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Classical Ballet Swan Lake. Moscow City Ballet
Moscow City Ballet

Running time: 2 hours 19 minutes

Schedule for Swan Lake. Moscow City Ballet 2021-2022

Composer: Peter Tchaikovsky
Choreography: Marius Petipa
Artistic Director: Victor Smirnov-Golovanov
Choreography: Victor Smirnov-Golovanov
Orchestra: The Rakhmaninov Symphony Orchestra

Libretto: Vladimir Begichev and Vasily Geltzer
Version and direction: Natalia Ryzhenko, Victor Smirnov-Golovanov
Choreography: Lev Ivanov, Marius Petipa, Agrippina Vaganova, Yuri Grigorovich, Natalia Ryzhenko, Victor Smirnov-Golovanov
Designer: Victor Smirnov-Golovanov (REALISATION: Evgeniy Gurenko)

Performance by Moscow City Ballet

Swan Lake is probably the world’s best-known ballet, set to Tchaikovsky’s sublime score.

Victor Smirnov-Golovanov’s flawless production is a stunning demonstration of the precision, artistry and sheer grace for which Moscow City Ballet is renowned throughout the world.

You will be moved by this fable which follows the fate of Prince Siegfried and he falls in love with the beautiful Swan Queen, Odette.

The ballet’s soaring climax sees the power of true love conquer the forces of evil.

"Traditional Russian dancing at its best"
Bath Chronicle, 12 November 2002

"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 c
omposer, 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. 



The Palace Courtyard, late afternoon.
It`s Prince Siegfried`s 21st Birthday. Young people have gathered to celebrate the occasion, including the prince`s friend Benno and Wolfgang, his old tutor. The festivities are spirited and there is much dancing and games. In the midst of the activity the Prince`s aunt arrives to remind her nephew that his coming of age is a serious affair - it is a time for his to marry. A ball has been arranged for the following evening and there, from a group of prospective flancees, he is to choose a bride. Siegfried is disconsolate at the thought of his carefree youth slipping away. He has no desire to marry. The day draws to a close, and in an attempt to cheer his friend, Benno points to a flock of wild swans in flight and suggests a hunting expedition. Deciding that the right is still to be enjoyed, Siegfried orders pursuit.


By the Lake - evening.
The hunting party follows the swans through the woods, reaching a clearing where they settled on a nearby lake, Siegfried`s attention is suddenly attracted by a beautiful white swan, which is transformed into a lovely young maiden. She is Odette, Queen of the Swans. The evil sorcerer Von Rothbart holds her under his spell - by day she and her friends are swans, and swans they must remain, except between midnight and dawn, when they may resume their human form. Only the pure love of a young man can remove the curse. Astonished by her beauty and full of love for Odette, Siegfried`s love will destroy evil powers. Von Rothbart suddenly appears in the form of an owl, beckoning menacingly to Odette. As dawn breaks, the lovers bid farewell. Odette returns to the lake, resuming her guise as a swan, and Von Rothbart plots to make the prince break his vow.


The Castle Ballroom - the following evening.
The entire court is assembled for Siegfried`s betrothal ball, the invited princesses and their families eagerly awaiting the decision of the Prince. The Prince`s aunt indicates he is to choose a bride from the maidens present, but none pleases him. The young Prince`s mind is still filled with images of the beautiful Odette. Mindful of his vow of Fidelity, he pays little attention to the eligible young women with whom he is presented. Suddenly, a fanfare announces the arrival of two new guests. It is Von Rothbart, disguised as a nobleman, and his daughter Odile. The Prince stands transfixed by her likeness to Odette and, overwhelmed by the unexpected appearance of his true love, he asks her to dance. Odile so bewitches the Prince that he asks for her hand in marriage. Convinced that he is with his beloved Odette, he declares his fidelity in front of all present. Triumphantly, Von Rothbart and Odile reveal themselves. The Prince realizes too late that he is a victim of their cruel treachery. Odette has been betrayed, and now can never be released from her enchantment. In despair, the Prince runs to the lake to search for her.


The Lake - later that evening.
The swan maidens are anxiously awaiting Odette`s return when she runs in and tells them in anguish of Siegfried`s betrayal. The evil magician has triumphed, and there is no salvation for the swan maidens now. A storm springs up on the lake. The Prince comes running to the lakeside and begs Odette to forgive him, but Odette is destined to die. The Prince fights with Von Rothbart, in his last effort the swan maidens are freed from his evil spell, and the souls of Siegfried and Odette are united in eternal happiness.

Music For Ballets Fragment 1 Fragment 2
© Text 2010 Art and Culture Magazine "St Peterburg"

Schedule for Swan Lake. Moscow City Ballet 2021-2022

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