Setting: Prince Siegfried’s castle, and a lake nearby in the forest. - Back to top -
ACT I. Prince Siegfried has come of age and entered upon a new world of affairs of war and the burdens of manhood. It is the day for leaving behind the whims and caprice of youth. A happy day for the Prince, though touched by anxiety. The kindly jester and tutor who have been the Prince's loving companions since his childhood are the first to congratulate him. He greets his companions and joyfully accepts the congratulations of all the residents of the Castle.
The Prince's subjects come from far and wide to take part in the festivities. They confer upon him the sword and scepter of authority and swear allegiance to their new ruler. His mother, the Queen Mother of the Realm, presents him with an arbalest as a gift and reminds him that the time has come to choose a bride and that he must make the fateful decision at tomorrow’s ball. He is eager to contemplate this life change in silence. The festivities continue, but the Prince is overcome by a desire to be alone, far from his guests. As he begins to search the contents of his heart he notices a flight of white swans heading toward the nearby lake. He is inspired and follows them there, disappearing into the night.
ACT II. The voyage to the lake takes the Prince into the depths of the forest. He approaches the Swans quietly and as he nears he sees something quite out of the ordinary. The Swans have stepped ashore and assumed human form! Siegfried lowers the crossbow, astonished with their striking beauty. He gathers his courage and reveals himself. Odette, the swan’s Queen tells him of their terrible curse. They are all at the mercy of the wicked sorcerer Rotbart and only by finding true love can the evil spell be lifted. Siegfried, overcome with love at first sight, swears to her an everlasting love. As the sun beings to dawn, Odette warns him that if he breaks his oath, nothing will be able to help them. The Prince is completely overcome by the incomparable and exquisite delicacy of Odette, and swears that he will return and free her from the evil spell. As the sunlight touches them, the women transform back into Swans, cloaked in silence.
ACT III. The castle resounds to the clamor of festivities. Renowned Princesses from Hungary, Russia, Spain, Italy and Poland are presented to the Prince. He must choose one of them as his bride, in order to strengthen his authority and consolidate his power. However, in none of these royal heiresses does he find a maiden comparable to Odette, to whom he has given his heart. He rejects them all.
With an overwhelming blare of trumpets, a couple of new guests are announced. The evil sorcerer, Rotbart, enters in the guise of a noble knight, and following close behind is his daughter, Odylle, who looks remarkably like Odette. The similarity is so close, in fact, that Siegfried believes, if only for a split second, that it is Odette standing there before him. Odylle seizes the brief moment of illusion as an opportunity and will not allow him to find his senses. She becomes a bewitching temptress, luring him, hypnotizing him, and tricking him into confessing his undying love to her! In this hypnotic stupor, he proclaims that Odylle is to be his bride. Rotbard has triumphed! Siegfried has broken his oath to Odette, betraying her by professing love to another, thereby dooming Odette and the others to an eternity under Rotbart’s evil power. Suddenly a vision of the Swan Lake appears before Siegfried’s eyes, snapping him back into reality. He realizes the terrible mistake he has made. In despair he leaves the palace and hurries to Odette at the Lake.
ACT IV. Night falls again on the Lake. The swan maidens are anxious, for if the Prince does not fulfill his vow to set them free, they will be doomed to everlasting captivity. The sorcerer raises a raging storm to conceal the Swan Lake behind a screen of dark clouds, But the Prince rushes headlong through the storm to Odette. The sorcerer attempts to conceal her from him, but no power can stop the young man whose heart is so full of love. The Prince overcomes all obstacles, and the spell cast by the evil sorcerer is dashed forever on the rock of true love.
To read more about the story and history of Swan Lake,click here.
Ekaterina Egorova graduated from the Moscow State Academy of Choreography in 2006, and was immediately hired as a member of the Russian National Ballet Theatre by Sergey Radchenko. With her combination of grace, technical prowess, and excellent physique she quickly became the company’s prima ballerina, performing the most demanding roles of the classical ballet repertoire. She is known for the title roles of Sleeping Beauty, Swan Lake, and Giselle, as well as Maria in The Nutcracker and Juliet in Romeo and Juliet.
Aydos Zakan Prince Siegfried
Since 2009, Aydos Zakan has held the position of Principal Soloist at both St. Petersburg’s Mikhailovsky Theatre and Moscow’s Stanislavski and Nemirovich-Danchenko Theatre. His best-known roles include Albert in Giselle, Prince Siegfried in Swan Lake, Basil in Don Quixote, and Ali (Rhab) in Le Corsaire. Mr. Zakan graduated with honors from the Vaganova Ballet Academy and has won awards from over a dozen international competitions, including the gold medal at the 2008 Tanc-Olim Competition in Berlin, Germany, and first prize at the 2010 “Arabesque” International Competition in Perm, Russia.
The Russian National Ballet Theatre was founded in Moscow during the Perestroika period of the late 1980s. Originally called the Soviet National Ballet, the company was founded by and comprised of graduates from the great Russian choreographic schools in Moscow, St. Petersburg and Perm. The principal dancers of the company came from the upper ranks of the great ballet companies and academies of Russia, and the companies of Riga, Kiev, and even Warsaw. Today, the Russian National Ballet Theatre is its own institution, with over 50 dancers of singular instruction and vast experience, many of whom have been with the company since its inception.
