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Imperial Russian Ballet - The Classical Era

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Christine Shawl

on 2 November 2015

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Transcript of Imperial Russian Ballet - The Classical Era

The Classical Era
The Classical Era
Many of the great dancers and choreographers leave Paris for St. Petersburg, therefore shifting the center for great ballet from France to Russia.
Imperial Russian Ballet
History
Influential Teachers
Johansson, Ceccheti, Probejenska, Vaganova
Choreographers
Marius Petipa, Lev Ivanov
Petipa's Classical Ballets
THE CLASSICAL ERA
1850-1909
Characteristics of Classicism
Classicism - a style based on the study of Greek and Roman models, characterized by emotional restraint and regularity of form, associated with the 18th century in Europe.

Characteristics of Classical Era Ballet
Ballets are bigger, longer, more expensive
Increased pointe work (more difficult, longer duration)
Fully extended developes and more open expansive positions
Tutu shortened to show off the whole leg
Narrative mixed with technical virtuosity
Male partner parallels the female to show off the ballerina and create a picture (female dancer becomes even more prominent)
Musical Score becomes as important (famous) as the dance (character themes established)
Established under the Tsar in 1738, the Imperial Russian Ballet began as a school created to form the first Russian Ballet Company, now known as The Mariinsky Ballet, based in St. Petersburg, Russia (1914 Petrograd, 1924 Leningrad, 1991 back to Saint Petersburg).
http://www.mariinsky.ru/en/company/ballet/troupe/
Jean-Baptiste Landé was the first and founding ballet master of the Imperial Russian Ballet.

Originally from France he was employed in Sweden, then asked to come to Russia as gymnastic teacher at a military academy.

After a performance for the Empress Anna Ivanova he was invited to establish the Imperial Russian Ballet school
The Mariinsky Ballet is one of the world's leading ballet companies. Internationally, the Mariinsky Ballet is most commonly known by its former Soviet name the Kirov Ballet.
Agrippina Vaganova
1879-1951
1917 Russian Civil war shuts ballet school down—Vaganova keeps the Russian teaching alive during this time. 1934 Vaganova system becomes standard for all of Russia after her book "Basic Principles of Classical Ballet" is published. 1957 Imperial Russian Ballet School renamed in Vaganova's honor.
VAGANOVA TIMELINE

1879—Agrippina Vaganova born
1897—Vaganova accepted into corps de ballet of the Mariinsky Theatre
1915—Vaganova receives the title of ballerina
1916—Vaganova leaves stage as a performer for good
1918—Vaganova begins teaching for the private Russian School of Ballet
1921—Vaganova moves to teach at the Leningrad State Ballet School
1923—Vaganova’s first excellent pupils are turned out
1931-1937—Vaganova heads ballet ensemble of the Academic Theater of Opera and Ballet
1933—Vaganova’s version of Swan Lake is performed
1934—"Basic Principles of Classical Ballet" first appears and Vaganova system becomes standard for all of Russia
1935—Vaganova’s version of Esmeralda is performed
1935—Academic Theatre of Opera and Ballet renamed the Kirov Ballet
1946—Vaganova becomes a professor at the Leningrad Choreographic School
1951—Vaganova departs from this world, leaving an impressive legacy
1957—Leningrad Ballet School renamed in her honor

The Vaganova Method
A typical lesson in the Vaganova method is well planned out; Vaganova did not believe in the improvisation of a teacher at a lesson. As a result of careful planning, lessons moved quickly, allowing the dancers to benefit from exciting and challenging practices. Vaganova would also make sure that the dancers understood the reason behind every exercise; a pupil would not only be able to master a step, but also explain how to perform in correctly and its purpose. Many times Vaganova would make her students write down combinations to analyze why a step was unsuccessfully executed, imprinting upon them a complete knowledge of how each movement was coordinated. Vaganova would also attempt to inspire a creative initiative among her students by asking them to create combinations on steps that they learned during lessons. The result of all this careful instruction and attention to detail was a form of dance that projected the “very essence of Soviet ballet as an art of great meaning, lofty lyricism, and heroic spirit”
Contemporary Russians

Agrippina Vaganova did more than compile the styles of French and Italian ballet performance in the development of her style, she looked to Russian performers and choreographers in order to stay true to the most distinctive features of purely Russian dancing. Vaganova’s teacher Yekaterina Vazem imprinted the importance of strength and softness in plie, Olga Preobrajenska’s advice on elucidation of the Italian method, the Russian “cantilena” of movements from Anna Pavlova and Tamara Karsavina, and the rare spirituality in the choreography of Fokine. It became Vaganova’s life goal to blend the elements of Russian expression with French grace and Italian technique to create a new “science of ballet”.


