Music by P. Tchaikovsky.
Choreography by M. Petipa and L. Ivanov.
Libretto by V. Begichev.
Premiered on February 20, 1877 in Moscow at Bolshoi Theatre.
Ballet in 2 acts and 4 scenes.
Odette, queen of swans
Queen, his mother
von Rothbart, the evil genius
Odile, his daughter
The plot is based on folklore motifs, partially used before in various literary works and opera and ballet librettos.
The magic of the evil genius works only in the day, but with the coming of the moon the white swan turns into a beautiful Odette. On the lake she is surrounded by bewitched swan-girls who called Odette the queen of swans. According to legend, a magic “swan lake” was formed from the mother's tears for her kidnapped daughter. Only the true love of a young man can destroy the evil spell, but if the vow of eternal love is broken, she will forever remain a swan.
In four scenes of ballet real and fantastic pictures alternate.
Celebrating his majority in the palace park, Prince Siegfried see a flock of swans flying over the park. In the forest, on the shore of the lake among the swan-girls, the prince finds Odette. He was conquered by her beauty and shocked by her story, Siegfried swears to Odette eternal love. At a ball in the castle, Siegfried must choose a bride. The first beauties dance before him. There is an array of national dances: Spanish, Neapolitan, Hungarian, Polish (mazurka). But the prince is indifferent until Odile appears. Siegfried sees Odette in Odile, he prefers her. Realizing that he made a fatal mistake, Siegfried runs to the lake and begs Odette for forgiveness, but does not receive it. Siegfried defies Rothbart, the master of the lake, personifying in the ballet the image of fate. Fearless in the encounter, he breaks von Rothbart’s wing. The sorcerer collapses, his power gone, and he dies. Love has broken the evil spell. The sun rises and shines on the Prince and Odette.