PITTSBURGH, PA – Ranked among the most iconic classical ballets of all time, Pittsburgh Ballet Theatre presents the mesmerizing love story of “Swan Lake” with the Pittsburgh Ballet Theatre Orchestra over Valentine’s Day weekend, Feb. 13-16, at the Benedum Center.
“Swan Lake” symbolizes more than 100 years of tradition and some of the most revered roles in classical ballet. In a performance of emotional intensity and technical mastery, the ballerina portrays both eternal love and deception in the coveted dual role of the Swan Queen, Odette, and her dark twin, Odile. Since its 1877 premiere at the Bolshoi Theatre in Moscow, ballet companies all over the world have developed their own interpretations of the traditionally four-act ballet and its dramatic ending. PBT’s version of “Swan Lake” is staged by Artistic Director Terrence S. Orr after original choreography by Marius Petipa and Lev Ivanov. The ballet is set to one of Tchaikovsky’s most memorable masterworks – and his first original ballet composition – featuring the evocative Swan theme.
“Swan Lake” tells the story of a young village girl trapped in a curse by the evil sorcerer Von Rothbart. Bound by day as the Queen of the Swans, she returns to her human form only after nightfall, when she first encounters Prince Siegfried near the enchanted lake during a hunting expedition. Prince Siegfried soon falls in love with the beautiful Odette, but can only set her free by pledging his eternal love and fidelity. In order to thwart the lovers, Von Rothbart transforms his daughter Odile into the dark double of Odette to deceive Prince Siegfried at the royal ball. Performed by the same dancer, the character of Odette/Odile demands great technical and emotional range to morph from the pureness and fragility of Odette to the darkness and deception of Odile.
Ranging from the ornamentation of the court to the lyricism of the Swan scenes, the choreography of “Swan Lake” especially showcases the technical prowess of the ballerina through virtuosity of the Swan Queen, the intricate variations of the Cygnets and the lyrical unification of the corps de ballet. “Swan Lake” features its own signature movement vocabulary, such as the undulating port de bras of the White Swan and the Black Swan’s famous 32 fouettés – consecutive quick turns considered to be one of the highest feats of virtuosity, stamina and strength demanded of a ballerina. The expressive choreography of the Swan Scenes sets one of ballet’s highest standards for the corps de ballet, which moves as one entity with lyrical movements that create images of a swan’s wings, necks and mannerisms.
Danced in four acts, “Swan Lake” alternates between the lavish scenery of The Great Palace and the moonlit Swan Scenes near the enchanted lake. The costumes also vary from the elaborate robes and gowns of the courtesans to the ethereal aura of the swans, which are set apart with pure white, feather-trimmed classical tutus. Created after designs by Peter Farmer, PBT’s “Swan Lake” costumes were built in the PBT Costume Shop under the direction of Costumier Janet Groom Campbell, who celebrates her 40th anniversary with PBT this season.
Tickets start at $25.75, and can be purchased online at www.pbt.org, by calling 412-456-6666 or visiting the Box Office at Theater Square.