Pyotr Tchaikovsky
Swan Lake
Ballet in two acts
Libretto: Vladimir Begichev and Vassily Geltser
Choreography: Marius Petipa, Lev Ivanov, Fedor Lopukhov revised by Valeriy Kovtun and Tetiana Borovyk

Act 1

A magnificent park before a palace.

Prince Siegfried is celebrating his birthday with his tutor, friends and peasants. The revelries are interrupted by Siegfried’s mother, the Queen, who is concerned about her son’s carefree lifestyle. She tells him that he must choose a bride at the royal ball the following evening. Siegfried is upset that he cannot marry for love. His friend Benno and the tutor try to lift his troubled mood. As evening falls, Benno sees a flock of swans flying overhead and suggests they go on a hunt. Siegfried and his friends take their crossbows and set off in pursuit of the swans.

Act 2

A lakeside clearing in a forest by the ruins of a chapel. A moonlit night.

Siegfried has become separated from his friends. He arrives at the lakeside clearing, just as a flock of swans land. He aims his crossbow, but freezes when one of them transforms into a beautiful maiden, Odette. At first, she is terrified of Siegfried. When he promises not to harm her, she explains she and her companions are victims of a spell cast by the evil owl-like sorcerer Rothbart. By day they are turned into swans and only at night, by the side of the enchanted lake – created from the tears of Odette’s mother – do they return to human form. The spell can only be broken if one who has never loved before swears to love Odette forever. Rothbart suddenly appears. Siegfried threatens to kill him but Odette intercedes – if Rothbart dies before the spell is broken, it can never be undone.

As Rothbart disappears, the swan maidens fill the clearing. Siegfried breaks his crossbow, and sets about winning Odette’s trust as the two fall in love. But as dawn arrives, the evil spell draws Odette and her companions back to the lake and they are turned into swans again.

Act 3

An opulent hall in the palace.

Guests arrive at the palace for a costume ball. Four princesses are presented to the prince, as candidates for marriage. Rothbart arrives in disguise with his daughter, Odile, who is transformed to look like Odette. Though the princesses try to attract the prince with their dances, Siegfried has eyes only for Odile. He proclaims to the court that he will marry «Odette» (Odile) before Rothbart shows him a magical vision of Odette. Grief-stricken and realizing his mistake, Siegfried hurries back to the lake.

Act 4

A lakeside

Odette is distraught. The swan-maidens try to comfort her. Siegfried returns to the lake and makes a passionate apology. She forgives him, but his betrayal cannot be undone. Rather than remain a swan forever. But Siegfried chooses to break Rothbart’s spell over the swan maidens by the power of his love to Odette. Rothbart lost his power over swan maidens and he dies. Siegfried and Odette will be together, forever united in love.