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Which Act IV Do You Like Best?


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On the ABT Swan Lake July 1-9 thread, FauxPas asked,

What "Swan Lake" 4th acts have you seen that really worked for you? 

I remember really liking the fourth act that Antony Dowell did for the Royal Ballet production that toured to NYC ten years ago. I think someone told me it was staged from the Sergeyev notations and was the original Ivanov choreography.

Someone told me that the best fourth act they ever saw was one that Nureyev did for the Berlin Ballet with Cynthia Gregory as Odette.

Of course then there is the whole question of tragic ending vs. happy ending, does Siegfried die and Odette live?, does Odette jump first or do they jump in the lake together? do Siegfried and Von Rothbart fight it out and the whole ripped off wing writhing on the floor bit or does Von Rothbart just observe? Does Siegfried kill Von Rothbart? Does Von Rothbart kill Siegfried? Do the swans kill Von Rothbart? does Wolfgang come back and kill Von Rothbart? Does Von Rothbart live on stripped of his powers? This act changes the most from production to production.

To return to the ABT Swan Lake July 1-9 performance reviews, please click here.

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Mine is the Royal's from their Boston/DC tour back in 2001. It was a tragic ending, but in the end Siegfried and Odette are gliding along the lake on a swan (or something like that...) ha ha

But, I liked how he kept some of the Ivanov staging and the music interpolations from Drigo. Very pretty.

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I'm with Joseph (I think we're alking about hte same staging, certainly the final image....).

the Royal Ballet's last act is simple, pretty, and moving, to begin with , and it builds from there and becomes sublime.... the corps dances make my heart ache. The RB came through here in 1995 or so with it -- Ashton's last act -- and I liked it a lot.

But in 1971, when Ashton was still in charge of the RB, I saw their Swan Lake and it left me a wreck and made a balletomane out of me -- Sibley and Dowell were the stars, Derek Rencher was von ROthbart, and I've never seen his equal, not even close -- what incredible power he had, he somehow drained all hope out of you, so when the lovers won out in the end, it was incredible.... and the apparition of them gliding across the lake to that never neverland harp music made me feel like he'd redeemed himself, they'd got away with it, they were safe, no-one could touch them now.

It was an adolescent hope, I knew it, but I didn't cherish it any the less for that -- I was about 22 myself, felt hopelessly misunderstood, didn't see any way out of my own crises at that point, but the end of Swan Lake held out hope for me somehow.

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Well, I have to say that I LOVE the ending of Peter Martins' much-maligned version at NYCB. Siegfried has pledged himself to Odette and, despite 3 "warnings" from Rotbart, he also pledges himself to Odile. Since Odette's release is tangent upon finding a man who will be true to her, she is doomed.

Even though Rotbart is defeated, Odette remains a swan and the desperate Siegfried is left alone in his misery at the end. This is far more harrowing than the double "suicide"/redemption ending.

Since I don't believe in miracles, this ending really speaks to me.

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For me, the Kirov’s act 4 is just about perfect right up until Siegfried tears off von Rothbarts wing. Which, if I recall correctly is about 3 minutes before the end. I just love the choreography for the corps, and for Siegfried & Odette. Love the way vonR batters her and tosses her around until she’s so exhausted she can’t even stand anymore, and that’s what motivates S to make one final lunge at vonR. Now, if only O would take that opportunity to get up,run to the cliff & jump off while S fights with vonR it would be the perfect ending (with S following O off the cliff, vonR stripped of his powers and dying and the lovers united forever in heaven...). But since the Kirov is unlikely to see things my way Ashton’s old act 4 circa 69-70 (the one Paul Parish described) or Blair’s act 4 for ABT would do fine.

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I like how Roland John Wiley (in his Tchaikovsky's Ballets) states that the music at the end of Swan Lake describes neither a good nor an evil. Although the earlier B minor music has modulated to B major, the final note of the ballet is a repeated B without a chord attached - neither major nor minor.

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well, that may be what it looks like on paper, but I don't hear it that way --

the major third is a strong enharmonic and will sound unless the minor third is played in most cases...

I know the sound you mean....

the empty octave DOES sound at the end of Prokofiev's Romeo and juliet, that is truly desolate -- but the end of Swan Lake doesn't sound like that....

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I love the Would-Be-Brides music and was not aware it had been used for something other than...the would-be-brides! Can't imagine how that would work??

This is the music that is usually used for the contenders for Siegfried's hand to dance for him at the party. Again, I somewhat apologize for really liking Peter Martins' setting, not just because he keeps the dancing flowing but also it affords a nice "stepping out" opportunity for 6 corps girls (or sometimes soloists). I especially remember Carla Korbes making a lovely impression here, lingering on her balances.

My partner loves the would-be-brides music and likes to sing it around the house.

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the empty octave DOES sound at the end of Prokofiev's Romeo and juliet, that is truly desolate -- but the end of Swan Lake doesn't sound like that....

Maybe the end of Swan Lake is like the end of Ring of the Nibelungen: the best you can hope for is a do-over.

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Although I've never seen it, I'm pretty sure that my favorite Act IV is the one from 1895. :angel_not:

Interesting. On the other side, i would say that my favorite IV Act is the 1877 one with ALL THE T. MUSIC AND NO "VALS BLUETTE" ON IT!!. It also has an extremely elaborated choreography for the corps, with an effective and smoth final transformation of swans into human form during the suicidal-related apotheosis...

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