NEW DATES: June 23 - July 1, 2018
NEW VENUE: Jones Hall
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View Performance Program (Coming Soon!)
Houston Ballet presents the return of Swan Lake by Artistic Director Stanton Welch AM in Spring 2018. In this production, the everlasting love between Prince Siegfried and the maiden-turned-white-swan Odette is tested by the evil knight Rothbart and his black swan enchantress, Odile. Stanton Welch’s Swan Lake utilizes Tchaikovsky’s full score as arranged for this three-act production. In his staging, Mr. Welch imbues the main characters with greater psychological complexity, and gives the work a twenty-first century pace. Mr. Welch, who collaborated with Mr. Fredrikson on Swan Lake, was inspired by John William Waterhouse’s painting, The Lady of Shalott (1888). Waterhouse (1849-1917) was a British Neo-Classical and Pre-Raphaelite painter well-known for works featuring female characters from mythology and literature. The painting, which is based on Lord Alfred Tennyson’s poem by the same title, depicts a tragic maiden afloat on a lake. Mr. Welch commented, “When I saw this painting I said, ‘This is our Odette.’ Here is a woman, a young heroine, lost in a forest by a lake, touched by tragedy.”
Odette/Odile, Rothbart, Prince Siegfried, The Queen
Scene I: Deep in the Heart of a Dark Wood
Odette, a young maiden, is in the forest. The evil knight Rothbart appears and captures her, turning her into a white swan. She is cursed to remain a swan during the day, and a maiden at night.
Scene II: A Royal Hunt at the Edge of the Wilderness
Later, the young Prince Siegfried and his entourage arrive in the forest and set up camp, celebrating the day’s hunt. The Queen calls her son aside and reminds him that tomorrow is an important day. She introduces him to four eligible young princesses, but he is distant and uninterested. The Queen sternly warns him that this is the last night of his youth and that he must soon take on the responsibility of adulthood. Upset, Siegfried decides to leave the camp and venture out into the woods alone.
Scene III: In the Forest
Deep in the forest that evening along the edge of the lake, Siegfried sees a young maiden. She is beautiful, and he falls instantly in love. However, she is terrified, and begs him to leave, to no avail. Charmed by his bravery, Odette finds herself falling in love with him. As the sun begins to rise, the evil knight Rothbart summons Odette. She goes to him and is transformed into a swan and flies away. Soon thereafter, a large flock of swans lands on the lake. Siegfried’s friend and some hunters from the royal party see the flock and prepare to shoot, but the Prince intervenes and orders them to leave. Siegfried notices that one of the swans is Odette and he professes his love to her.
The Ballroom of the Castle
The next night, the Queen hosts a ball and presents eligible princesses to her son, but the Prince pays little attention. Suddenly, Rothbart and a maiden dressed in black arrive. It is Odile. She is the mirror image of Odette. The Prince is smitten with the mysterious woman in black and begs his mother to consider the new arrival. Siegfried and Odile dance and he proclaims his love for her. The Prince tells his mother that he wants to marry Odile. Just then, Siegfried sees Odette in the crowd. She is horrified by the betrayal and runs out. The Prince runs to Odile and realizes that she is one of Rothbart’s swans and that he has been fooled. The devastated Prince chases Rothbart as he flees the court.
By the Lake in the Forest
The Prince arrives at the edge of the lake in the forest and begs the distraught Odette for forgiveness. The sun comes up and the maidens turn back into swans in the morning mist. Before long, Rothbart and his black swans appear and he summons all of the swans, including Odette. The Prince, desperate to be with his love, grabs his crossbow to kill Rothbart. The Prince shoots, but his arrow hits Odette instead. Rothbart holds Odette in his arms but when she falls, she is a maiden. The spell Rothbart cast on Odette is broken, and the Prince runs to her. Odette, as a woman, dies in the Prince’s arms. He picks up her body and walks into the lake, drowning himself. Young maidens appear from the forest, forever changed.
