Ballet in two acts
Libretto by V.P. Begicheva and W.F. Geltser
Odette, the Queen of the Swans
Odile, Odette’s double, daughter of the evil genius Rothbart
The Princess Mother, Siegfried’s mother
Tutor to the Prince
Rothbart, the evil genius
Friends to the Prince
Brides of the Prince
Little Swans (Four Swans)
Big Swans (Three Swans)
A garden in front of the Princess Mother’s castle. Young people are celebrating on the lawn.
The princess tells her son Siegfried that tomorrow he is to choose a bride among the girls invited to the ball. Siegfried is upset; no girl has yet found a place in his heart.
Night falls. Siegfried does not wish to give up his carefree life, but at the same time, he dreams of a girl he could truly love. But where is that girl? Siegfried is not interested in his friends’ conversations. A flock of flying swans catch his attention. Siegfried follows them.
The swans lead Siegfried into the middle of a wild forest, to a dark lake, and the ruins of an empty castle. The swans dance in a circle on the shore of the lake. Siegfried is spellbound by the sight of a beautiful white swan, which suddenly turns into a girl. She tells him of the evil spell that binds her and her companions: the evil genius Rothbart has turned them into swans, and only at night and near these ruins they can turn back into their human shape. Touched by Odette’s rueful story, Siegfried wants to kill the evil sorcerer. Odette sadly tells him that it will not break the spell. It can only be broken by the whole-hearted love of a young man who has never vowed his love to anyone else. Siegfried, who has fallen in love, swears his eternal fidelity to Odette.
The evil genius that lives in the ruins of the castle eavesdrops on their conversation. Morning comes. The girls turn into swans. Siegfried is sure that the power of his love will free Odette from the evil sorcerer’s power.
A ceremonial ball. The guests are gathering at the castle. Six girls appear – Siegfried must choose one of them to be his bride. But his mind is preoccupied with memories of the beautiful Odette. Suddenly, an unfamiliar guest arrives – it is the evil genius Rothbart. He has brought his daughter Odile, who bears a striking resemblance to Odette. Rothbart orders her to charm Siegfried and to extort a confession of love out him.
The prince, mistaking Odile for Odette, announces his decision to marry her to his mother. The sorcerer is triumphant. The vow is broken and now Odette and her companions shall perish. With an evil laugh he points out Odette, who has appeared from afar, and taking Odile with him, vanishes. Siegfried realizes that he has been tricked, and full of despair, he hurries to the Swan Lake.
A deep troubled gloom overhangs the shore of the Swan Lake. Stunned by grief, Odette tells her companions of Siegfried’s betrayal. Their hope for freedom is lost.
Siegfried runs in – he didn’t break his vow, he still loves Odette.
The evil genius is enraged. He summons up the elements to interfere with the lovers. A thunderous storm begins. But nothing can crush the young and pure love. Rothbart fights the Prince and dies. His spells are broken. The happy Odette and Siegfried greet the first rays of the rising sun.