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Siegfried's vow


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#1 Rosa

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Posted 21 May 2008 - 09:23 AM

I was recently thinking about Siegfried's vow in Swan Lake. Why does he not break the curse in Act II when he swears twice to love Odette, yet it works at the wrong time in Act III? In most productions I've seen on video/DVD, the dancer playing Siegfried just raises his hand in the vow in Act II and Act III (with Rothbart simply demanding that he swear to love Odile forever). In one or two other versions Siegfried specifically mimes in both acts, "I love you/her. I will marry you/her. I swear!" So I guess I am confused why the vow does not work the first time if Siegfried does the same thing at the lake and the ball. :)

Any thoughts?

#2 87Sigfried87

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Posted 21 May 2008 - 02:25 PM

I was recently thinking about Siegfried's vow in Swan Lake. Why does he not break the curse in Act II when he swears twice to love Odette, yet it works at the wrong time in Act III? In most productions I've seen on video/DVD, the dancer playing Siegfried just raises his hand in the vow in Act II and Act III (with Rothbart simply demanding that he swear to love Odile forever). In one or two other versions Siegfried specifically mimes in both acts, "I love you/her. I will marry you/her. I swear!" So I guess I am confused why the vow does not work the first time if Siegfried does the same thing at the lake and the ball. :)

Any thoughts?


Swan Lake is a very strange ballet.....I also wonder how can Siegfried fall in love with a bird(the Swan) and take him to a party to introduce she/it to his mother:"Mum that's my new girlfr....ehm....bird.Can I marry her?"....hahahahah!!!!and then,if at night Odette gets back to being a woman,why does she dance and behave as a Swan in the second act,when she is supposed to meet her prince as a woman ?i don't think there is any aswer to these questions...

#3 Mel Johnson

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Posted 21 May 2008 - 03:49 PM

Remember that she's incompletely transformed into a woman in Act II. She still has swanny characteristics. And also remember that contracting to do the same indivisible thing for two different parties is a real contract-breaker, even in real life.

Try this:

http://www.balletale...e/storytell.htm

#4 carbro

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Posted 21 May 2008 - 04:23 PM

Siggie actually observes the transformation, though, doesn't he? First he spots the swan in flight and takes aim with his crossbow. Then, this weird thing happens, and he lets down the bow, and YIKES!!! He runs off as he sees her approaching. So he knows she's not a normal woman or a normal swan. But I was never under the impression that this guy was the sharpest of princes.

#5 Mel Johnson

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Posted 21 May 2008 - 05:43 PM

He never gives me the impression that he's about to make a fortune in North Sea oil futures. And then there's luck. If it were raining soup, he'd have a fork!

#6 Sacto1654

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Posted 21 May 2008 - 07:03 PM

Swan Lake is a very strange ballet.....I also wonder how can Siegfried fall in love with a bird(the Swan) and take him to a party to introduce she/it to his mother:"Mum that's my new girlfr....ehm....bird.Can I marry her?"....hahahahah!!!!and then,if at night Odette gets back to being a woman,why does she dance and behave as a Swan in the second act,when she is supposed to meet her prince as a woman ?i don't think there is any aswer to these questions...


A major issue with Swan Lake is the multiple major versions of the same ballet, which I think can confuse even serious ballet fans to no end. I mean, there are four major versions that came out of Russia: the original Reisinger 1877 version, the Petipa/Ivanov 1895 version, the Vaganova 1933 "modernist" version, and the Burmeister 1956 version that more emphasized Siegfried's story. Today, the versions I've seen done by the Mariinsky Ballet and the Bolshoi Ballet in the last 20 years are actually (more or less) a hybrid of the 1877 and 1895 versions. As such, it's very difficult to answer the question is just what are the various "right" elements of the ballet. :dunno: It's almost like trying to answer what is the right "improvised" second movement of Bach's Brandenburg Concerto No. 3.

This isn't like the later Tchaikovsky ballets Sleeping Beauty and Nutcracker, where there are "definite" original versions based on the collaboration between Petipa and Tchaikovsky.

#7 Amy Reusch

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Posted 21 May 2008 - 07:36 PM

Did the Reisinger ever leave Russia before the Ivanov/Petipa version made waves in the West?

