Swan Lake is a classic russian ballet, composed by Pyotr Tchaikovsky in 1875-1876. Swan Lake is a ballet that has become a symbol of Russian art itself.
The performance’s original scenario was based on fairy tales about princess Odette, turned into a swan by evil curse and resqued by prince Siegfried’s love.
World premiere of Swan Lake took place at Bolshoi Theatre in Moscow on 20 February 1877, the choreographer of the production was Julius Resinger. Despite the fact, his work was considered unsuccessful by the critics of the day, Resinger’s original production of Swan Lake was kept in the active repertoire of the Bolshoi Theatre for seven years and was performed over thirty times.
The second birth of the performance was on 15 January 1895 at the Mariinsky Theatre in St.Petersburg. The revival by Marius Petipa and Lev Ivanov is a basis for most ballet companies, staging Swan Lake nowadays.
It is also woth mentioning Swan Lake premiere in London in the Ballets Russes theatre, performed by glorious Sergei Diaghilev with choreography made by Michel Fokine, which took place in 1911.
The Swan Lake performance survived for more than a century without any significant changes since Maruis Petipa’s times and nowadays is being staged in more than 290 theatres all over the world.
Today in 2023 in St.Petersburg Swan Lake ballet is staged in all major ballet theatres: Mariinsky Theatre, Mikhailovsky Theatre, Hermitage Theatre, Alexandrinsky Theatre, Aurora Ballet Hall and Russian Classical Ballet Palace.
The Mariinsky Theatre is a historic stage, where the revised by Marius Petipa version of Swan Lake, considered to be world classic, was premiered in 1895. The meaning of Mariinsky Theatre for russian ballet history and for Swan Lake performance can not be underestimated. The first, the best and the greatest - the most suitable characteristics for Mariinsky Theatre and it’s Swan Lake performance, directed by Maestro Valery Gergiev.
The version of the Swan Lake, staged in Mariinsky Theatre now (Konstantin Sergeyev’s version, based on Marius Petipa’s version) was premiered 8 March 1950 and has not been changed up to date.
If one is lucky enough to buy a couple of tickets to Swan Lake ballet in Mariinsky Theatre - he can truly be sure, he will have a life-time experience. Unfortunately, Swan Lake ballet in Mariinsky Theatre is staged only a dozen times a year, and huge ammount of best-view and good-view tickets immediately goes to black market resellers, where they are sold at least two times more expensive.
The Mikhailovsky Theatre is one of Russia's oldest opera and ballet houses. It was founded in 1833 and is situated in a historical building on the Arts Square in St. Petersburg. The premiere of current production of Swan Lake by Mikhail Messerer, staged in Mikhailovsky Theatre, took place on 15 September 2009. The creator’s major concern was to avoid repeating the brilliant production by Konstantin Sergeyev. That’s why Messerer’s version is based on Alexander Gorsky’s production of Swan Lake. The Mikhailovsky Theatre version of Swan Lake is 10 minutes shorter, than Mariinsky Theatre version. Also it has happy end.
“To my mind, the production corresponds to modern society: everybody wants a happy end today, and our Swan Lake will provide it”, Mikhail Messerer says.
The intimate atmosphere of the Hermitage theatre, which used to be palace theatre hundred years ago, is probably the best place to see the Swan Lake in St. Petersburg.
The balet is performed with the symphonic orchestra here. The classical original choreography is conserved, and colourful decorations and costumes make ballet in the Hermitage theatre even more attractive.
The pecularity of the Hermitage theatre is the small hall without seat categoies, so if you would like to buy the best tickets for Swan Lake ballet in the Hermitage theatre, you should do that beforehands, especially if calls of the big cruise-ships are expected in St. Petersburg seaport.
The Alexandrinsky Theatre used to be the favourite theatre of the royal family. Its stunning magnificent interiors with gorgeous balcony, opened in Summer season,are truly royal. Different local ballet companies, including Konstantine Tachkin theatre, perform here. Swan Lake in the Alexandrinsky theatre is always classical one, whichrerally shorter than in other theatres. Unfortunately it is not that easy to buy the ticket for Swan Lake in the Alexandrinsky theatre, as the companies, which perform here, use to go abroad for ballet-tours, so every ballet performance here is definitely an event.
Although Aurora ballet hall is located in the modern building and is more concert-hall, than theatre, it offerrs unbeatable prices and same quality of ballet, performed by Russian ballet company - one of the best-known in the city. Swan Lake in the Aurora ballet hall has a touch of modernism, however, the choreography is ancient one, created by Minkus in the XIX century. The ballet-hall, located at the beautiful Neva river embankment, is relatively big, so if you want to buy last-minute ticket for the ballet in St. Petersburg, Aurora ballet hall might be good economic option.
