in Italia' column for Dancing Times magazine.