#8 Premierdanseur

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Posted 21 May 2008 - 11:39 PM

And thats when Nureyev's version of the ballet comes i and makes everything logical. Since no normal guy whould fall for a bird (at least I hope not) :dunno: ..??....He made the story take place in Siegfried's head, as a long day dream.
The first act is as usual, but instead of going of hunting, Siegfried takes refuges in his own dreams, you know he's been brought up with to many romantic novels....! Odette and Odile are just "metafors" for his own ideals,....I guess???
and when he betrays the in his mind, he loses his reason......
thats one way to look at the story, Otherwise I guess you'll just have to go with the guy likes birds.... :P

#9 Mel Johnson

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Posted 21 May 2008 - 11:47 PM

The ballet that asks the perennial question, "Can the Prince next door find true happiness with part-time poultry?"

The Reisinger version does not come down to us in any meaningful way today, and neither does an intermediary version before Petipa by Joseph Hansen. It was presented at Prague. Hansen also staged an Act II for the Bolshoi in 1888.

#10 87Sigfried87

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Posted 22 May 2008 - 12:47 AM

Remember that she's incompletely transformed into a woman in Act II. She still has swanny characteristics. And also remember that contracting to do the same indivisible thing for two different parties is a real contract-breaker, even in real life.

Try this:

http://www.balletale...e/storytell.htm


Noooo.....:dunno: if I think that she's not human and not Swan....then she's a monster!:P:(:(...she's half bird and half woman....then she's a mermaid?yes,the first type of mermaid(from the chronological point of view),the one who is half bird and half woman....poor prince:(.
The only thing which could make sense is that being all day a Swan,when she turns into a woman at night she still has the moves and the behaviour of a Swan,because she is used to behave so during the day;but her body is completely the one of a woman.
Or the prince likes birds and fall in love with one of them,named Odette:D.There could be a psychological interpretation of this,too....

#11 Mel Johnson

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Posted 22 May 2008 - 02:53 AM

Remember that this is a ballet about a woman under enchantment. In the classical rules for enchantment, normal natural law and rules are defied. (see Fraser, The Golden Bough) And further, if a ballet comes from before Freud was a common reference, no Freud when you stage it!

#12 bart

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Posted 22 May 2008 - 04:23 AM

Remember that this is a ballet about a woman under enchantment. In the classical rules for enchantment, normal natural law and rules are defied.

Absolutely. Though it can be fun to play with plot-lines and possible alternative interpetations in old works, it can also be dangerous to do so too literally.

{I}f a ballet comes from before Freud was a common reference, no Freud when you stage it!

Mel, would you apply this rule to productions of theater classics (the ancient Greeks, Shakespeare, etc.) and operas (Medee or Don Giovanni, for example), as well?

#13 rg

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Posted 22 May 2008 - 04:56 AM

on the third(?) 'page' of another thread in this sub-forum entitled: 'Why is von rothbart turning maidens into swans' there is a scan of an engraving from 1877 Russia of the 'scene' showing the transformation of the swans espied on the lake by Siegfried entering the lake shore as women. (this same illustration is in Wiley.) if every 'traditional' production of SWAN LAKE included 'mechanical' swans gliding on the lake before the entrance of odette and here sisterhood of swanmaidens in their human form, the confusion of the ballerina and the female corps de ballet w/ literal swans would be less prevelant.
McKenzie's much maligned version fully understands this key difference when he shows a swan in rothbart's arms after the bewitchment scene staged to the score's overture for his production's Prologue.
in sum Siegfried falls in love w/ Princess Odette, not a bird.

#14 carbro

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Posted 22 May 2008 - 11:46 AM

Here's a direct link to the post with that illustration.

#15 Mel Johnson

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Posted 22 May 2008 - 01:13 PM

{I}f a ballet comes from before Freud was a common reference, no Freud when you stage it!

Mel, would you apply this rule to productions of theater classics (the ancient Greeks, Shakespeare, etc.) and operas (Medee or Don Giovanni, for example), as well?


If you change a text, you risk violating the artistic integrity of a work. For drama, I wouldn't want to see the production of Oedipus Rex that cut in a few riffs from Eugene O'Neill, say. I wouldn't care for an opera that took a break from the composer's music to interpolate something from outside. If it's for satire, maybe then, OK, as in a production of Barber of Seville I once saw that had Rosina's music lesson begin with "Fascinatin' Rhythm" until Bartolo "objected". Then back to more traditional airs. Because the blocking and choreographic content of a ballet are the text, I don't care for changes which fiddle around with that. Whether it's to give a male dancer "more to do" or a ballerina to do whatever, when you change text, you run into danger. I get to grouse here again about the most revolutionary thing a ballet company could do today is to mount an Old, Unimproved four-act Swan Lake. Audiences today don't get some of the choreographic horseplay that goes on in many productions today because they've never seen the "plain-vanilla" version.


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