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Classical Ballet Peter Tchaikovsky "Swan Lake" Classical Ballet in 3 acts
"Aurora Palace" Ballet Hall

Running time: 2 h 30 min

The performance has 2 intermissions

Schedule for Peter Tchaikovsky "Swan Lake" Classical Ballet in 3 acts 2021

Composer: Peter Tchaikovsky
Choreography: Marius Petipa
Choreography: Lev Ivanov
Choreography: Konstantin Sergeyev
Libretto: Vladimir Begichev
Libretto: Vasily Geltzer

Orchestra: St. Petersburg Radio & TV Symphony Orchestra

Classical Ballet in 3 acts

World premiere: 27 February 1877, Bolshoi Theatre, Moscow, Russia
Premiere of this production: 8 March 1950, Kirov Theatre, Leningrad, USSR

“Swan Lake”

It is difficult to understand these days how it could have happened that the first show of the “Lake” in 1877, in Moscow’s Bolshoi, was a flop, and that it took many years for the ballet to achieve its worldwide cult status. The composer, Pyotr Ilych Tchaikovsky, never lived to see the ultimate success of his creation.

The story begins in 1875, when Bolshoi commissions a ballet score from the young but already famous composer. It was not yet customary practice –despite Tchaikovsky fame and previous successes, which included four symphonies, the now famous Piano Concerto and “Eugene Onegin” opera, the Imperial Theatres of the time would normally employ the composers on Imperial payroll, such as Cesare Pugni, Ludwig Minkus, and Riccardo Drigo. Keeping that in mind, Tchaikovsky did not embark on the course of a revolution in the Russian ballet, and studied the classic ballet scores assiduously, planning to produce a score that would be in tune with the established tradition but at the same time would sound new and interesting. The task of composition occupied him from May 1875 to April 1876. The story was a knightly fairy tale, and historians still debate the literary origins –some opt for Heine, some for Musaeus, a German fairy-tale writer, some for Russian folklore fairy tales, some even for Pushkin.

The first show took place on February 20, 1877, and was a flop. The critics reviled the chief choreographer, Wentsel Reisinger, and were short on praise for Polina (Pelageya) Karpakova, the first interpreter of the main female part. The failure of the first show was detrimental for the immediate reputation of the ballet itself, and for quite some time nobody dared to stage it again.

The situation changed after Tchaikovsky’s death. In 1893, Mariinka decided to revive the “Swan Lake”. A new version of the libretto and the music was to be produced by Modest Tchaikovsky, the composer’s brother, Ivan Vsevolzhsky, the director of the Imperial Theatres himself, and by Riccardo Drigo. The latter used the original music as a source material for a completely new score. The choreography was supervised by Marius Petipa and his pupil Lev Ivanov. The tradition claims that while Petipa was the father of the unique choreography of the new ballet, its truly Russian singing character is there thanks to Ivanov. The lake and swan scenes, famous for their perfection, are undoubtedly his alone. It was Ivanov who came up with the idea of enchanted ladies with their criss-crossed arms and heads tilted to one side, which every spectator immediately recognized for birds that sit with their wings folded. The very magical world of the swan lake was created by Ivanov. Petipa’s are the scenes of courtly dances and festivities and their intricate lace of waltzes and various dances – Spanish, Hungarian, Polish. Petipa also created an antipode for Ivanov’s White Queen of Swans –its black twin Odile, and its beautiful black pas-de-deux of the second act.

It was this particular stage version that came to be admired as the pinnacle of Russian ballet. This production, as none other, was the perfect setting for many famous dancers to showcase their art. The Swan Lake is a unique and perfect creation, and despite the changing musical and dancing fashions, the performance of Odette and Odile parts is still considered a touchstone for the mettle of any serious dancer. The White Swan is truly a symbol of Russian Ballet, of its beauty and magnificence.


In the park in front of the castle, Prince Siegfried and his friends are celebrating his coming of age. The guests drink his health and make merry. The jester entertains them with his antics.

Someone warns the Prince that his mother, the reigning Princess, is approaching. The merrymaking stops immediately because all the traces of the little feast must be removed. The jester’s clumsiness, however, betrays them: he lets the tell- tale wine goblets fall to the ground.

The Princess is displeased with her son’s behavior, but the maidens, running up to present her with a bouquet of roses, mollify her. After the Princess in gone, the merrymaking starts all over again.

Twilight falls. The guests depart, leaving the Prince alone in the park. High above, Siegfried sees a flight of white swans. The sight stirs the hunter’s ugre in him. In him. Seizing his bow, the Prince makes his way into the heart of the forest.


A lake in the depths of the forest. The white swans are swimming to the shore. They are beautiful young maidens transformed into swans by the evil magician Rothbart; only at night can they assume human form, and there is no power on earth which can break the evil enchantment except the power of devoted love.
his bow. In another instant his arrow would pierce the swan; but the bird suddenly turn into a beautiful maiden. This is Odette, the Queen of the swan-maidens.

Odette`s beauty charms the Prince. He tries to capture the swam-maiden, but she is afraid of the wicked magician, evades Siegfried and is lost in the midst of the maidens circling in a dance. Siegfried vows eternal love and fidelity to her. Odette`s heart responds to Siegfried`s passionate love. She sees in him a champion who will rescue her from the evil sorcerer’s power. Dawn breaks. The maidens will soon be turned into swans again. Odette birds Siegfried a tender farewell. The white swans glide slowly away across the lake.


A ball at the castle of the Princess, Siegfried`s mother Siegfried is to choose his bride among the maidens invited.
He remais indifferent to all of them, for he has given his heart to Odette. Only at his mother’s insistent reguest doese he dance with the maidens invited to the ball.

He must, however, choose one of them, and present the bride he has chosen with a bunch of flowers.
A flourish to trumpets heralds the arrival of new guests; they are the magician Rothbart and his daughter, Odile. The Prince is struck by her resemblance to Odette.

Rothbart wants the Prince to fall in love with Odile and to forget Odette, thus breaking his vow of eternal love and fidelity to her. Then Odette will remain for ever in the sorcerer`s power. It is for this reason that he has given his daughter the features and form of Odette.

Odile entices Siegfried who is fascinated by her charm.He announces to his mother that the beautiful Odile is his choice. The wicked magician is jubilant.

Suddenly Siegfried sees a vision of the swan-maiden outside the castle window. The Prince realizes that he has been deceived into breaking his vow. In despair, he rushes to the lake, to his beloved Odette.


Night. On the shore of the lake stand the swan-maidens dejected and sad; Odette has told them what happened.

Siegfried rushes in, distracted by despair. He begs Odette to forgive him, professing his unchanging love for her.
The enraged sorcerer summons some black swans and commands them to separate Odete and Siegfried.

Siegfried grapples with the magician. He fights for his love and for Odette`s happiness. In the fearless encounter, he breaks Rothbart`s wing.

The enchanter collapses; his power is gone, he dies.
Love has broken the evil spell. The radiant light of the rising sun falls on the Prince, on Odette and on the maidens Siegfried has rescued.

© Text 2010 Art and Culture Magazine "St Peterburg"

Music for the "Swan Lake" ballet: Fragment 1 Fragment 2

Schedule for Peter Tchaikovsky "Swan Lake" Classical Ballet in 3 acts 2021

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