Live Cinema Season

Swan Lake (2012)

Recorded | Ballet

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Swan Lake (2012)

Surely the greatest of all Romantic ballets, Swan Lake is a perfect synthesis of choreography and music.

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.

The evil spirit Von Rothbart, arbiter of the curse, disguises his daughter as Odette. Fooled, Siegfried declares his love for her, and so dooms Odette to suffer under the curse forever. Siegfried and Odette drown themselves and are united in death.


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.



Marius Petipa and Lev Ivanov

Additional choreography

Frederick Ashton and David Bintley


Pyotr Il’yich Tchaikovsky


Anthony Dowell


Yolanda Sonnabend

Lighting design

Mark Henderson

Production consultant

Roland John Wiley


Boris Gruzin
Zenaida Yanowsky
Prince Siegfried
Nehemiah Kish
Von Rothbart
Gary Avis
Orchestra of the Royal Opera House

News and features

To find out more visit the Swan Lake (2012) production page.