Drawing on ancient Slavic and Norse mythology where destiny is often born out of the mysterious forces of nature, Swan Lake has become a legend in its own right. Tchaikovsky’s first ballet score is imbued with a deep sense of nostalgia, echoing the composer’s own experience of love as elusive as it was impossible.
However the work remained misunderstood until 1895 when Marius Petipa undertook his own choreographic interpretation. With the help of Lev Ivanov, Petipa created majestic figures for the female corps de ballet and breathed life into the swan‑dancer.
In Rudolf Nureyev’s “Freudian” version, conceived for the Paris Opera Ballet in 1984, Prince Siegfried, manipulated by the evil Rothbart, shuns the realities of power and marriage to take refuge in dreams where a magic lake symbolizing idealised love appears to him.
Nureyev elevated the role of the prince to that of the heroine by giving him a deeper psychological dimension whilst opting to give this masterly action ballet a tragic denouement more in tune with its musical substance.
The Etoiles, the Premiers Danseurs and the Paris Opera Corps de Ballet
The Paris Opera Orchestra
A co-production of the Paris National Opera and François Roussillon et Associés, with the participation of Medici.tv / MUSEEC, the support of the Orange Foundation, patron of the Paris National Opera's audiovisual broadcasts, and with the assistance of the Centre National du Cinéma et de l'image animée.
Director: François Roussillon
© Opéra national de Paris - François Roussillon et Associés - 2016
Picture: © Svetlana Loboff / OnP
- Siegfried: Young prince in love with Odette, he swears fidelity to her and seeks to save her from her curse. Unfortunately he is deceived by Rothbart and Odile.
- Odette: Young princess transformed into a swan by Rothbart, only eternal love can free her.
- Odile: Rothbart’s daughter, she takes the appearance of Odette to trick Siegfried.
- Rothbart: A huge bird of prey, he transforms young women into swans and prevents Siegfried and Odette’s union.
- Wolfgang: The Prince’s tutor, he mysteriously disappears when Rothbart appears.