When to see it
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 enchanted and determines to break the curse that holds her captive.
Swan Lake is now one of the best loved of all classical ballets, but on its 1877 premiere it was a disaster. The original choreographers had failed to recognize the brilliant innovations in Tchaikovsky's score – his first for ballet. By 1895 times had changed and the great Mariinsky classical choreographers Marius Petipa and Lev Ivanov were able to bring to their choreography an intense lyricism that matched Tchaikovsky's own. Their choreography for the ballet remains popular the world over.
Great Russian dancer and choreographer Konstantin Sergeyev staged Petipa and Ivanov's choreography for the Mariinsky in 1950, and his production is a much loved staple of the company's repertory. Sergeyev brought his acute dramatic understanding of Swan Lake to create a sensitive preservation of the original choreography, in which the Mariinsky's acclaimed corps de ballet is brought to the fore.