Though Swan Lake is a fairytale, our story takes place at the Russian Imperial Court in the last years of Pyotr Tchaikovsky’s life, inspiring itself from real events. The russian Tsar Alexander III initially wanted to distract his son Nicholas from his first love for Princess Alix of Hesse by introducing him to the young ballerina Mathilde Kschessinska. This dangerous game played with the emotions of the sensitive tsarevich, which led to unexpected results. Nicholas did indeed fall in love with Mathilde in earnest and, in moments of passion, even declared he would be ready to renounce the throne for her. Fortunately for the House of Romanov, the crown prince’s common sense and love for Princess Alix won.
This famed historical episode became legendary, recurring in literature, theatre, film, and operettas. The legend was also fuelled by Mathilde Kschessinska herself, who lived to be almost a hundred in France as an immigrant after the revolution. I have returned to that story in my version of Swan Lake for its similarity to Tchaikovsky’s famous fairytale ballet. Therefore, in this production, Prince Siegfried turns into Tsarevich Nicholas, Odette into his beloved Princess Alix and Odile becomes Mathilde Kschessinska – one of the most famous ballet stars of all time.
Even with the revised libretto and changed choreography, the production still includes the most valuable dancing sequences by Lev Ivanov (the White Act) and Marius Petipa (Black Swan Pas de Deux) and I hope such a version of this popular ballet will be interesting for Canadian audiences. We wish you all a pleasant evening.