Kungliga Operan – Stockholm / Swan Lake – Review

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Following on from my previous post about the Theatrical Sites in StockholmI’ve saved my highlight for its own post. It’s also a double whammy of a review too – both the Opera House and the Ballet we saw there.

So first of all the Kungliga Operan, in one word, WOW. What a stunning opera house. Lavish, luxuriant and stylish with friendly staff made for it being a perfect night out.

The Outside of the Kungliga Operan

The outside of the Kungliga Operan

We were fortunate to sit in the area which is actually reserved for the King’s household (unbeknownst to me when I purchased the tickets) and tickets for this are released only the last few days prior to the show if not needed. I could get used to theatre seats that are like armchairs, and a great view! Thanks to a very friendly local couple we sat next to, they gave us a peek of the Kings Gallery and private staircase which are located nearby during the interval.

Inside it is rather spectacular too - The King's Gallery,  © Alexander Kenney / Operan Kungliga

Inside it is rather spectacular too – The King’s Gallery, © Alexander Kenney / Operan Kungliga

Most comfortable theatre seat award goes to Kungliga Operan!

Most comfortable theatre seat award goes to Kungliga Operan!

Main staircase of the Opera House

Main staircase of the Opera House

The ceiling above the main stairs

The ceiling above the main stairs

During the second interval our kind locals sitting next to us asked if we’d been to the Golden Hall? We advised we hadn’t, “oh you MUST come and see it!” so off we went. Alas as I’d not expected to need to take photos I didn’t have my camera on me and I can’t find any pics online. Suffice to say it is a hall that is lit by magnificent chandeliers and the entire room is covered in gold. Rumour has it the room is entirely gold leaf, whether it is or not, I so glad they made sure we saw it.

I was also pleasantly surprised at the reasonable cost of attending the Kungliga Operan, comparative seating in the Covent Garden Royal Opera House, would easily have cost four times as much and people told me Stockholm was an expensive city! Certainly not for ballet or opera. I may start getting a cheap flight and seeing more there, as that’ll still be cheaper the way West End is going.

So to the ballet:

I’ve seen Swan Lake a few times but not recently. Previous occasions have all been Russian companies and so it was gripping to see how another school of ballet would deal with this iconic piece. I have to say I liked the understated subtlety and focus on the story telling they gave it. The dancers had their chance to wow us and show us what they could do, but the narrative of the piece was the centre point. So much so, that a full act I don’t ever recall seeing in my previous versions! I’m sure it must have been in them as I remember the score from them, but clearly they failed to connect the story to me. Whereas this time each act developed the story and built on the last act. I especially liked the quick change of Odette from Princess to swan, it was so magical.

Obviously pride in ones own Royal Ballet prevents me from saying the  Swedish Royal Ballet were better. However they were not quite as slick as ours and this could have been due to one of the dancers injuring themselves and having to bow out of the final act. In no way though is this a slight on the company. They gave charming performances and we had a wonderful time viewing their Swan Lake.

This was seen on my last night in Stockholm, a fine ending to a fantastic week there. I wish we’d had time for an official tour of the Kungliga Operan and should we return, we’ll make a point of doing that. If you are in Stockholm make sure you visit the Kungliga Operan!

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