Swan Lake About the Ballet

Swan Lake

Dancers Angelina Sansone & Geoffrey Kropp. Photographer Steve Wilson.
Dancers: Molly Wagner and Liang Fu. Photography: Brett Pruitt & East Market Studio.

Swan Lake 

Choreography by Devon Carney after Marius Petipa and Lev Ivanov
Music by Peter I. Tchaikovsky
Lighting Design by Trad A Burns
Associate Lighting Design by Benjamin Gantose
Conducted by Ramona Pansegrau
Repetituers – Kristi Capps, Parrish Maynard, Christopher Ruud
Children’s Coach – Kimberly Cowen
Music Performed by Kansas City Symphony
Scenery and Costumes Courtesy of Ballet West

Prince Siegfried and his guests are gathered together in a forest glade on the outskirts of the castle to celebrate his coming of age, marked by his 21st birthday. Siegfried’s mother, the Queen, interrupts the revelries and offers him a finely crafted crossbow as a birthday gift. She reminds him that the time has come for him to choose a bride at the royal ball the following evening. Siegfried, dissatisfied that he will not marry for love, reluctantly agrees to attend but broods about his impending responsibilities as the Queen departs. Noticing his melancholy mood, Benno, Siegfried’s best friend, attempts to lift the prince’s spirits with a dance in his honor. As his friends leave to continue their revelry, Prince Siegfried remains alone with his thoughts. Benno returns and invites Siegfried to join them on their carefree hunt deep into the surrounding forest.

Once Siegfried arrives at the lake to join Benno and the other hunters, Siegfried realizes he wishes to be left alone and dismisses the hunters as he is still unsettled by thoughts of his future. Suddenly Seigfried watches a flock of swans descend onto the waters. He is about to shoot at a swan when she transforms into a beautiful woman – it is Odette, Queen of the swan-maidens. Siegfried is instantly enchanted by this sight and Odette is terrified and tries to escape. The prince assures her that he means her no harm. Odette reveals that she and her companions are all victims of a terrible spell cast by an evil sorcerer, the von Rothbart. Doomed to live as swans by day, they return to human form only at night by the side of the enchanted lake, formed by the tears of their parents. The spell can only be broken by the oath of faithful love from one who has never loved before. The prince, enraptured, swears his eternal love to Odette. She warns Siegfried that if the vow is broken, all will be lost. As the sun begins to rise Odette bids Siegfried farewell. With the dawn, von Rothbart’s evil spell descends upon the maidens, causing them once again to become swans. Siegfried is left alone to watch his love glide across the lake and fly away.

A grand ball is in process at the castle with guests from many different countries. Many princesses arrive hoping to capture the prince’s favor. Thinking only of Odette, Prince Siegfried is disinterested in the other ladies and the evening’s entertainment. When his mother commands him to choose a bride, Prince Siegfried keeps his vow to Odette and will accept no one. Trumpets sound announcing the arrival of new guests. The evil magician, von Rothbart, appears disguised as a noble with his daughter, Odile. Siegfried is transfixed by Odile, as she has been bewitched to look like Odette. As Odile dances with Siegfried, Odette is seen in the far window of the castle trying to warn Siegfried of this deception. Von Rothbart makes sure she is not noticed so that Siegfried may announce his love for Odile, whom he believes to be Odette. Von Rothbart reveals himself and Odile for who they truly are. Siegfried realizes that he has broken his oath to Odette, dooming her forever to remain a swan. He rushes out of the castle toward the lake to find Odette.

Odette flees back to the lake where the swans lament over what has happened and attempt to console her. Siegfried finds Odette at the edge of the lake and begs her to forgive him. The swans leave, but Odette remains to feel her loved one’s embrace and sadly grants him her forgiveness. They are interrupted by von Rothbart and a fight ensues. Rather than live apart, Odette and Siegfried throw themselves into the lake to be consumed by the raging waters. Von Rothbart’s spell is broken! His power has finally come to an end and the swan-maidens are free. Although no longer in the world of the living, the spirits of Odette and Siegfried are together as a new dawn rises.

World Premiere: Kansas City Ballet, February 19, 2016, Kauffman Center for the Performing Arts

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