Piotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky wrote but three ballets over the course of his career. The first one, Swan Lake, was such a flop at first that the Russian composer almost turned away from that genre for good. Luckily, popular opinion evolved. Nowadays, Swan Lake ranks among the most popular ballets in history with innumerable performances and revivals. At the Monumental Complex Donnaregina in Naples, Opera in Roma joins creative forces with the Almatanz dance company, led by its renowned former first dancer Luigi Martelletta. Relying on his vast experience and creative vision, he offers a revival of Swan Lake that stays true to the traditional ballet form but also adds a lighter and leaner style. A subtle re-imagining of a true classic created by an outstanding composer and previously set by many star choreographers, among them Marius Petipa, Lev Ivanov, William Christensen and Graeme Murphy, Martelletta’s take on Swan Lake is bound to impress.
Tchaikovsky started working on a fairy-tale ballet in 1875. The libretto hailed from Russian and German folklore and told of Odette, a princess suffering under the evil sorcerer Rothbart’s curse to live her days as a swan. In preparation for the task, Tchaikovsky studied the work of famous ballet composers like Léo Delibes or Adolphe Adam and noted the wealth of distinct, memorable melodies and the cunning use of leitmotifs that made their scores special. Their influence can be heard clearly in Swan Lake which is brim-full of expressive, emotional and infectious musical lines. On the wings of his inspiration, Tchaikovsky completed the score within a year.
Swan Lake had its debut at Moscow’s Bolshoi Theatre on 4 March 1877, and the critics were quite harsh to it, especially towards the bland original choreography by Julius Reisinger. Conversely, the score, though occasionally criticised as ‘undanceable’, received mostly positive reviews. Since then, the Petipa-Ivanov revival from 1895 has become the standard. At the Monumental Complex Donnaregina in Naples, Luigi Martelletta stages this classic and adds a bit of his unique modern spin to it, making a modern-classic production of Swan Lake fit for the 21st century.