Music by Peter Ilyitch Tchaikovsky
Choreography by Kevin McKenzie
after Marius Petipa and
Scenery and Costumes by Zack
Lighting by Duane Schuler
ABT Premiere:(of full-lentgh production)Civic Opera House, Chicago,
Choreography by David Blair, from the original by Marius
Petipa and Lev Ivanov
Libretto by Vladimir Begichev and Vasily Geltzer
Scenery by Oliver Smith
Costumes by Freddy Wittop
Lighting by Jean Rosenthal
Cast: Nadia Nerina (Odette-Odile), Royes Fernandez (Prince Siegfried),
Lucia Chase (Princess Mother), Paul Sutherland (Benno), Tom Adair (von
Rothbart), Enrique Martinez (Wolfgang, the tutor)
World Premiere: (Petipa-Ivanov production) Imperial Ballet, Maryinsky
Theatre, St. Petersburg, 1/27/1895
Original Cast: Pierina Legnani (Odette-Odile), Pavel Gerdt (Prince Siegfried),
Alexander Oblakov (Benno), Alexei Bulgakov (von Rothbart)
Acts 1/2 - 70:00
Acts 3/4 - 45:00
Prologue: Long before
our story begins, Odette, a beautiful princess, falls under the spell
of von Rothbart, a wicked sorcerer.
Act I - The Princes Birthday Party: It is Prince Siegfrieds
twenty-first birthday and he is celebrating with friends. The Queen
Mother arrives to give him his present, a crossbow, and reminds him
that, as he is to become King, he must choose a bride at the ball the
next evening. She leaves, bidding him to enjoy himself, but reminding
him again to think about his royal obligation to be wed. Siegfried,
realizing that his carefree days are at an end, leaves the party at
the height of the festivities to seek the solace of the woods. Benno,
his friend, finds him and suggests they go hunting. Siegfried declines,
preferring to be alone.
Act II - Some hours later. By the Lake: Prince Siegfried enters
a moonlit clearing in the forest and sees a magnificent swan in flight.
He carefully takes aim, but, to his astonishment, the bird transforms
into a breathtakingly beautiful girl, and he withdraws into the trees
to observe her. Unable to resist his curiosity, he steps out, only to
startle and frighten her. He assures her he will do her no harm and
asks her to explain the marvel he has just seen. Impressed by his gentleness,
Odette unburdens the story of her plight. She tells him she is a Princess
of high birth who fell under the spell of an evil sorcerer, and now
her fate is to be a swan; only in the hours of darkness may she assume
her human guise. Indeed, this very lake is filled with her mothers
tears. She tells him she is condemned for eternity, and only if a virgin
youth swears eternal fidelity to her and marries her can she find release.
Only then can the spell be broken. But if he should forswear her, then
she must remain a swan forever. At that moment the sorcerer appears.
The Prince, in his passion, reaches for his crossbow, but Odette immediately
protects the sorcerer with her body, for she knows that if he is killed
before the spell is broken, she too will die. The sorcerer disappears,
and Odette slips away into the forest. Siegfried realizes his fate is
now entwined with hers. Dawn approaches and Odette is compelled by the
spell to return to her guise as a swan. Siegfried is left awestruck.
Act III - The Great Hall: Heralds and trumpets announce the start
of the ball. Eligible young princesses from all over the world arrive
to be introduced to Prince Siegfried so that he may choose a bride.
They present their national dances for the entertainment of the Prince
and the Queen Mother. The prospective brides dance for them, and the
Queen Mother reminds Siegfried that he must choose one for his wife.
As Siegfried struggles with his responsibility to marry, his mind remains
with Odette and he cannot choose. Trumpets announce an un-invited guest.
It is von Rothbart with his daughter Odile. Siegfried is seduced by
her, as von Rothbart holds the court in thrall. Siegfried announces
his intention to marry Odile. Von Rothbart asks Siegfried to swear fidelity.
He realizes too late that he has been the victim of a terrible plot.
The scene darkens; Odette is seen at the castle door, weeping. Grief-stricken,
Siegfried rushes to the lakeside.
Act IV - The lakeside: A great storm rages. Siegfried, bursting
into the glade, discovers Odette and begs her forgiveness. Odette tells
Siegfried she must kill herself, or she will forever be a swan. Siegfried,
knowing that his destiny is forever changed, declares he will die with
her, thus breaking von Rothbarts power over her.
As dawn approaches, von Rothbart appears. The lovers answer his threat
by throwing themselves into the lake. Von Rothbart is vanquished and
his power ended.
APOTHEOSIS: The lovers are united in life after death.
The first production of Swan Lake, with choreography by Julius (Wentzel)
Reisinger, received its World Premiere by the Russian Imperial Ballet
at the Bolshoi Theatre, Moscow on March 4, 1877, danced by Pelagia (Paulina)
Karpakova (Odette-Odile) and Stanislav Gillert (Prince Siegfried).
Swan Lake as we know it, with the Petipa/Ivanov choreography, was given
its first full-length production at the Maryinsky Theatre, St. Petersburg,
on January 27, 1895, with Pierina Legnani as Odette-Odile and Pavel
Gerdt as Prince Siegfried.
American Ballet Theatre (then Ballet Theatre) first performed Act II
of Swan Lake, with choreography by Anton Dolin after Lev Ivanov and
Marius Petipa, at the Center Theatre, in New York City on January 16,
1940, with Patricia Bowman as Odette and Anton Dolin as Prince Siegfried.
Mr. Dolin also choreographed the grand pas de deux from Act III as the
Black Swan Pas de Deux, which was given at the Metropolitan
Opera House on October 23, 1944 with Tamara Toumanova as Odile and Anton
Act II of David Blairs staging for ABT was first given at the
New York State Theater on January 18, 1966 with Lupe Serrano and Royes
Fernandez. The first performance of the complete ballet staged by David
Blair was given by ABT at the Civic Opera House, Chicago on February
16, 1967 with Nadia Nerina as Odette-Odile and Royes Fernandez as Prince
Siegfried. It received its first New York performance at the New York
State Theater on May 9, 1967 with Toni Lander and Bruce Marks. A re-staged
production of Swan Lake received its American Ballet Theatre premiere
in Washington, D. C. at the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing
Arts on March 27, 1981 with Martine van Hamel as Odette-Odile and Kevin
McKenzie as Prince Siegfried.
A new production of Swan Lake with choreography by Lev Ivanov and Marius
Petipa and additional choreography by Mikhail Baryshnikov was given
its world premiere on December 2, 1988 at the Orange County Performing
Arts Center, Costa Mesa, California, danced by Susan Jaffe (Odette-Odile)
and Andris Liepa (Prince Siegfried). This production received its New
York Premiere on May 8, 1989 at the Metropolitan Opera House, danced
by Susan Jaffe (Odette-Odile) and Ross Stretton (Prince Siegfried).
Swan Lake was revived, with staging by Kevin McKenzie and lighting by
Thomas Skelton, on May 21, 1993 at the Metropolitan Opera House, New
York, danced by Susan Jaffe as Odette-Odile and Jeremy Collins as Prince
The World Premiere of this new production was given on March 24, 2000
at the Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts, Washington, D. C., danced
by Julie Kent (Odette-Odile) and Angel Corella (Prince Siegfried).
The New York Premiere of this production was given on May 19, 2000 at
the Metropolitan Opera House, danced by Susan Jaffe (Odette-Odile) and
Jose Manuel Carreño (Prince Siegfried).