SWAN LAKE – San Francisco Ballet’s New Vision, Gone Fishin’

Helgi Tomasson’s Swan Lake is a sorry disappointment. The beloved ballet by Tchaikovsky is ground zero for companies that include the Classics, and the ultimate qualifier for those deemed as “World Class”. This production, designed by Jonathan Fensom – whose previous ballet experience amounts to zip – is a sinker and for its reported budget of three million dollars, a money pit. Subscribers beware – this turkey was built to trot for another 15 years. Unless a Kirov Tour lands somewhere near the Bay Area, this Swan Lake will be on SF Ballet’s flight plan come the roaring ’20s. Tchaikovsky’s ballet has been floating many a company for the past 132 years; its across-the-board appeal and tenacious hold upon the universal psyche requiring no measure of defense. But this “World Premiere” of the Tomasson/Fensom collaboration is a defensible tomato-tosser.


San Francisco Ballet in Tomasson’s Swan Lake.
Photo, Erik Tomasson

At best, the sets and costume designs are a mish-mash of styles lacking purpose and unity. The wig of the Queen Mother is a cross between the Bride of Frankenstein and a moldy beehive, while the Lulu-cut and downy caps of Odette/Odile push the buttons on Sally Boles singing “Don’t Tell Mama”. The droopy drawers of Prince Siegfried may be somewhat Napoleonic, but the frilly collar and reptilian make-up of the evil Von Rothbart is strictly garage sale Drag Queen. Tomasson’s conception of the story and, thus, touches to the choreography (Act II being untouchable) and shuffling of musical bits within the score will amount to a minor footnote in the overall history of Swan Lake. But in the worldwide lens of Classical Dance, San Francisco Ballet has just taken a swan’s nose dive.

Wednesday night, February 25th, in the dual roles of Odette and Odile – shining through, above and beyond it all – was Lorena Feijóo. Since her previously captivating performance in (the now retired) production of 2006 and – through unfortunate events that for two seasons deprived our view of her in Don Quixote and Giselle – Lorena Feijóo re-emerges supreme. With Martin West at the podium, Roy Malan on solo violin, and cellist David Kadarauch – the music of Tchaikovsky’s ultimately glorious and tragic heroine flows through her as light through a prism. She projects all the colors of longing, seduction, despair, and forgiveness.


Lorena Feijoo and Quinn Wharton
in Caniparoli’s Ibsen’s House. Photo, Erik Tomasson


Lorena Feijoo and Pascal Molat in Forsythe’s in the middle, somewhat elevated. Photo, Erik Tomasson

At the dawning of what is the peak of her career, Lorena Feijóo is exquisitely beautiful, in Olympic (centerfold) condition, and possessed of the artistic genius, transcendent style and fiery grace that catapults a prima ballerina toward everlasting Fame. Lorena Feijóo is a consummate actress. Her recent appearance in Program 2 as “Hedda Gabler” (Caniparoli’s Ibsen’s House) radiated complete understanding of the conflicted heroine. With the amazing Pascal Molat in Forsythe’s in the middle, somewhat elevated (a ballet of form, set to the music of Tom Willems) she proves herself a giving and determined partner. She embraces her audience, commands the stage, and delivers the gift of perfection. Lorena Feijóo is the definition of Superstar.

Visit Seán on YouTube:
Lorena Feijóo – A Look at “Giselle” with Seán Martinfield
SAMSON & DELILAH – Meet Seán Martinfield
CA ACADEMY OF SCIENCES – A Preview Look with Seán Martinfield

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See Related: FINE ARTS CRITIC SEAN MARTINFIELD

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Seán Martinfield is a native San Franciscan. He is a Theatre Arts Graduate from San Francisco State University, a professional singer, and well-known private vocal coach to Bay Area actors and singers of all ages and persuasions. His clients have appeared in Broadway National Tours including Wicked, Aïda, Miss Saigon, Rent, Bye Bye Birdie, in theatres and cabarets throughout the Bay Area, and are regularly featured in major City events including Diva Fest, Gay Pride, and Halloween In The Castro. As an Internet consultant in vocal development and audition preparation he has published thousands of responses to those seeking his advice concerning singing techniques, professional and academic auditions, and careers in the Performing Arts. Mr. Martinfield’s Broadway clients have all profited from his vocal methodology, “The Belter’s Method”, which is being prepared for publication. If you want answers about your vocal technique, post him a question on AllExperts.com. If you would like to build up your vocal performance chops and participate in the Bay Area’s rich theatrical scene, e-mail him at: sean.martinfield@comcast.net.

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