The Bolshoi in Cinema—Swan Lake

~By Norm Robins~

The Bolshoi Ballet continues this season of classics with Swan Lake. Composed by Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky in 1875-76, this is one of the most beloved ballets in the canon of dance. It was poorly received at first with the music labeled too symphonic, too complicated to be danced to.

This story is from German and Russian folk tales and varies from time to time with the telling. One version tells the story of Princess Odette who was turned into a swan by the sorcerer Rothbart’s curse. Prince Siegfried is a fun loving sort of young man, but amidst all the revelry at his birthday celebration with his friends his mother tells him he must pick a bride at the royal ball scheduled for tomorrow. Not happy that he can’t marry for love, he and his friends see a flock of swans and decide to go on a hunt.

Night descends. Siegfried is separated from his friends and finds himself in a clearing beside a lake. A flock of swans land. One of them transforms into the beautiful maiden Odette. She tells him she is under the spell of the evil Rothbart. During the day they are swans, but in the evening by the lake made from the tears of Odette’s mother they become human. The spell on her can be broken only if a man who has never loved before swears to love Odette forever. The two fall in love. But as morning breaks she has turned again into a swan.

The scene changes to the ball the next night where Siegfried must choose a bride. Rothbart arrives in disguise with his daughter Odile whom he transforms to look like Odette. Frequently, Odette and Odile are danced by the same ballerina but in different costumes. Siegfried wrongly thinks he is in love with Odile. Odette comes to warn him he has been duped and this maiden is not her. Recognizing his mistake and that he has broken his vow to Odette to love only her forever he rushes back to the lake.

Siegfried apologized profusely to Odette, but what has been done has been done. Odette chooses to die rather than remain a swan. Siegfried wants to die with her. They both jump into the lake where they will stay together forever. This breaks Rothbart’s power, and he dies allowing the swan maidens to once again be maidens. They watch as Odette and Siegfried ascend into heaven.

Swan Lake will be telecast to the Riverside 12 and Summit Sierra theaters live on Sunday, February 23, 2020. Curtain time is 12:55 PM. Run time is 2 hrs. 25 minutes.

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