French Foundation
Vaganova received instruction from several prominent French instructors,like Nikolai Legat and Pavel Gerdt, who could be traced to Christian Johansson, the famous Danish instructor, and the choreographer August Bournonville who was directly related to french choreographers of the eighteenth century like Jean-Georges Noverre.
A traditional French lesson emphasized very soft and graceful movements, which Vaganova viewed as unnecessarily artificial and decorative. For example, the arms would be beautifully posed with softened and lowered elbows, with fingers delicately outstretched. Although the arms appeared delicate, no power or energy could be derived from them. In short, the measured and tranquil style of French lessons restricted “balletic virtuosity”.

Italian Influences
Russian ballet was greatly influenced by the work of Italians, such as instructor Enrico Cecchetti and performers Pierina Legnani, and Carlotta Brianza. The pinnacle of Italian influence was during the last quarter of the nineteenth century when Cecchetti’s control of the St. Petersburg stage flourished with the swift successes of Russian pupils.
A typical Italian lesson focused on mastering technique—it was the goal of Italian ballerinas to astonish the audience with moves of amazing technical complexity such as 32 consecutive fouettes. Lessons were well thought out with a fixed study plan for every day of the week, a structure that Vaganova admired greatly. The advantages to the Italian style were a reliable aplomb (steadiness), dynamic turns, and the strength and endurance of the feet. However, the excessive angularity of movement in the Italian style lacked poetry and content. Italian arms were bent at the elbows and stretched out too far, and the legs tucked under in jumps.

Enrico Cecchetti
Enrico Cecchetti was an Italian ballet dancer, teacher, and founder of the Cecchetti method.

Italian trained son of two dancers; first performed at age 5

1870-1890 - In demand throughout Europe as a dancer; known for his agility and strength

1890 he was appointed dancer and second ballet master at the Imperial Russian Ballet in St. Petersburg.

In Petipa’s Sleeping Beauty he was the original Blue Bird (1890) and, later, Carabosse (1921). In Mikhail Fokine's Petrouchka (1911) he portrayed the role of the Charlatan.

After an esteemed career in Russia, he turned to teaching. Some of his students included these notable dancers of the Classical Era: Anna Pavlova, Agrippina Vaganova, Olga Preobrajenska, Tamara Karsavina, Alexander Gorsky, Nicolai Legat, Mikhail Fokine, Vaslav Nijinsky, Léonide Massine, Adolph Bolm, Alexandra Danilova, Alicia Markova.
1850-1928
Cecchetti Method Training
Strict training system with focus on anatomy within the confines of classical ballet technique. The Cecchetti method of ballet strives to train its dancers by reducing ballet to an exact science.
Planned exercise routines for each day of the week.
Each part of the body is worked evenly.
Each exercise is performed starting one side one week, and the other side the next week.
The goal is for the student to learn to dance by studying and internalizing the basic principles in an effort to become self-reliant rather than imitating the movements executed by their teacher.

Students take graded examinations based on The Royal Academy of Dance (RAD) set syllabus
In America the examination levels are Grades 1-4, Elementary, Intermediate, Advanced and Diploma.
The grades are:
Pass on condition,
Pass
Passed plus
Passed Commended
Passed Highly Commended
Passed with honors (very rarely given)


"The feeling of great gratitude I have for what you have taught me, is blended with my love and respect for your personality.“

"When you finished your brilliant career as the first dancer of your day, you devoted your life to the difficult art of teaching others; with what proud satisfaction you can now look round, for in every part of the world nearly all who have made a name for themselves in choreography at the present time have passed through your hands. If our goddess, Terpsichore, is still in our midst, you, by right, are her favored High Priest."

