The ballet Swan Lake by Pyotr Tchaikovsky
Most people consider the Swan Lake by Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky to be the most Russian ballet. ” It is Swan that is the symbol of Russian ballet.
Hundreds of beautiful ballerinas created images of Odette and Odile, and dozens of choreographers created their own versions of this immortal performance.
Now it’s not even possible to imagine, but the premiere of Swan Lake at the Bolshoi in 1877 was more than modest. Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky never found out about the future triumphs of his ballet.
Ballet is not an art
In the mid-19th century, serious musicians looked down on ballet, considering it to be second-class art, a relative of melodrama and vaudeville. However, the professor at the conservatory, composer Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky – the famous author of operas, symphonies, instrumental music and romances – regularly attended ballet performances and even understood the technique of dance.
Of course, Tchaikovsky did not even think about writing music for the ballet, and it was not at all a creative impulse, but the prose of life forced him to accept the proposal of the Moscow Imperial Ballet Pyotr Tchaikovsky’s Bolshoi Theater to compose a ballet. The fee for 800 rubles promised for Swan Lake was a great help. Tchaikovsky desperately lacked the salary of a teacher at the Moscow Conservatory, and he frankly admitted that he took up this work partly for the sake of money.
Background of Swan Lake
In 1875, Tchaikovsky began composing the ballet, calling it “Lake of the Swans.” The ballet took place in southern Germany, and the plot narrated the tragic fate of Prince Siegfried and his beloved fairy swans, Odette.
The composition of the ballet was influenced by the creativity of Richard Wagner. Once in his youth, Tchaikovsky first heard his opera “Lohengrin,” and now the theme of the swan knight has once again taken hold of the composer’s thoughts.
For a deeper study of Germany, he went to Bayreuth. It was there, at the presentation of the tetralogy The Ring of the Nibelungs, that Tchaikovsky met Wagner. The name Siegfried, the hero of Wagner’s opera, also became the name of the hero of the ballet Tchaikovsky.
Peter Ilyich was very impressed by the famous patron of Wagner, the Bavarian King Ludwig II. He was called the Swan King. Pyotr Tchaikovsky’s ballet A lone dreamer in love with knightly legends and Wagner’s music, Ludwig was fond of building fantastic castles in the foothills of the Alps. One of them is called the New Swan Castle. Ludwig of Bavaria died in the lake under mysterious circumstances. Tchaikovsky was deeply worried, he did not leave the thought that by the finale of his Swan Lake he had prophesied such a tragic death to the king.
The plot of the ballet
The creator of the Swan Lake libretto was the director of the Bolshoi Theater Vladimir Begichev and the dancer Vasily Gelzer, but soon the choreographer Wenzel Reisenger and Tchaikovsky himself were actively involved in the work on the libretto.
Pyotr Ilyich soon became so carried away by the romantic theme that the voluminous score of the four-act ballet became the ballet of Pyotr Tchaikovsky, the composer’s 36-year-old thinking about his own destiny, about the impulses of a noble soul, about the unattainability of an ideal, about diabolical temptations and about sublime love.
The plot is based on an old German legend about a beautiful girl turned into a white swan. Real and fantastic pictures intertwine in ballet.
Prince Siegfried has fun in the palace park, celebrating coming of age with friends. He notices a flock of swans flying and follows her into the forest. On the shore of the lake among the swan girls, the prince finds Odette, the queen of swans with a crown on her head. Conquered by her beauty and shocked by the story of the persecution by the evil lake owner Rothber, Siegfried swears to Odette in eternal love.
At a ball in the castle, Siegfried’s mother told him to choose a bride. Odile appeared, in which the prince saw Odette, he gave Peter Tchaikovsky’s ballet to her and preferred. Realizing that he had made a fatal mistake, Siegfried ran to the lake to pray to Odette for forgiveness, but did not receive it. Tearing off the crown from Odette’s head, Siegfried defies Rothber, who embodies the image of Fatum (the owner of the lake) in the ballet (the crown saved Odette from persecution). The prince hopes that the Swan girl will go with him into the world of people. The evil spell of knight von Rotber and his daughter Odile led to the death of lovers in the waves of a stormy lake.
Tchaikovsky completed the musical score of the ballet in 1876, not assuming at all that a real masterpiece had come out of his pen.
The premiere of Swan Lake took place on February 20, 1877. Pyotr Tchaikovsky’s ballet Tchaikovsky was waiting for this day with alarm and, as it turned out, not in vain. During the premiere, Tchaikovsky’s first-born ballet was unlucky. He fell victim to not too gifted directors and theatrical intrigues. The score turned out to be very difficult for the full-time choreographer Wenzel Reisenger. Ballet dancer Polina Karpakova danced the premiere. Odette’s party she failed. The reception was cool, the reviews weren’t happy: “The carbalet stomps in the same place, waving its arms like a windmill, and the soloists jump with gymnastic steps around the stage.”