Sunday, May 9, 2010

Top Ten Ballets - Swan Lake

American Ballet Theater - Act II Scene I - when the hunter, Siegfried, finds out that the beautiful swan is actually the princess, Odette.

Based upon Russian folk tales and an ancient German legend, Swan Lake tells the story of Odette, a princess turned into a swan by an evil sorcerer's curse.

[Excerpt taken from] The ballet begins while Prince Siegfried is hunting, and sees an amazing swan. As he takes aim to shoot, the swan turns into a beautiful woman. The woman, Odette, tells the prince that she is a princess who has come under the spell of an evil sorcerer. During the day she must be a swan and swim in a lake of tears. At night she is allowed to be a human again. The spell can only be broken if a a virgin prince swears eternal infidelity to her. She tells Prince Siegfried, who happens to be a virgin prince, that if he refuses her she must remain a swan forever.

Prince Siegfried falls madly in love with Odette. However, through a spell by the evil sorcerer, he accidentally proposes to another woman at a party, believing that the woman is really Odette. Princess Odette feels doomed. She threatens to kill herself and throws herself into the lake. The Prince feels terribly sorry and throws himself into the lake with her. In an incredibly touching moment, the two are transformed into lovers in the afterlife.

Swan Lake Trivia
  • Music composed by Tchaikovsky (his first ballet score), and originally choreographed by Julius Reisinger.2
  • It premiered in 1877 at the Bolshoi Theatre in Moscow as The Lake of the Swans 
  • Many versions were created afterward, since it was not well-received.1 Most ballet companies today base their choreography and music upon the 1895 revival (almost 20 years after the original), choreographed by Marius Petipa and Lev Ivanov for the Mariinsky Theater (now the Kirov Ballet). For this revival, Tchaikovsky's score was revised by the St. Petersburg Imperial Theatre's chief conductor and composer Riccardo Drigo.2


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