ARTISTIC DIRECTOR STANTON WELCH’S SWAN LAKE . . . IS A FRESH READ ON THE CLASSIC STORY . . . THIS IS AN EMOTIONALLY RICH, VISUALLY STUNNING, UPLIFTING PRODUCTION.
DANCE TALK: Inspired by a Score - Tuesday, June 12 at 7:00 p.m.
In celebration of Stanton Welch’s production of Swan Lake, we will explore Pyotyr Ilyich Tchaikovsky: his life, ballets, and the radically different choreographic interpretations of the Swan Lake score.
Houston Ballet’s performances of Swan Lake generously sponsored by:
In July 2003, Australian choreographer Stanton Welch AM assumed leadership of Houston Ballet. Since then, the company has grown to 60 dancers, making it America’s fifth largest classical ballet company. Mr. Welch has revitalized Houston Ballet by raising the level of the company’s classical technique and commissioning new works from the world’s best dance makers. The company has made numerous appearances in the US and internationally including London, Germany, Spain, Montreal, Ottawa, Paris, Australia, New York, Los Angeles, Chicago and Washington, D.C. Mr. Welch has created works for some of the world’s most prestigious companies such as San Francisco Ballet, American Ballet Theatre, The Australian Ballet, Birmingham Royal Ballet and The Royal Danish Ballet. He has choreographed more than twenty works for Houston Ballet including the full-length narrative ballet Marie (2009), Romeo and Juliet (2015), Giselle (2016), The Nutcracker (2016) as well as spectacular stagings of Swan Lake (2006), La Bayadère (2010). Under his leadership, the Houston Ballet Academy teaches over one thousand students every year, and approximately 50% of the current company was trained by the Academy.
Composer Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky was born on May 7, 1840, in Vyatka, Russia. His work was first publicly performed in 1865. In 1868, his First Symphony was well-received. In 1874, he established himself with Piano Concerto No.1 in B-flat Minor. Tchaikovsky resigned from the Moscow Conservatory in 1878, and spent the rest of his career composing yet more prolifically. He died in St. Petersburg on November 6, 1893. Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky is widely considered the most popular Russian composer in history. His work includes the The Sleeping Beauty and The Nutcracker. He once said, “Inspiration is a guest that does not willingly visit the lazy.”
SWAN LAKE REPERTOIRE HISTORY
This will be Houston Ballet’s fourth time performing Stanton Welch’s Swan Lake as part of its main season. Selections from Stanton Welch’s Swan Lake have been performed at Miller Outdoor Theater and Jubilee of Dance. Houston Ballet’s previous productions of Swan Lake before Stanton Welch’s production were choreographed by Ben Stevenson OBE.
SWAN LAKE PRODUCTION DETAILS
ORIGINAL CHOREOGRAPHER: Marius Petipa with Lev Ivanov
GENRE: Classical Ballet
RUN TIME: Ballet in 3 Acts; approximately 3 hours
COMPOSER: Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky
SCORE: “Swan Lake”
ORIGINAL PREMIERE DATE: January 17, 1895 at the Mariinsky Theatre in St. Petersburg, Russia by the Mariinsky Ballet under Marius Petipa with Lev Ivanov as four-act production
HOUSTON BALLET BEN STEVENSON PRODUCTION PREMIERE DATE: 1977 in Houston, TX with choreography by Ben Stevenson and designs by William Pitkin; later, September 21, 1984 at Jones Hall for the Performing Arts in Houston, Texas with choreography by Ben Stevenson and designs by David Walker
STANTON WELCH PRODUCTION PREMIERE: February 13, 2006 in Brown Theater at the Wortham Theater Center in Houston, Texas
STANTON WELCH PRODUCTION SET & COSTUME DESIGN: Kristian Fredrikson
STANTON WELCH PRODUCTION LIGHTING DESIGN: Lisa J. Pinkham
BALLET MASTER (2018): Barbara Bears
HOUSTON BALLET ORCHESTRA CONDUCTOR (2018): Ermanno Florio; Jonathan McPhee, guest conductor
HOUSTON BALLET STAGE MANAGER (2018): Vanessa Chumbley