Quote by Anna Pavlova about Cecchetti
1892 he focused on teaching and developed his teaching methods based on the Italian School.
Considered the technical marvel of the ballet world, it was said that no one could become a finished ballet dancer without passing through Cecchetti's hands.
It is in the tradition of classical ballet that technique is passed on directly. Enrico Cecchetti was taught by Giovanni Lepri who was taught by Carlo Blasis and the line can be traced back to Beauchamps the first ballet master at the court of Louis XIV.
In 1905 opened his own school. In 1910, he was about to retire, when Diaghilev persuaded him to become ballet master of the Ballets Russes.

Every member of the Diaghilev ballet was taught daily classes by the "Maestro," as dancers lovingly called him. He was the link between the past and the present, contributing to the birth of modern classical ballet.
Ceccheti Method in the UK
Dame Marie Rambert
Cecchetti student
Established a professional ballet school teaching his methods in the United Kingdom which leads to the establishment of UK's first ballet company
Dame Ninette de Valois
Colleague of Cecchetti during her career with the Ballet Russes
Favored the Cecchetti Method when established The Royal Ballet School and The Royal Ballet in London
Phyllis Bedells
Cecchetti student
Founding member of the Royal Academy of Dance (RAD)
Today is the worlds largest Classical Ballet teaching organization
http://www.rad.org.uk/about/about-the-rad/history

The Bolshoi Ballet

- Began as a dance school for a Moscow orphanage in 1773

- Dancers from the school were employed to form part of a new ballet company

- despite staging many famous ballets, it struggled to compete with the reputation of the Imperial Russian Ballet, (today's Mariinsky Ballet/Kirov Ballet)

- In 1900 Alexander Gorsky was appointed Ballet Master

- Under his direction the company began to develop its own unique identity with critically acclaimed productions

- Stylistically Bolshoi is considered more bold and colorful where Mariinsky is defined by pure, refined classicism
Olga Preobrajenska 1871-1962
Russian prima ballerina who was known for her lyrical dancing style and who also became known as an influential teacher.

Preobrajenska began her ballet training in 1879 at the Imperial Russian Ballet School where her teachers included Christian Johansson, Lev Ivanov, and Marius Petipa. After graduating, she began taking lessons from the Italian teacher Enrico Cecchetti, and she joined the Mariinsky Ballet in 1889, earning the title of prima ballerina in 1900.



Preobrajenska’s extensive repertoire included leading roles in Coppélia, La Fille mal gardée, Esmeralda, The Nutcracker, Sleeping Beauty, and Les Sylphides. Unlike her peer, Anna Pavlova, Preobrajenska was not known for her dramatic acting. Instead, the lyrical creativity of her performances and her love of improvisation made her a favorite among critics and audiences alike. She was also highly regarded for her versatility as a dancer; she was equally comfortable dancing both tragic and comic roles, in both classical and avant-garde productions. Preobrajenska’s fame as a dancer was not limited to the Russian stage; she toured extensively in the early 1900s, making guest appearances throughout Europe and in South America.

Preobrajenska continued to take lessons throughout her career, and she worked diligently to master the expressive possibilities of dance. She applied this interest in technique and careful analysis of movement to her own teaching efforts at the Imperial Russian Ballet School, where she held positions from 1901 to 1902 and again from 1914 until 1921. As an instructor, she helped to form the next generation of Russian dancers, including Agrippina Vaganova, who would go on to become an influential ballet teacher as well.

Preobrajenska moved to Paris in 1923. There she established a ballet school, where she held classes until her retirement in 1960. Her studio produced many accomplished dancers, including Irina Baronova and Tamara Toumanova (two of the three “baby ballerinas” of the Ballets Russes de Monte Carlo), and famous English ballerina Margot Fonteyn.

The stage of the Mariinsky Theatre with the cast of the scene The Kingdom of the Shades from Marius Petipa's La Bayadère.
St. Petersburg, Russia, 1900
Marius Petipa, the "father of classical ballet," was born in Marseilles, France, in 1819. He began his dance training at the age of seven with his father, Jean Petipa, the French dancer and teacher.

In 1839 Marius left to tour North America with his father, and on their return visit went to Paris. The following year he made his debut when he partnered Carlotte Grisi in a benefit performance. He continued his studies with Auguste Vestris and became a principal dancer in Bordeaux.

