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Date: 09.02.2018

The Csardas Princess (1934)

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The Csardas Princess (1934)

You are hoping that Natalie Portman will make a stage appearance. We all know the story. Virginal girl, pure and sweet, trapped in the body of a swan. She desires freedom but only true love can break the spell. Her wish is nearly granted in the form of a prince, but before he can declare his love her lustful twin, the Black Swan, tricks and seduces him.

Devastated the White Swan leaps of a cliff killing herself and, in death, finds freedom. Birdwomen, aquawomen and shapeshifting females in general have long featured in Eastern and Western tales.

A number of these are consistently cited as influences on Swan Lake: The argument was very different from the Swan Lake we now know: Her grandfather keeps her and companions safe at a lake by night, allowing them to fly about as swans by day. Odette wears a magical crown which protects her from the witch. Siegfried falls for her but betrays her at a ball.

Odette refuses to forgive him, so he snatches her crown in desperation. The lovers are now at the mercy of the witch and the waters of the lake engulf them. Alban Lendorf as Prince Siegfried. The composer had created two important ballet scores - The Sleeping Beauty and The Nutcracker — and plans to bring Swan Lake to the Mariinsky had existed for a while.

Sara Mearns as Odette and Odile. Swan Lake premiered 15 January, at the Mariinsky. To partner Legnani, Pavel Gerd was cast as Siegfried. The ballet was well received although it would take a few years for it to become a global success: A full version is staged around in Europe.

Ulyana Lopatkina as Odette. Under the Soviet regime the tragic ending is substituted for a happy one, so that in the Mariinsky and Bolshoi versions Odette and Siegfried now live happily ever after. This production is eventually adopted by La Scala where it still remains in repertory and the Paris Opera Ballet. Later, as director of the Paris Opera Ballet he creates another version of the ballet, facing hostility and skepticism from his dancers who are very attached to the Bourmeister staging.

Most importantly the ballet has a darker ending than most Western productions: In this production is adopted by the New York City Ballet.

About half an hour of the complete score is omitted from this staging. Interest in Swan Lake is renewed as a new public seeks to discover the ballet within the movie. When Siegfried arrives he is greeted by his tutor, friends and peasants. Worried about her son she tells him that he has to choose a bride at his birthday ball the following evening. Siegfried is reluctant but has no choice but to obey his mother.

The tutor and his friends do their best to cheer him up and as darkness falls his friend Benno sees a flock of swans in the sky and suggests they go out on a hunt. They take crossbows and set off. Siegfried is just about to shoot one of them when he is frozen by the sight of it transforming into a maiden. At first terrified of him, she starts to trust him when he promises not to harm her. Through ballet mime the Swan Queen, Odette explains the spell the evil spirit Von Rothbart has put on her and companions.

By day they are swans, yet they return to human form at night. The spell can only be broken if a man swears to love her and to be faithful to her. Siegfried is about to shoot him but Odette prevents him from harming the spirit, telling him that if he does so the spell will never be broken.

As Siegfried exits in pursuit of Odette, Rothbart summons the other swan maidens. Odette enters and dances a lyrical pas de deux with Siegfried where slowly she yields to him and he earns her trust. As dawn arrives Rothbart returns and Odette morphs back into swan form.

Helmuth Rudolph

While he tries to argue that does not love any of them, Rothbart, in human form, arrives with his daughter Odile. Despite being dressed in black she looks uncannily like Odette. The guests now sit and watch dancers from Spain, Hungary, Naples and Russia perform in honour of the prince. She tries to channel the same swan-like movements as Odette to seduce the Prince.

As they dance Odette appears in the background to warn him but Rothbart and Odile ensure that the Prince is oblivious to the apparition. The Prince is completely taken with Odile and swears to love her forever.

Rothbart reveals a vision of the grieving Swan Queen, before disappearing with his daughter. Frantically, Siegfried hurries back to the lake as his mother collapses. The other swan maidens try to solace and comfort her. A storm rises and Siegfried enters searching for Odette. He finally finds her and he swears he loves only her. She forgives him, but Rothbart appears and insists that Siegfried marry his daughter, after which Odette will become a swan forever… Alternate endings: Siegfried prefers to die alongside Odette.

As the pair throw themselves into the lake, the spell is broken, Von Rothbart is destroyed and the lovers are reunited in heaven. The power of his love for Odette destroys the spirit, the spell is now broken; the lovers are reunited and the swan maidens are also free.

Other Versions Swan Lake is one of the most successful ballets of all time and there are simply too many versions to list. This one-act version premiered with Maria Tallchief as the Swan Queen. His distant mother and desire for freedom are represented by a beautiful Swan that will eventually betray the prince. The figures of Rothbart and Odile are represented by a single character — the Baroness Rothbart — who snatches Siegfried away from Odette.

Swan Lake was the first ballet Tchaikovsky composed. Years earlier he had began working on a score for Cinderella but he seems to have abandoned the idea, of which no records survive.

The new score was completed by April Swan Lake would eventually change the public perception of music for ballet but, at the time, Tchaikovsky did not realise he had written a masterpiece.