The classical ballet Swan Lake is a bright pearl on the crown of ballet art and one of the greatest masterpieces in ballet history. Swan Lake is also of extraordinary significance for the National Ballet of China in its history of about 60 years.
In 1876, Tchaikovsky composed music for the immortal ballet Swan Lake. In 1895, Swan Lake, co-choreographed by Petipa and Ivanov, was successfully premiered by the Imperial Russian Ballet of Mariinsky Theatre in St. Petersburg, Russia. Since then, the ballet has been recognized as a classic masterpiece of the Russian school and performed by major global ballet ensembles or taken as their model.
In early 1958, Swan Lake was rehearsed at Beijing Dance Academy under the guidance of former Soviet expert Pyotr Gusev, and this was the first time for the Chinese people to rehearse this classical ballet. In June of the same year, Swan Lake made its debut on the Chinese stage and achieved success.
Over the past 60 years, Swan Lake has played a positive role in promoting the considerable development of the National Ballet of China. In 1996 and 2003, the artists at the National Ballet of China started a bold exploration and produced two new versions of Swan Lake, which attracted much attention.
In 2007, the National Ballet of China rehearsed the global master ballet dancer Natalia Makarova’s Swan Lake, which is adapted from the original work composed by Petipa and Ivanov and some paragraphs in the version created by Sir Ashton, Choreographer of the Royal Ballet. It is one of the most popular versions of Swan Lake in the international ballet circle.
From the birth of the first “White Swan” to the later generations’ inheritance of the generation, from the version premiered in 1958 to “Granny Makarova’s” exquisite version staged in 2007…Several generations of Chinese ballet artists have made painstaking and intellectual efforts for the continuous development, expansion and innovation of ballet in China.
Production: National Ballet of China
Chief Planner/Producer: ZHAO Ruheng
Music: Peter Ilyich Tchaikovsky
Conceiver & Director: Natalia Makarova
Choreographer: Natalia Makarova (based on the original work composed by Petipa and Ivanov)
Choreographers of the Rest Paragraphs: Natalia Makarova, Sir Frederick Ashton
Set Designer: Peter Farmer
Costume Designer: Gorina Sorovyeva
Lighting Designer: HAN Jiang
Foreign Chief Rehearsal Leader: Olga Evelynoff
Chinese Chief Rehearsal Leader: ZHU Yan, XU Gang
Répétiteurs: ZHANG Jian, YU Bo, WANG Qimin, WANG Hao, WANG Qi, LI Jun, LU Na, YU Guohua, CHEN Li’e, LIU Qi, YU Yang, WANG Ye
Production Coordinator: Dina Makarov
World Premiere: By the Bolshoi Ballet at the Bolshoi Theatre on March 4th, 1877
Chinese Premiere: Beijing Tianqiao Theatre on June 30th, 1958
Premiere of Natalia Makarova's Version: Beijing Tianqiao Theatre on April 30th
Performed by National Ballet of China
Artistic Director: FENG Ying
Accompanied by National Ballet of China Orchestra
Conductor: ZHANG Yi
Chorus Master: WANG Xiaomao
Stage Art: Stage Art Department, National Ballet of China
Odette: FANG Mengying/ ZHAO Xinyue
Odile: FANG Mengying/ ZHAO Xinyue
Siegfried: CHEN Zhuming/ GUAN Chongzheng
Prince's Friend Benno: SUN Pengxiang/ YAN Hualong/ LU Chenqi
Two Female Friends: TONG Jiayi/ HAO Jiaxuan/ LIU Xinwei/ ZHOU Yue
Four Little Swans: LI Mengfei/ LIU Yichen/ ZHANG Zifu/ WANG Yi/ ZHOU Yue
Three Swans: TONG Jiayi/ WANG Yufei/ HAO Jiaxuan/ NING Long/ PEI Yimeng/ LIU Xinwei
Rothbart: YANG Zhi/ WU Ziheng
The Queen: YU Yang
The cast is subject to the performance.
Preparations are underway to celebrate the birthday of Prince Siegfried. The palace courtyard is being decorated for the occasion with garlands under the watchful eye of the Prince's tutor. He announces Prince Siegfried's arrival and the entertainment begins. In the midst of the celebration, the Queen arrives to give her son a magnificent crossbow for his birthday. Taking him aside, she tells him that he has now come of age and must consider marriage. The Queen departs and the celebrations continue.
Late in the afternoon, Siegfried is left alone with his thoughts. He sees a flock of swans flying overhead and, armed with his new crossbow, he sets out to hunt them at the lake.
The sorcerer Rothbart emerges from the mysterious waters of the lake to survey his domain. He sees Siegfried approaching and disappears into the forest. Searching for the flock of swans, the Prince arrives at the lakeside. Odette, Queen of the Swans, appears and captivates Siegfried with her beauty. Rothbart reappears and Odette flees from the lakeside with Siegfried chasing her into the night. Summoning all his powers, Rothbart commands every swan to the lake. The lakeside is suddenly filled with swan maidens, girls like Odette who have been transformed into swans by the evil sorcerer. Siegfried returns to the lake still searching for Odette. Upon finding her he swears undying love and promises that he will be faithful to her for the rest of his life. Rothbart returns and steals the Swan Queen, Odette, from the Prince's embrace leaving Siegfried alone and desolate by the waters of the lake.
A formal celebration is taking place in honour of Prince Siegfried's birthday. Guests arrive from many countries to join in the festivities. The Queen presents her son with six princesses and commands him to select a bride from among them, but he remains preoccupied and aloof because he intends to marry Odette.
With a flourish of trumpets, Rothbart arrives with his daughter Odile in cunning disguise as the Swan Queen. Believing she is Odette, Siegfried is entranced and Odile leaves the Great Hall with him in pursuit. After a display of national dances, Odile and Siegfried return to the hall and dance together. Persuaded by the wicked Odile, Siegfried believes that she is his true love. He fails to see the real Odette outside the palace pleading with him to remain faithful to her. Siegfried swears undying love to Odile thus breaking the pledge that he has made to Odette. Rothbart is jubilant and summons Odette to show Siegfried that he has betrayed her for his daughter Odile. Rothbart and Odile leave the Great Hall in triumph. In desperation, Siegfried flees to find Odette and beg for forgiveness, leaving the Queen and the court in chaos and despair.
Realising that she has been betrayed, Odette returns to the swans at the lake's edge. Siegfried arrives to beg for Odette's forgiveness, which she eventually grants. Rothbart appears and reminds Siegfried of his earlier promise to Odile. A fight ensues. Odette decides that she cannot continue and throws herself into the lake. Siegfried follows and they are both drowned but Rothbart and his evil spell are destroyed by the power of Siegfried and Odette's love.
As the dawn of a new day rises, Siegfried and Odette are united in eternal love.