Fantastic ballet in three acts (four scenes) with prologue and epilogue
Libretto by Alexey Miroshnichenko based on the scenario by Vladimir Begichev and Vasily Geltser
Choreography by Marius Petipa, Lev Ivanov, Alexander Gorsky, Konstantin Sergeyev, Alexey Miroshnichenko edited by Alexey Miroshnihenko
The ballet was written in 1876. In this version was staged in Perm in 2015
It is generally believed that the libretto of Swan Lake — a story about princess Odette who is turned into a swan by Von Rothbart the evil sorcerer — is based partly on Russian folk tales and partly on a novel by Johann Karl August Musäus, the author of the collection Volksmärchen der Deutschen (German Folk Tales). Either way, the narrative motif of the ballet, which has become the emblem of the Russian academic school of dance, incorporates clear elements of German romanticism: only the love of a prince can dispel evil magic. Alexey Miroshnichenko’s Swan Lake retains all of the key features of Petipa/Ivanov’s choreography, however he reinterprets the story. Prince Siegfried becomes the central character, whose soul is hunted by the dark genius Von Rothbart, in this interpretation taking on extra powers and whose part will be more dance-based. In artistic terms, this performance is markedly lighter and airier than those preceding: the space is decorated with white stone walls, stained glass windows and chandeliers. The “swans’” tutus are made as per old designs from the late 19th century and are trimmed with real feathers.
The Reigning Princess
Rothbart, the Evil Sorcerer
Odette, Queen of the Swans
Odile, Rothbart's companion, looks like Odette
Benno, the Prince's friend
Wolfgang, the Prince's tutor
Master of Ceremonies
Court gentlemen and ladies, guests, pages, heralds
Villagers and servants
Swans and cygnets
Bedchamber in Siegfried’s ancestral castle. The Prince tosses and turns in his sleep as if something is tormenting him. Suddenly a window swings open by a strong gust of wind and breaks. The Prince wakes up frightened. A figure is seen in the window opening — it is the Evil Sorcerer Rothbart, hunting for the Prince's soul. Tormented by a sense of foreboding, Siegfried loses consciousness.
A splendorous castle courtyard. Prince Siegfried is celebrating his coming of age. The courtiers are feasting at the table, and the noble youths are dancing and entertaining the prince. The provocative Jester and faithful friend Benno are both there. Everyone wants the feast to go well. The Jester and Benno rush in in the midst the feast reporting that the Prince's mother is coming. The fun is over and everyone is getting ready to respectfully meet the Reigning Princess. She informs her son that she wants to marry him off, a grand ball at which the Prince would have to choose a bride is planned the next day. When the mother leaves, the saddened Prince tells his friends that his freedom would be over soon.
The retinue resumes having fun. During the farewell dance with the cups Siegfried suddenly notices among the guests the man he saw in the window that night. The Evil Sorcerer appears in different spotsbowing to him respectfully as if pursuing the Prince. The young man is confused.
It is getting dark. The feast has been a success but Siegfried is sad. Benno suggests lifting his moodby going hunting with his friends. Benno hands the crossbow over to the Prince. Siegfried orders the hunt to begin. When everybody leaves, the prince sees a flock of swans flying in the distance and hurries after the flock.
Lowland wilderness surrounded by the forest, the lake is glistening not far away. The moon is shining. Ruins of an ancient chapel appear black by the lake. The Prince's friends appear, ready to begin the hunt. The Prince rushes in, he is anxious: it seemed to him that he had seen in the ruins someone who had been making him restless for a long time. Trying to hide his anxiety from his friends, the Prince sends them off on the hunt.
Theflock is floating on the lake, followed by a swan wearing a crown. Siegfried raises his crossbow to shoot when suddenly a girl appears from the ruins of the chapel. It is Odette, the Queen of the Swans. The Prince is amazed by this transformation.
Odette begs him not to shoot and tells the sad story of her life. She and her friends have been turned into swans by the Evil Sorcerer. The swans can take human form only by night close to these ruins, but the powerful Rothbart, is always watching them closely. Only the one who would fall in love with Odette unconditionally and selflessly, would break the spell. The Prince swears that from now on he will never kill a single swan. Mesmerized by Odette's beauty, he makes an oath of eternal love. Siegfried and Odette are surrounded by swans rejoicing at their happiness together with them.
Hiding in the ruins, Rothbart overhears the lovers' conversation.
In the ceremonial hall of the Reigning Princess's castle everything is ready for the reception of the guests. The Master of Ceremonies announces their arrival. Potential brides enter the ballroom, but Siegfried is indifferent to what is happening — all his thoughts are directed to Odette.
The sound of the trumpet is heard and a new guest arrives. It is Count Rothbart, accompanied by his daughter Odile along with a large retinue. Siegfried is struck by the similarity of Odile to his beloved Odette. He thinks that she is the swan-girl, who suddenly appears at the ball, and welcomes her exuberantly.
While the Prince is dancing with Odile, Odette appears in the window in the form of a swan, trying to warn the Prince of the Sorcerer’sdeception, but Siegfried can neither hear nor see anyone except Odile.
Seeing her son's interest in Rothbart's daughter, the Reigning Princess announces that Odile should become Siegfried’s bride. Rothbart asks the Prince to solemnly swear of his love for Odile, and he does that eagerly. Rothbart repeats his question three times, and each time the Prince confirms eagerly.
Suddenly the room sinks into darkness and Siegfried sees Odette in the window. Horrified he realizes that he had been deceived, but the understanding of guilt comes too late. The oath is broken — the swan-girl will forever remain in the grip of the dark forces.
Rothbart and Odile disappear. The Prince rushes off to the swan lake in despair.
It’s the night at the bank of the swan lake. Odette's friends are sad, they are waiting for her return. Odette rushes in in tears of despair: her Prince has broken his oath and has failed the test. Siegfried appears. He is looking for Odette in grief and dismay to beg her forgiveness. Her friends try to persuade her to fly away and leave this place forever, but Odette decides to meet Siegfried for the last time and asks them to leave them alone.
Odette has forgiven the Prince, but the joy of their meeting does not last long — the appearance of Rothbart and his retinue of black swans reminds of the irreparability of what has happened. Odette says goodbye to Siegfried — the oath has been broken and she is to die before the morning comes. But the Prince prefers death to separation from his beloved: in a noble rage he attacks the Sorcerer. The forces are too uneven, the Prince dies.
Dawn is breaking. The Prince's friends come to the lake — they have been searching for him for the whole night. Siegfried is dead. Benno is mourning him bitterly, his friends are grieving. They do not see that in the distance, rising above the ancient ruined chapel, the souls of Odette and Siegfried, uncontrolled by evil forces, are flying to the Temple of eternal happiness.