Since its premiere over a century ago in Russia, Swan Lake has become one of the most popular classical ballets of all time. This heart-wrenching story of true love has enchanted audiences young and old and remains timeless because of the range of human emotions expressed through dance and Tchaikovsky’s luminous score. The poetic work resonates with melancholy and hope and draws the audience into the story of Odette, a princess-turned-swan and the heroic Prince Siegfried, until the end of this tragic tale, where love triumphs, and the lovers are united for eternity. With Royal Winnipeg Ballet’s quintessential production featuring breathtaking choreography and visually magnificent sets evoking a Renaissance court, the fabled lake of the swans rises into view, inspiring awe for generations to come.
Featured Creative Team
Marius Petipa and Lev Ivanov
Pyotr Illyich Tchaikovsky
Costume & Scenic Design
On the terrace of a magnificent castle, festivities are under way. Villagers and courtiers are celebrating Prince Siegfried’s coming of age, his 21st birthday. The guests are entertained by a mischievous Jester, when servants announce the arrival of the sovereign princess, the prince’s mother. The Queen Mother offers Siegfried an arbalest as a gift and reminds him that the time has come for him to choose a bride at the next evening’s ball.
Reluctant to marry until he is in love, Siegfried is distressed by his mother’s request, but maintains his composure until darkness falls over the terrace and the guests depart. Alone, Siegfried is depressed by obscure premonitions. Seeing a flock of white swans in the sky, Siegfried follows them to the lake.
At the lake, located in the thick of a forest, swans come ashore and are transformed into young women. On seeing them, Siegfried is stunned by their incredible beauty and lowers his arbalest. The Queen of the Swans, Odette, explains that all of them are under the spell of the evil magician, von Rothbart, and only the power of a faithful lover is able to destroy the sorcerer’s spell. Siegfried is enraptured, he has never seen such a beautiful maiden, and falls in love with Odette, vowing eternal love to her. Odette warns the youth that if he breaks his vow, no one will ever be able to help the swan maidens. Dawn approaches. Once again the maidens are transformed into swans and swim into the lake. Odette bids Siegfried farewell.
The following evening in the castle ballroom, a magnificent ball is being given in Siegfried’s honor, with the full court in attendance. Beautiful princesses from various countries appear before the Prince, but no one captures his attention. Siegfried is distracted and thinks only of his love for Odette, who has captured his heart. Only at his mother’s insistence is Siegfried polite to the young ladies attending the ball.
Trumpets suddenly herald the arrival of new, uninvited guests. Impersonating a noble knight, the sorcerer von Rothbart appears with his daughter, Odile. Siegfried is confused – this beauty looks unusually like his beloved Odette. Odile does not give the Prince time to collect himself. She lures him on, charming and captivating him with her allure. Enraptured, the Prince is carried away by her bewitching presence and makes a declaration of love. Henceforth, she is to be his bride.
Delighted at the Prince’s betrayal of his love, von Rothbart triumphs. Siegfried has broken his oath to Odette. Love and faithfulness no longer exist and nothing can withstand von Rothbart’s evil power. With mocking triumph, Odile reveals her true identity.
For a moment, Siegfried has a vision of the swans by the lake and, understanding the terrible deception of which he is victim, the distraught Prince rushes to the lake in search of Odette.
At the lake at nightfall, Odette explains von Rothbart’s perfidy and Siegfried’s unintentional betrayal to her swan maidens. He promises to redeem his misdeed and challenges von Rothbart to single combat.
Von Rothbart’s powers are destroyed and an end has come to evil wizardry. As Odette and Siegfried are united, the rays of the rising sun grant life, love, and happiness.