One of the most famous and often-performed ballet of them all, Swan Lake was composed by Pyotr Tchaikovsky in 1875-76. Written with material from Russian folk tales, it tells the story of Odette, a princess who is tragically turned into a swan by an evil sorcerer, and Prince Siegfried, who falls in love with her and tries to break the spell. The piece premiered at Moscow's Bolshoi Theatre, home of the Bolshoi Ballet, on March 4, 1877, and it has been popular ever since. Though it is presented in many different versions depending on the company, many groups model their productions after the 1895 revised version presented by the Imperial Ballet at St. Petersburgh's Mariinsky Theatre. To this day, Swan Lake is a popular piece in the repertory of many dance companies. Order your Swan Lake tickets to see this legendary ballet live.Plot Synopsis:
Act I: At the royal court, Prince Siegfried is being forced to declare that he has found a wife by the time of his birthday ball so that he can one day rule the kingdom with a queen and produce heirs. Frustrated that he can not wait for love to marry, he flees to the forest in the night. When he sees a flock of swans passing by, he makes off in pursuit of them.
Act II: In a forest clearing near the mountains, the moonlight shines on a lake and the nearby ruins. Siegfried begins to aim his crossbow at the swans, but when one comes near, he sees a beautiful creature resembling a woman. He begins to dance with her and learns that she is Princess Odette, who the evil wizard, Rothbart, has enchanted to turn into a swan during the day and change back into a woman at night. Other captured maidens tend to Odette in the lake, which was formed by her parents' tears from her kidnapping. Siegfried is greatly concerned and falls in love with her, but before he can declare his love, which would break the spell, Rothbart arrives. When Siegfried goes to kill him, Odette stops him, for if he dies before the spell is broken, it can never be reversed.
Act III: Prince Siegfried returns to the castle for his birthday ball. Rothbart arrives in disguise, and he had brought his own daughter, Odile, who he has made to look like Odette in every way except that she wears black instead of white. When Siegfried mistakenly proclaims his love for and intention to marry Odile, he sees the real Odette a moment too late and realizes his mistake.
Act IV: Back at the lake, Odette accepts Siegfried's passionate apology. Rothbart arrives and tries to separate the lovers. In the original 1877 version, Siegfried rips off one of Rothbart's wings, destroying his powers and releasing the maidens, and he marries Odette. In the 1895 version, the lovers realize they can not break the spell because of Siegfried's accidental pledge to Odile, so they leap into the lake and drown. This act destroys Rothbart's powers, killing him as well. **There are several other endings, both romantic and tragic.