the Ballet
Ballet Encyclopedia

Swan Lake

Uliana Lopatkina

Act I: At his castle, Prince Siegfried is celebrating his twenty-first birthday with his friends. His motherarrives and reminds him that he must choose a bride from among the ladies invited to the ball the following day. When Siegfried's mother leaves the party continues, but Siegfried stands apart overcome by a vague melancholy. He sees some white swans fly overhead and decides to leave his friends and go hunt them. Act II: At the banks of a moonlit lake near the castle, a group of swan-maidens appears. The prince has already aimed his bow when the Swan Queen presents herself and tells Siegfried that she is the Princess Odette changed into a swan, like her companions, by the sorcerer Rothbart, a spell from which she can only be freed by one who will swear eternal love to her. Now deeply in love, Siegfried swears he loves Odette and invites her to the ball, then dawn breaks and the swan-maidens are all turned back into swans. Act III: At the ball the prince dances with six young ladies who are presented to him. Then a stranger arrives, Baron Rothbart and his daughter Odile, the evil double of Odette. After looking at her for a while Siegfried decides that she is Odette, his beloved, dances with her, and publicly declares her his bride. Rothbart and his daughter leave in triumph. Then Siegfried sees the white spirit of Odette momentarily at the window and rushes to the lake. Act IV: At the lake, the swans dance sadly as they wait for Odette. When she arrives in tears she falls to the ground among her companions. Siegfried finds her and lifts her tenderly; she is dying. He takes her tiara and throws it into the lake, which rises to submerge both him and Odette. Their spirits fly upwards towards the sky above the lake, which is calm once again.

of note:

The earliest of the Russian "Big Three," Swan Lake is an important part of the repertoire of all of the major classical ballet companies in the world. First staged in 1877 by Wenzel Reisinger, the Petipa version is the one that survives today.