Petipa next went to Spain in 1845, to work at the King's Theatre. While in Madrid, he studied Spanish dance.

Petipa returned to Paris as a principal dancer, but in 1847 left for Russia. He had signed a one-year contract with the St. Petersburg Imperial Theatre, but was to remain there for the rest of his life.

As a principal dancer, Petipa often appeared with Fanny Elssler and was much acclaimed for his performances. Considered an excellent dancer and partner, his acting, stage manners and pantomime were held up as examples for many generations of dancers.

When Giselle was revived in 1850, Petipa made some changes in the Wilis scenes, which became the Grand Pas des Wilis of 1884.

Sources differ on the first original work he staged for the Imperial Theatre. All sources concur that his first great success was The Daughter of Pharoh (staged in six weeks), which resulted in his appointment as Choreographer-in-Chief in 1862 -- a position he held for nearly fifty years.
In 1869 Petipa became Premier Ballet Master of the Imperial Theatre.

He produced more than sixty full-evening ballets and innumerable shorter works and he is considered to have laid the foundation for the entire school of Russian ballet.

Those who felt the dramatic content of ballet should be strengthened began to oppose Petipa toward the end of his career. His noble classicism and consciousness of form was considered old-fashioned, and in 1903, at age 84, Petipa was forced to retire from the Imperial Theatre as a direct result of the failure of his ballet, The Magic Mirror. His last years were filled with bitterness and disillusionment because his beloved theatre had been taken away. He died in St. Petersburg in 1910.

Marius Petipa is considered one of the greatest choreographers of all time. He researched the subject matter of the ballets he staged, making careful and detailed preparations for each production, and then worked closely with the designer and composer. Petipa elevated the Russian ballet to international fame and laid the cornerstone for 20th Century ballet. His classicism integrated the purity of the French school with Italian virtuosity.
Classical Ballets
Don Quixote (1869)
La Bayadere (1877)
Sleeping Beauty (1890)*
The Nutcracker (1892)*
Swan Lake (1895)*
*all Tchaikovsky scores
Solidified the use of the Grand Pas de Deux
The entrée (entrance of stars)
The adagio (stately section)
Male variation (solo)
Female variations (solo)
Coda (reunited, short, flashy)
Advanced technique more toward virtuosic
Originally called the Imperial Russian Ballet. School was originally called St. Petersburg ballet.
After the Russian Revolution (1917) the soviet government closed the school and the company as an unwanted symbol of the tsarist regime.
The company reopened as The Soviet Ballet. School reopened later as the Leningrad State Choreographic School. School was then renamed the Vaganova Academy of Russian Ballet in 1957 in honor of teacher Agrippina Vaganova.
The Soviet Ballet was renamed in 1935 following the 1934 assassination of the Bolshevik revolutionary Sergey Kirov (still used when touring). After the end of communist rule (1991) the company took on The Mariinsky Ballet because they were housed in the historic Mariinsky Theater.
Christian Johansson 1817-1903
Teacher, choreographer and coaching ballet master for the Russian Imperial Ballet.

Born in Stockholm, Sweden, he moved to Russia as a dancer and stayed on as one of the most important teachers in Russian history.

He is remembered in Russia as exemplifying the artistic beauty of the male dancer. He began teaching in 1860 and by 1869, had become the leading ballet instructor at the Imperial Russian Ballet School. He stayed there until his death in 1903.

Johansson studied under Bournonville and partnered the great ballerina Marie Taglioni.
Formal
Restrained
Harmony
Symmetry
Order
(emotion was secondary)
Other notable Ballet Masters:
Charles Didelot
Jules Perrot
Arthur Saint-Leon
Christian Johannson
Enrico Cecchetti
Lev Ivanov
Marius Petipa
Mikhail (Michel) Fokine
Historically, Ivanov is credited with choreographing the entirety of the premiere of Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky's ballet The Nutcracker in 1892 due to the ill health of Ballet Master Marius Petipa. While some contemporary and modern accounts dispute this, Ivanov is still mentioned in The New Grove Dictionary of Music and Musicians, Second Edition with choreographing at least the majority of the ballet as Petipa had reportedly not progressed very far in his work.

