In the garden of the castle, there are the guests of the Queen. The folks are having fun. The celebration is animated by the antics and jokes of the clown. He begins his games and then it is followed by the dances of girls and knights. His mother, friends and courtiers, congratulates him.
The Queen, who is concerned about her son’s carefree lifestyle, tells him that he must choose a bride from the eligible princesses who have been invited at the royal ball the following evening when he comes of age. Siegfried is upset because he dreams of a pure, ideal love.
The festivities draw to an end, the guests depart, leaving the prince alone with his thoughts in the gathering dusk. Night falls.
Siegfried wants to be alone, face to face, with his thoughts but he feels the presence of a shadow at his side, it is as if some mysterious force is beckoning to him. His thoughts were interrupted by flight of a flock of swans. He follows it.
He finds himself on the banks of a mysterious lake where he sees mysterious ruins of an ancient palace. In the shimmering patches of moonlight on the water, visions of bewitched swan maidens rise up before him. Siegfried catches sight of Odette, the most beautiful of the maidens. He is spell-bounded, deeply stroked by her beauty. She and the other swans live under the spell of the evil sorcerer Rothbart. Only between midnight and dawn, they are able to regain their human shape.
The Prince Siegfried is decided to fight for her love and for Odette but she prevents him that only a vow of eternal love, expressed by one who is willing to die for her, can relinquish the curse. At long last, he has found his romantic ideal of love. He swears to Odette that he will love her forever and be faithful to her. Odette tells him that she will not appear among people until the spell will not dissipate, otherwise they would attract Rothbart's revenge. Through cunning he would make Siegfried to break his oath causing the death of the swans. While she explains that she can only attend after midnight, Rothbart appears in the guise of an owl and conceals himself in the ruins. But as dawn arrives, the evil spell draws Odette and her companions back to the lake and they are turned into swans again.
The celebration is taking place at the castle of the Queen. Prospective brides-to-be are arriving at the Princess Mother’s castle. The Prince must choose one of them to become his wife.
The dances follow one another - a tumultuous Spanish dance, then a cheerful Neapolitan tarantella, a Polish mazurka and, finally, a Hungarian dance. During a waving and elegant waltz there are presented the girls. But Siegfried can think of nothing but Odette and his date with her. He dances in an offhand way with the well-born maidens. Not one of them can compare to his ideal.
Suddenly, a mysterious knight arrives at the ball accompanied by a ravishingly beautiful young girl and a suite of black swans. It is the Evil Genius and Odile, Odette’s double.
Struck by their resemblance, Siegfried hurries towards Odile. The Evil Genius is testing the Prince’s sentiments. Siegfried is enchanted by the perfidious Odile who manages to disarm him of all his doubts. He dances with her a pas de deux and announces Odile to be his chosen bride.
At this very moment, the throne room is plunged in darkness and a vision of the beautiful Odette appears before the assembled company. Siegfried realizes that he has become a plaything in the hands of Fate. Hoping to atone for his betrayal, he rushes in despair after the receding image of the white swan.
Nighttime. A deep gloom overhangs the lake. Odette brings the tragic news; the Prince has broken his vow of faithfulness to her. Siegfried’s conscience is deeply troubled; he hurries towards Odette begging for her forgiveness. Odette forgives the youth but she is no longer mistress of her own fate.
The Evil Genius summons up a storm which disperses plays havoc with, the heroes of our tale, but the real love wins.
The spell is broken and the remaining swans turn back into humans. The sun embodies their love.
Libretto: Vladimir Berghicev, Vasile Gheltser
Classic Choreography: Marius Petipa and Lev Ivanov
Choreography: Constantin Sergheev (Russia)
Set Designer: Veaceslav Ocunev
Costume Designer: Irina Press, Maestru în Artă
World Premiere: 20 February 1877, at Bolshoy Theatre, Moscow.
Premiere in Chisinau: 20 april 1958, at Moldovan State Theatre of Opera and Ballet.
The premiere of the last version: 30 may 1982, at Moldovan State Academic Opera and Ballet Theatre.
Running time: 2 hours 30 min (two intervals)
balet in four acts by Pyotr Tchaikovsky