Swan Lake ~ the story within the story!!

Jan 5, 2011, 12:00 PM |


Since it is this ballet that is part of the story in my blog of the film Waterloo Bridge (you can see it here http://www.chess.com/tournament/kev-amp-jens-bogus-tourney), and since I have good Russian friends here each as graceful as any swan, I thought the Russian connection was worth sharing and elaborating on! A story within the story  J

So here we are, the princess (and queen of the swans) Odette, Siegfried and the evil Von Rothbart. . . 


Swan Lake was first performed more than 100years ago, a classic ballet by the great Russian composer Pyotr (Peter) Ilyich Tchaikovsky and it still speaks the same theme today that it did then, because it's themes are timeless and universal ~ it is a story about love and of the capacity for forgiveness.

 The story begins with the beautiful princess Odette encountering the evil Von Rothbart an evil sorcerer who has transformed himself into a charming man, and enticed by him, she is captured and he imprisons her in the body of a swan. Some years later there is a party in honour of Prince Siegfried’s 21st birthday and his mother, the Queen, reminds him that it is his royal obligation to marry and that at the ball the following evening she commands that he will choose a bride.

Siegfried, realizing that his carefree days are over eventually leaves the celebration seeking solace in the woods. There, in the moonlight, a flight of swans glide past and the Swan Queen peels off from the flight and comes to him in the human form of Odette and tells her story. She is condemned to suffer Von Rothbart’s curse forever unless a man swears to her his eternal love ~ only then will the spell be broken! Until then, she has only her crown to protect her.

The following evening when asked to choose his bride he answers “none!” and at that moment the evil Von Rothbart enters with his own daughter Odile, who’s uncanny resemblance to Odette strikes the Prince. Odile herself dances enticingly and the two conjoin together and the Queen and Rothbart announce the betrothal of the young couple. 

Odette is heartbroken and she and her girl-friends, who were also cursed into the bodies of swans, gather around the lake where Prince Siegfried finds them consoling each other. He explains to Odette the trickery of Von Rothbart and she grants him her forgiveness. Soon after, Von Rothbart appears and tells the prince that he must honour his word and marry his daughter or both he and Odette will die. Prince Siegfried refuses and a fight follows. Odette and Siegried die in each other’s arms. Von Rothbart’s evil spell is broken by the power of Odette and Siegfried’s love for each other and Von Rothbart is destroyed by the swans who are released from their enslavement.


 It's as good as it gets! Whether it's on ice or in ballet, somehow the Russians do it better. . .

Just a year or so ago I saw the world-famous Russian Ice Stars perform Beauty and the Beast another musical master-piece and, would you believe it, some of the cast of the Stars were staying in the village next to mine. They used the same local pub and I was lucky enough to become good friends with Svetlana Perkina and met with her there for drinks almost every night after their show, which was fabulous!