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When to see it

The Story

Prince Siegfried chances upon a flock of swans while out hunting. When one of the swans turns into a beautiful woman, Odette, he is instantly captivated and determines to break the spell that holds her captive.

Read more… (Contains spoilers)

Background

Swan Lake was Pyotr Il’yich Tchaikovsky's first score for ballet. Its 1877 premiere was poorly received, but it has since become one of the most loved of all ballets. The twinned role of the radiant White Swan and the scheming, duplicitous Black Swan tests the full range of a ballerina's powers, particularly in the two great pas de deux of Acts II and III. Other highlights include the charming Dance of the Little Swans performed by a moonlit lake and sweeping ballroom waltzes in the splendour of the royal palace.

Anthony Dowell's glorious interpretation uses classical choreography created by Lev Ivanov and Marius Petipa for the ballet's revised 1895 version. Dramatic costumes emphasize the contrast between human and spirit worlds, while glowing lanterns, shimmering fabrics and designs inspired by the work of Peter Carl Fabergé create a magical setting.

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On Wikipedia

Swan Lake (Russian: Лебединое озеро / Lebedinoye ozero), Op. 20, is a ballet composed by Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky in 1875–1876. The scenario, initially in four acts, was fashioned from Russian folk tales and tells the story of Odette, a princess turned into a swan by an evil sorcerer's curse. The choreographer of the original production was Julius Reisinger. The ballet was premiered by the Bolshoi Ballet on 4 March [O.S. 20 February] 1877 at the Bolshoi Theatre in Moscow. Although it is presented in many different versions, most ballet companies base their stagings both choreographically and musically on the 1895 revival of Marius Petipa and Lev Ivanov, first staged for the Imperial Ballet on 15 January 1895, at the Mariinsky Theatre in St. Petersburg. For this revival, Tchaikovsky's score was revised by the St. Petersburg Imperial Theatre's chief conductor and composer Riccardo Drigo.

Abstract taken from the Wikipedia article Swan Lake, available under a Creative Commons license.