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Ballet Talk for Dancers
Myfairlady

Ballets: Swan Lake

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Myfairlady

I saw Swan Lake a couple of nights ago performed by the St. Petersburg Ballet, and they both lived happily ever after. I always thought Swan Lake was a tragedy, and the only video I have I think has at least Odette dying in the end, and the story book that I have has them both throwing themselves off the rocks and dying, but also breaking the spell for the rest of the swans, who go free. In the version I saw on Thursday, Prince Siegfried fights and defeats Rothbart at the very end and that breaks the spell and everyone lives happily ever after. Has anyone ever seen or heard this kind of happy ending?

The rest of the ballet was exactly like what I expected it to be, and it was very beautiful, by the way. I loved the dancing.

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SweetPetite1

I have seen it performed this way...not sure what the history behind the different versions is, but when my dd's school performs Swan Lake, it is exactly as you described.

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beckyb

That sounds more like "The Swan Princess", one of DD's favorite animated videos from childhood!

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Hans

As far as I know, the Soviet government made companies change the ending to the "happier" one (although 19C viewers of the original would have seen it as happy--Odette and Siegfried together for eternity) during the Cold War. It was performed that way for so long that now it is an established tradition, although I do prefer the original ending.

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Marga

It was indeed a politically influenced change. The idea was to show the people that everything turns out beautifully under Communist rule. :yucky: To my knowledge, the Kirov did not make this change, but the Bolshoi certainly did.

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Mel Johnson

Although, having Siegfried rip von Rothbart's wing off and he dies is, I think, preferable to "Siegfried and Odette exit up left and return on bulldozer, squashing von Rothbart, and liberating Swan Maidens to become Labor Brigade to turn lake into Glorious Soviet Canal System!" :yucky:

 

But yes, the Kirov did change, too. Central Planning, you know.

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Marga

Thanks, Mel, for responding. I wasn't sure, anymore (sorry if I led anyone astray!), after all the ensuing back and forth with the ending, which continues to this day. I kinda like your vision, but I would have it mean that a clean slate is created by the 'dozer, leaving behind all the madness, murder, and mayhem. Something was just whispering in my brain about the Kirov remaining "pure" (although I couldn't reconcile that with knowing what it meant to go against orders...).

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Mel Johnson

And remember who the Kirov was renamed for: Sergei Kirov, who was the Leningrad District Party Chairman who was more popular than Stalin. That could be hazardous to your health in 1934, when he was murdered.

 

It used to be the Kirov's brag that they were presenting "Pure Petipa". Now increased general knowledge and scholarship into Russian ballet history has made this claim impossible anymore, except for the direct-from-notation versions of Sleeping Beauty and La Bayadere, which, it turns out are not as popular as the fiddled-with versions they were supposed to replace.

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jimpickles

Though I'd always thought, as Mel Jonson said, that the happy ending was Soviet-imposed, I read somewhere recently (I cant find the reference though) that it was in fact one of the Tsars who didn't like the unhappy ending and insisted on it being changed. Does anyone know if this is true?

 

Thanks,

 

Jim.

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Mel Johnson

No, it's not. Remember, the ballet was premiered in Moscow, and the Tsars didn't spend anymuch time in Moscow.

 

Here's another part from Ballet Alert! on the standard production:

 

http://www.balletalert.com/ballets/Petipa/...Lake/SLProd.htm

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jimpickles

Thank you!

 

Jim.

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Claude_Catastrophique

I have seen all kinds of versions. In Vienna, the prince sank at the end in the lake and the Swans flew away. They said it would be "Nureyews Version". Well...

Another version I saw was that the prince and Odette just kind of faded away. No death but also no living happily together. This was kind of unsatisfying.

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Mel Johnson

Yes, Nureyev's versions tend to be that way, and Erik Bruhn's for the National Ballet of Canada had Siegfried pecked to death by the Swans - what a way to go - nibbled to death by waterfowl!

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Sarabande

Wow! Never heard of that one!

 

Honestly, I prefer the traditional ending with Odette and Siegfried committing suicide. Why ruin one of the world's greatest ballets just to make a political statement?

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