Russian Classical Ballet Palace, located at the famous Arts square, has definitely one of the most luxurious interiors in the city, so if you would like to feel the luxury of the Russian ballet theatre, this would be the best option. The performanсe of the Swan Lake in the Russian Classical Ballet Palace is always special with beautiful costumes and gorgeous romantic scene at the end of the performance.
There are plenty of options of purchasing ticket to Swan Lake ballet in Saint-Petersburg.
Mariinsky and Mikhailovsky theatre tickets are the most rare, most valuable and the most expensive. If one is lucky enough to buy a couple of tickets to Swan Lake ballet in Mariinsky or Mikhailovsky theatres - he can truly be sure, he will have a life-time experience. Unfortunately, Swan Lake ballet in Mariinsky and Mikhailovsky theatres is staged only a dozen times a year, and huge ammount of best-view and good-view tickets immediately goes to the black market resellers, where they are sold at least two times more expensive. It is completely useless to hope to get Swan Lake tickets at Mariinsky or Mikhailovsky Theatre on the day of performance. This tickets must be bought in early advance, or being long-time hunted on black-market.
Much more affordable and simple option - is buying ticket to Swan Lakes in “minor” theatres - Hermitage Theatre, Alexandrinsky Theatre, Russian Classical Ballet Palace or Aurora Ballet Hall. They are way cheaper, and Swan Lake performances are staged there almost daily. So if one has limited budget, or wants to get his first Russian Ballet experience - going to the of the mentioned theatres is really good idea.
To book Swan Lake tickets - click here
The classic version of Swan Lake is performed in three acts and four scenes. However the ending varies from romantic to dramatic, depending on the performance.
This is classic libretto, with Tchaikovsky used in 1877.
Act 1, Part 1
Majestic park in front of the palace. Prince Siegfried, is celebrating his birthday with his friends, techer and servants. The Queen, mother of Siegfried, interrupts him. She informs him about the upcoming royal ball, during which he has to choose his future wife.
Siegfried becomes upset, as he won’t be able to marry his love. His teacher and his friend Benno try to calm him.
During the sunset Benno observes the swans flying in the sky, so the friends go hunting.
Act 1, Part 2
Moonlight. Small lake in a forest. Ruins of the church. The beautiful swans are swimming towards the shore. These are beautiful girls, who become human during the night only. They are cursed by the evil wizard Rotbardt, and only the power of the eternal love can help them.
Siegfried sees the white bird and hurts it with the arrow. Suddenly the swan turn to be the beautiful queen of the swans Odetta.
The prince is charmed by the beauty of Odetta. He tries to catch her, but Odetta is afraid of the evil Rotbardt. She gets lost in the roundelay of the girls. Siegfried swears her in the eternal love.
The power of love of Siegfried touches the heart of Odetta. She becomes sure Siegfried will save her from the evil wizard.
The morning comes. The girls have to become swans again. Odetta tells Siegfried goodbye. The white swans disappear.
Act 2. Part 3
It is balltime in the castle of the Queen, mother of Siegfried. Siegfried have to choose his future wife between the noble girls. But he pays no attention to any of them. All his thoughts are only about Odetta. The mother asks him, so hestarts dancing with the girls. But he has to choose one of them and to give her flowers.
Suddenly the new guests arrive. It is the wizzard Rotbardt with his daughter Odilia. The price is impressed, that she is very much alike Odetta. Rotbardt wants the prince to fall in love with Odilia, forget Odetta, and breake his oath of love. In this case Odetta will remain with the wizzard, so he made his daughter similar to Odetta and brought her to the theatre.
Odilia seduces the prince, Siegfried falls in love with her. He tells his mother, that he has chosen beautiful Odilia, and that he loves her. The evil wizard wins. Suddenly Siegfried sees the white swan in the window of the castle, understands everything and runs to the lake to his belowed one.
Act 3, Part 4
It is nighttime. Sad girls are standing at the shore of the lake. They already know about Odetta’s bad luck. Siegfried comes, asking Odetta to forgive him. But the evil Rotbardt comes. He calls the black swans, asking them to separate Odetta and Siegfried.
Siegfried starts to fight with the wizard. He is fighting for his love and luck of Odetta. He breaks Rotbardt’s wing, and the wizard loses his power and dies.
Love wins. Siegfried and Odetta see the sunrise.