Swan Lake

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Synopsis

Act I
Siegfried’s birthday party in the castle garden To celebrate Siegfried’s eighteenth birthday, Alexander and the courtiers and neighbours have organized a surprise party for him in the garden of the castle. The Prince’s tutor Von Rasposen is irritated by Siegfried and Alexander’s friendly relationship with the local peasants. The festivities are interrupted by the arrival of the Queen, the Prince’s mother. She presents her son with a ring reminding him of his future role as successor to the throne: he will soon have to choose a bride. Siegfried is downcast at the prospect of his youth drawing to a close. As darkness falls he and Alexander ponder on the future. They decide to explore the surrounding forest.

Act II
The meeting with Odette Lost in the forest, Siegfried and Alexander arrive at the banks of a great lake. A huge circling bird of prey fills them with fear: it is as if the form of Von Rasposen is still spying on them. The bird of prey – in fact the wicked magician Von Rothbart – summons a swan out of the dark lake, which takes on human form. In Odette, the Swan Queen, and her retinue of swan maidens, Siegfried believes he has found the realization of his ideal of sincerity and simplicity. Surrounded by these pure shapes he is overcome with joy. He swears to remain forever true to his ideals.

Act III
The betrayal During a ball at the castle several brides-in-waiting are presented to Siegfried. But to the amazement of the guests, and to his mother’s alarm, Siegfried refuses to make a choice; all the pomp and splendour contrast starkly with the purity of the vision experienced at the lakeside. Von Rasposen announces the last guests: Von Rothbart, his daughter Odile and their retinue. Siegfried imagines that the Black Swan, Odile, is a manifestation of the White Swan Queen, Odette, but still he wavers. Von Rothbart and Odile blind him with a sensual display of dazzling virtuosity. To Alexander’s dismay Siegfried yields and offers Odile the ring. Too late he realizes that he has betrayed his ideal, Odette. Stricken, he flees back to the lake in despair.

Act IV
The reconciliation with Odette Disillusioned and betrayed, Odette and the swan maidens tarry by the moonlit lakeside, where Siegfried finds them. Odette forgives Siegfried and attempts to comfort him, telling him that he must learn to live with reality. Von Rothbart tries to drive Siegfried away from the lake, but although Siegfried manages to defy him, he drowns in the waters. Von Rasposen abandons his futile search for the Prince, while Alexander discovers the lifeless body of his friend. In Alexander, Siegfried’s ideals will live on.

Program and cast

Conductor
David Coleman
Odette /Odile
Tatiana Melnik
Aliya Tanykpayeva
Ellina Pokhodnykh
Siegfried
Gergely Leblanc
Dmitry Timofeev
Gergő Ármin Balázsi
Rothbart
Mikalai Radziush
Takaaki Okajima
Vladyslav Melnyk
Iurii Kekalo
Alexander
Gaetano Cottonaro
András Rónai
Valerio Palumbo

Hungarian State Opera

The Opera House is not only one of the most significant art relic of Budapest, but the symbol of the Hungarian operatic tradition of more than three hundred years as well. The long-awaited moment in Hungarian opera life arrived on September 27, 1884, when, in the presence of Franz Joseph I. the Opera House was opened amid great pomp and ceremony. The event, however, erupted into a small scandal - the curious crowd broke into the entrance hall and overran the security guards in order to catch a glimpse of the splendid Palace on Sugar út. Designed by Mikós Ybl, a major figure of 19th century Hungarian architecture, the construction lived up to the highest expectations. Ornamentation included paintings and sculptures by leading figures of Hungarian art of the time: Károly Lotz, Bertalan Székely, Mór Than and Alajos Stróbl. The great bronze chandelier from Mainz and the stage machinery moda by the Asphaleia company of Vienna were both considered as cutting-edge technology at that time.

 

Many important artists were guests here including Gustav Mahler, the composer who was director in Budapest from 1887 to 1891. He founded the international prestige of the institution, performing Wagner operas as well as Magcagni’ Cavalleria Rusticana. The Hungarian State Opera has always maintained high professional standards, inviting international stars like Renée Fleming, Cecilia Bartoli, Monserrat Caballé, Placido Domingo, Luciano Pavarotti, José Cura, Thomas Hampson and Juan Diego Flórez to perform on its stage. The Hungarian cast include outstanding and renowed artists like Éva Marton, Ilona Tokody, Andrea Rost, Dénes Gulyás, Attila Fekete and Gábor Bretz.

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