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The Timeless Swan Lake Ballet

If there is one theatrical production which is known throughout the world, the Swan Lake Ballet must be it. The score for this stunning musical performance was composed by the Russian composer Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky and it is a memorable ballet that has survived to our day because of its timeless grace and beauty.

The original Swan Lake ballet was choreographed by Julius Reisinger to the musical score which was composed by Tchaikovsky. The ballet may be presented in four Acts of four scenes each or of three acts with four scenes each. Though history is sketchy, it would seem that the ballet was originally commissioned in 1875 by Vladimir Petrovich Begichev for only 800 rubles. It was the first time that the score of a symphonic composer was used for a ballet and the debut met with much criticism and was not well received. It would seem that the play was saved shortly after prima ballerina Anna Sobeshchanskaya debuted as Odette in the ballet. Though she took the lead role, she was completely dissatisfied with the ballet from the start and she soon had a new Grand Pas choreographed and scored for the ballet. Tchaikovsky was angered by this but agreed to compose a Pas to fit with the new choreography and so the legend of the ballet, as we know it today, was born.

The ballet follows the exploits of a young Prince Siegfried and his delightful love the swan-maiden Odette. It starts at the royal court where Prince Siegfried escapes into the night in an effort to escape declaring a wife who he does not love at his birthday celebration. While in the forest, he sees a flock of swans flying overhead he heads for the lake where he knows they will land with the intention of shooting one with his crossbow. However, just as he is about to shoot he sees that instead of a swan he is staring at a beautiful woman dressed in white. He dances with her and shortly afterwards learns that she is princess Odette who has been cursed by an evil sorcerer and so must be a swan by day and a woman by night. The lake was formed by the tears of her parents upon her capture by the evil magician and the other swans are fellow-maidens who attend to her.

The prince falls in love and is about to break the spell by declaring his undying love when the magician appears. Siegried wants to kill the magician but Odette stops him, knowing that the spell cannot be broken if he dies first. So instead the Prince returns to the castle to attend his birthday ball. Here the magician arrives in disguise with his daughter, Odile, at his side – making her appear to resemble Odette in every way except that she wears black instead of white. The Prince mistakes her for Odette, dances with her and then proclaims his decision to marry her. Seconds later he realizes his mistake but it is too late. The end in the final act of the ballet differs from production to production. It may be romantic or tragic, and may feature the lover’s untimely death or their conquering of the magician. If you are ever given the opportunity to watch this production in Moscow or any other country in the world you will easily find yourself transported into this fantastical world of love and treachery. So take the time to enjoy the Swan Lake Ballet from Russia and enjoy this timeless ballet.


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