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Added on 11th June 2020

Composer Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky
First choreographer Julius Reisinger
First performed Bolshoi Ballet, 1877

A classical ballet with music by Tchaikovsky.

Story

While out hunting Prince Siegfried comes upon a flock of swans. When one of them transforms into a beautiful woman, Odette, he is captivated but she is under a spell which means she can only transform at night and the spell can only be broken when a man swears his undying love to her. The evil spirit who places the spell disguises his daughter as Odette to fool Siegfried.

Why we chose it

Swan Lake is one of the best known and best loved classical ballets.

Where it came from

The original version called The Lake of the Swans had a happy ending with the spell defeated and Siegfried and Odette marrying. However the first performance was a critical failure and the production’s run was finished early. In 1895 the ballet was performed again with the more familiar tragic ending and the lovers parted. This is now the version most often used by modern choreographers

Where it went next

The first British performance was by the Vic-Wells Ballet in 1934 with Alicia Markova as Odette. The Royal Ballet have since performed it over 900 times. The most revived version is Frederick Ashton’s, first performed in 1987. Swan Lake has been performed around the world with many variations and changed endings – sometimes returning to the original with the lovers surviving. One of the most groundbreaking productions was Matthew Bourne’s all male Swan Lake in Melbourne in 2007.

Associated stories

Tchaikovsky’s other ballets The Nutcracker and Sleeping Beauty are performed regularly all over the world.

Added on 11th June 2020

Composer Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky
First choreographer Julius Reisinger
First performed Bolshoi Ballet, 1877