Regardless of the amount of work he actually did, Pepita's was the only name listed for choreography on posters for the first production in St. Petersburg.

Ivanov also worked with Petipa on a new restaging of Tchaikovsky's Swan Lake ballet in 1895, choreographing the second and fourth acts (The two lakeside acts) himself, as well as the Neapolitan/Venetian Dance and the Hungarian Dance.

At the end of his life Ivanov was forced to petition the Imperial Theatres for financial assistance on the strength of his 50 years of service; he died in poverty.

“May you ever be blessed with the spirit and strength not to regard your profession merely as a means of livelihood, but as an Art to which you are resolved to dedicate your very soul.”
Lev Ivanov 1834-1910
Marius Petipa 1818-1910
Petipa's Contributions
The Sleeping Beauty
Swan Lake
The Nutcracker
The Nutcracker Synopsis

Act I

Scene 1: The Stahlbaum Home

It is Christmas Eve. Family and friends have gathered in the parlor to decorate the beautiful Christmas tree in preparation for the party. Once the tree is finished, the children are sent for. They stand in awe of the tree sparkling with candles and decorations.

The party begins. A march is played. Presents are given out to the children. Suddenly, as the grandfather clock strikes eight, a mysterious figure enters the room. It is Drosselmeyer, a local councilman, magician, and Clara's godfather. He is also a talented toymaker who has brought with him gifts for the children, including four lifelike dolls who dance to the delight of all. He then has them put away for safekeeping.

Clara and Fritz are sad to see the dolls being taken away, but Drosselmeyer has yet another toy for them: a wooden nutcracker carved in the shape of a little man, used for cracking nuts. The other children ignore it, but Clara immediately takes a liking to it. Fritz, however, purposely breaks it. Clara is heartbroken.

During the night, after everyone else has gone to bed, Clara returns to the parlor to check on her beloved nutcracker. As she reaches the little bed, the clock strikes midnight and she looks up to see Drosselmeyer perched atop it. Suddenly, mice begin to fill the room and the Christmas tree begins to grow to dizzying heights. The nutcracker also grows to life-size. Clara finds herself in the midst of a battle between an army of gingerbread soldiers and the mice, led by their King.

The nutcracker appears to lead the soldiers, who are joined by tin ones and dolls who serve as doctors to carry away the wounded. As the Mouse King advances on the still-wounded nutcracker, Clara throws her slipper at him, distracting him long enough for the nutcracker to stab him.

Scene 2: A Pine Forest

The mice retreat and the nutcracker is transformed into a handsome Prince. He leads Clara through the moonlit night to a pine forest in which the snowflakes dance around them, beckoning them on to his kingdom as the first act ends.
Act II

Scene 1: The Land of Sweets

Clara and the Prince travel to the beautiful Land of Sweets, ruled by the Sugar Plum Fairy in his place until his return. He recounts for her how he had been saved from the Mouse King by Clara and had been transformed back into his own self.

In honor of the young heroine, a celebration of sweets from around the world is produced: chocolate from Spain, coffee from Arabia, and tea from China all dance for their amusement; candy canes from Russia; Danish shepherdesses perform on their flutes; Mother Ginger has her children, the Polichinelles, emerge from under her enormous hoop skirt to dance; a string of beautiful flowers perform a waltz. To conclude the night, the Sugar Plum Fairy and her Cavalier perform a dance.

The captivating pair dance lighter than air. This beautiful dance completes Clara’s most perfect evening. The festival concludes when everyone comes together on the court and bids Clara and the Nutcracker Prince farewell. She tells the Nutcracker she wishes the adventure would never end and he tells her it won’t for those who have an eye to see it.