In 1994, legendary Bolshoi prima ballerina Elena Radchenko was appointed by Presidential decree to assume the first permanent artistic directorship of the company. She has focused the Company on upholding the grand national tradition of Russian ballet and developing new talents throughout Russia. The company’s repertoire includes virtually all of the works of Marius Petipa: Don Quixote, La Bayadere, Sleeping Beauty, Swan Lake, Raymonda, Paquita, Coppelia and La Sylphide, as well as many other productions including The Nutcracker, Sylvia, and La Fille Mal Gardée.
If Puccini was the Master of Verismo and Verdi the King of Italian opera, then Pytor Ilyich Tchaikovsky was the Champion of Paradox. A musical genius and a national hero, Tchaikovsky struggled with his many personal demons, including his homosexuality, his intense emotionality, and his headstrong impetuousness. On his other side, Tchaikovsky was well known for his candor and modesty, his acceptance of criticism and his workmanship. Unfortunately, he was never able to reconcile these two sides and this ultimately led to his very unhappy and tortured life.
Tchaikovsky was born on May 7, 1840 at Votkinsk, in the government of Vyatka, Russia. He was close to his family - his father (a mine inspector), his mother, four brothers, and a sister. At the age of five, he began to study piano, soon revealing his amazing gifts. It wasn't until he was 21, however, that he began to study music seriously.
In 1863, Tchaikovsky entered the St. Petersburg Conservatory and undertook some private training. The young Tchaikovsky was a master at improvisation, but so unschooled he was unaware of such simple musical tenets as the possibility of modulating to different keys. Tchaikovsky frequently attended the opera and fell in love with the music of Mozart. His diligence became apparent when his composition teacher, Anton Rubinstein, assigned variations as homework. Tchaikovsky sat up all night and prepared 200.
In 1866, Tchaikovsky moved permanently to Moscow where he accepted a teaching position in a new conservatory established by Anton Rubinstein's brother, Nicholas. It was there that his First Symphony was created, receiving a warm reception by Moscow audiences in 1868. It was also there that Tchaikovsky had his first nervous breakdown, due to the stress of composing the First Symphony. Interestingly, Tchaikovsky had asked his former teacher, Anton Rubinstein, to premiere the work in St. Petersburg, a request that was ultimately denied.
Other works followed with less success, including Tchaikovsky's first opera, The Voyevoda, in 1869, later re-worked into The Oprichnik in 1874. By then Tchaikovsky's Second Symphony had begun winning acclaim, as had his First Piano Concerto. Following these compositions were his Third Symphony and Swan Lake, the tone poem Francesca da Rimini in 1875, and the Rococo Variations for cello and orchestra in 1876. Near the end of 1876 Tchaikovsky was contacted by a wealthy admirer, Nadejda Fillaretovna von Meck, who gave him several commissions and became his sponsor for the next 12 years.
Throughout this period, Tchaikovsky continued to struggle with his homosexuality. Although Tchaikovsky had a brief affair with opera singer Desiree Artot, he was clearly inclined to deny his own nature. In a letter to his brother, Tchaikovsky wrote, "I am aware that my inclinations are the greatest and most unconquerable obstacle to happiness; I must fight my nature with all of my strength. I shall do everything possible to marry this year." Indeed, he did marry a young woman, Antonina Ivanovana Milyukoff, on July 6, 1877. However, within a month, he discovered they were incompatible and spent the next few months running away from his new wife. He also made a failed attempt at suicide by walking into the Moska River in the hopes of contracting pneumonia. It was at this point, in the late 1870s, that he wrote some of his greatest works, the opera Eugene Onegin, the Violin Concerto, and the Fourth Symphony.
Based on Alexander Pushkin's novel in verse, Eugene Onegin (1878) tells the story of a girl fascinated by a man who ultimately rejects her and his later remorse. That same year, Tchaikovsky also wrote the Violin Concerto. He wrote Manfred in 1885; the Fifth Symphony in 1888; another successful opera, Pique Dame (The Queen of Spades) in 1890; and the Casse-Noisette (Nutcracker) ballet in 1891. These successes made Tchaikovsky famous throughout the world. He temporarily conquered his stage fright and, in 1888, made an international conducting tour. In 1891, Tchaikovsky came to New York and conducted his own works at the ceremonies of the opening of Carnegie Hall.
By 1890, the inevitable break with Madame von Meck had occurred and, while Petr gained his financial independence, he felt his loss on a more personal than professional level. Madame von Meck, in addition to an income of 6,000 roubles, had provided Tchaikovsky an outlet to air his opinions, beliefs, hopes, and dreams. There has been no particular reason recorded as to why the break between them occurred.
In 1893, Tchaikovsky completed the Pathetique Symphony (No. 6) and conducted it at St. Petersburg to a rather apathetic response. Unfortunately, Petr would not live to see its ultimate success. By most accounts, Tchaikovsky drank an unsterilized glass of water, contracted cholera, and died on November 6, 1893. However Tchaikovsky died, 8,000 mourners attended his funeral as he was buried at St. Petersburg's Alexander Nevsky Monastery.