SWAN LAKE

Music by Peter Ilyitch Tchaikovsky
Choreography by Marius Petipa and Lev Ivanov
Choreography for the Peasant Dance, Goblet Dance, Act I; and the Storm Scene, Act IV by David Blair
Staged by Kevin McKenzie
Scenery by Oliver Smith
Costumes by Freddy Wittop
Lighting by Thomas R. Skelton after Jean Rosenthal

World Premiere: (Petipa-Ivanov production) Imperial Ballet, Maryinsky Theatre, St. Petersburg, 1/27/1895
Original Cast: Pierina Legnani (Odette-Odile), Pavel Gerdt (Prince Siegfried), Alexander Oblakov (Benno), Alexei Bulgakov (Von Rothbart)
ABT Premiere:(of full-lentgh production)Civic Opera House, Chicago, Illinois, 2/16/67
Choreography by David Blair, from the original by Marius Petipa and Lev Ivanov
Libretto by Vladimir Begichev and Vasily Geltzer
Scenery by Oliver Smith
Costumes by Freddy Wittop
Lighting by Jean Rosenthal
Cast: Nadia Nerina (Odette-Odile), Royes Fernandez (Prince Siegfried), Lucia Chase (Princess Mother), Paul Sutherland (Benno), Tom Adair (Von Rothbart), Enrique Martinez (Wolfgang, the tutor)

SYNOPSIS
ACT I: A meadow near the castle. Afternoon. Price Siegfried has organized a hunting party to celebrate his twenty-first birthday. The peasants of the district have been given a holiday and have arranged a picnic which the Prince has promised to attend. The picnic is interrupted by the arrival of the Queen Mother, who reminds her son that it is his duty at his coming-of-age ball to chose a bride from one of six eligible princesses. As the day draws to a close, the peasants take their leave. The Prince, sad at the thought of his carefree youth slipping away, is roused out of his mood by Benno, who has sighted a flight of swans. The Prince, deciding the night is still to be enjoyed, orders pursuit, and the hunters leave.
ACT II: Some hours later. By the lake. As Prince Siegfried enters the forest to hunt, he suddenly sees a magnificent swan in flight. He carefully takes aim, but, to his astonishment, the bird transforms into a most beautiful girl, and he withdraws into the trees to observe her. Unable to restrain his curiosity, he steps out, only to startle and frighten her. He assures her he will do no harm and asks her to explain the marvel he has just seen. Impressed by his gentleness, Odette unburdens the story of her plight. She tells him she is a Princess of high birth who fell under the spell of an evil sorcerer, and now her fate is to be a swan; only in hours of darkness may she assume her human guise. Indeed, this very lake is filled with her mother's tears. She tells him she is condemned for eternity, and only if a virgin youth swears eternal fidelity to her and marries her can she find release. Only then can the spell be broken. But, if he should forswear her, then she must remain a swan forever. At that moment, the sorcerer appears. The Prince in his passion reaches for his crossbow, but Odette immediately protects the sorcerer with her body, for she knows that if he is killed before the spell is broken, she too will die. The sorcerer disappears, and Odette slips away into the forest. Siegfried realizes his destiny is changed. Dawn approaches and Odette is compelled by the spell to return to her guise as a swan. Siegfried is left distraught.
ACT III: The next night, The Great Hall. Guests from many royal houses assemble for the birthday ball, including six princesses and their retinues, whom the Queen Mother has chosen as eligible maidens for her son's hand. The Queen Mother commands the entertainment to begin, then invites the princesses to dance. Prince Siegfried dances with each of the beautiful young maidens in turn. The Queen Mother urges Siegfried to make a decision, but, haunted by the memory of Odette, he refuses, to his mother's consternation. A fanfare announces the arrival of the Baron Von Rothbart with his daughter Odile. Siegfried, who is dazzled by Odile's beauty and seduced by her resemblance to Odette, declares his love and fidelity. Rothbart and Odile triumphantly reveal their deception, and Siegfried realizes he is the victim of an evil plot. He rushes into the night.
ACT IV: The lakeside. That night. The swan-maidens are anxious at the disappearance of Odette. She appears and tells of Rothbart's treachery; before dawn, she intends to die, A great storm rages. Siegfried, bursting into the glade, discovers her and begs her forgiveness.
As dawn approaches, Rothbart appears again in his disguise as a sorcerer. Odette tells Siegfried she must kill herself, or she will forever be a swan. Siegfried, knowing that his destiny is forever changed, declares he will die with her, thus breaking the power of Rothbart. The lovers throw themselves into the lake. Rothbart is mortally struck and his power ended.
Apotheosis: The lovers are united in life after death.

© Copyright 2003-2007 Ballet Theatre Foundation, Inc.
All rights reserved.