Clara wakes up the next morning under the Christmas tree with her Nutcracker still in her arms.
Prologue (The Christening)

King Florestan and his Queen have welcomed their first child, Princess Aurora, and declare a grand christening ceremony to honor her. Six fairies are invited to the ceremony to bestow gifts on the child. Each fairy represents a virtue or positive trait, such as beauty, courage, sweetness, musical talent, and mischief (the names of fairies and their gifts vary in productions). The most powerful fairy, the Lilac Fairy, arrives with her entourage, but before she can bestow her gift, the palace grows dark. With a clap of thunder, the evil fairy Carabosse arrives (typically played by a female character dancer, or a male dancer in drag) with her minions (generally several male dancers depicted as rats or insects). Carabosse furiously asks the King and Queen why she had not received an invitation to the christening. The blame falls to the Master of Ceremonies who was in charge of the guest list. Carabosse gleefully throws his wig off and beats him with her staff, before placing a curse upon the baby princess as revenge: Aurora will indeed grow up to be a beautiful, virtuous and delightful young lady, but on her sixteenth birthday she will prick her finger on a spindle and die. The King and Queen are horrified and beg Carabosse for mercy, but she shows none. However, the Lilac Fairy intervenes. Though she does not have enough power to completely undo the curse, she alters it, allowing the spindle to cause a peaceful 100-year sleep for the princess, rather than death. At the end of those 100 years, she will be woken by the kiss of a handsome prince. Relieved that Aurora's life will ultimately be spared, the court is set at ease.
Act II (The Vision)

One hundred years later, Prince Désiré is at a hunting party with his companions. He is in a mopey mood, unhappy with his bossy countess girlfriend. His friends try to cheer him up with a game of blind man's bluff and a series of dances. Still unhappy, he asks to be alone and the hunting party departs. Alone in the forest, he is met by the Lilac Fairy, who has chosen him to awaken Aurora. She shows him a vision of the beautiful princess, and the prince is immediately smitten. The Lilac Fairy explains the situation, and Désiré begs to be taken to the princess. The Lilac Fairy takes him by boat to the castle and guides through the deep forest until at last, they reach the hidden castle. Once inside the castle, Désiré awakens Aurora with a kiss. The rest of the court wakes as well, and the King and Queen heartily approve when the prince proposes marriage and the princess accepts.

Act III (The Wedding)

The royal wedding is underway. Guests include the Jewel Fairies: Diamond, Gold, Silver and Sapphire, the Lilac Fairy and even Carabosse. Fairytale characters are in attendance, including Puss in Boots and The White Cat, Princess Florine and the Bluebird, Little Red Riding Hood and the Wolf, Cinderella and Prince Charming, Beauty and the Beast, and others. Aurora and Désiré perform a grand Pas de Deux, and the entire ensemble dances a mazurka. The prince and princess are married, with the Lilac Fairy blessing the union.
Act I (The Spell)

It is the day of Princess Aurora's sixteenth birthday. Celebrations are underway, though the King is still unsettled by Carabosse's omen. The Master of Ceremonies discovers several peasant ladies knitting nearby (a forbidden activity, as it involves spindles potentially harmful to the princess) and alerts the King, who initially sentences the women to a harsh punishment. The Queen gently persuades him to spare the innocent citizens, and he agrees. The townsfolk perform an elaborate waltz with flower garlands, and Princess Aurora arrives afterwards. She is introduced to four suitors by her doting parents. Aurora and the suitors perform the famous Rose Adagio, one of the most notoriously difficult sequences in all of ballet. Presently, a cloaked stranger appears and offers a gift to the princess: a spindle. Having never seen one before, Aurora curiously examines the strange object as her parents desperately try to intervene. As predicted, she pricks her finger on the spindle (in some versions, the "gift" is a nonthreatening bouquet of flowers or a tapestry with the spindle hidden within). While initially appearing to recover quickly, she falls into a swoon and collapses. The cloaked stranger reveals herself to be Carabosse, who believes that her curse still stands and that the princess is dead. Once again, the Lilac Fairy quells the hubbub and reminds the King and Queen that Aurora is merely asleep. The princess is carried off to bed, and the Lilac Fairy casts a spell of slumber over the entire kingdom, which will only be broken when Aurora awakens. She then uses her magic to cover the castle in layers of vines.
Prologue: Long before our story begins, Odette, a beautiful princess, falls under the spell of von Rothbart, a wicked sorcerer.

Act I - The Prince’s Birthday Party: It is Prince Siegfried’s 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 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 mother’s tears. She tells him she is condemned for eternity, and only if a man swears eternal fidelity to her and marries her can she find release. Only then can the spell be broken. If not, 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, made to look like Odette to fool Siegfried. Siegfried is seduced by her. 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 Rothbart’s 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. The lovers are united in life after death.
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