Visits to the Welsh capital by Russian ballet companies continue to defrost cold winter nights and bolster the seasonal festivities.
This opening performance of the Christmas and New Year residency by the Siberian State Ballet augurs well for its stay, during which Coppélia, Swan Lake and The Nutcracker are being performed.
The Krasnoyarsk State Opera and Ballet Theatre, to give it its full name, is among Siberia's finest, though as ballet companies go its classic repertoire belies its relatively young age. It was founded in 1978.
It is also a young troupe, or at least the performers in this youthful version of Délibes’ Coppélia are. Even Alexander Kuimov as the spooky toymaker Dr Coppelius is far from seriously sinister and seemed to have a few decades left in which to dabble in sorcery with his life-size puppets.
The costumes of Dmitry Tcherbadzhi, particularly the richly decorated tutus in the final act, add a glowing element to the spectacular set-pieces and variations, the multiple pirouettes and grand allegro being thrilling if not especially heart-stopping.
Kirill Litvinenko as the male lead Franz might be thought of as routinely athletic if the scale of his exertions were not exactly what the production ordered in terms of the age, height and build of the principals, of whom Maria Kuimova as Swanilda is outstanding. Her final pas de deux, an elegant, deceptively simple series of exchanges with Litvinenko as the two move eventually downstage, is the perfect union of music and movement.
The corps de ballet and the company orchestra under Alexander Yudasin complete a team as steady as it is exuberant, and Yana Tugaeva’s Coppélia doll, a cameo, is the sweetest of final scene-stealers.
For details of the other performances, contact the hall’s box office on 02920 878444 (www.stdavidshallcardiff.co.uk)