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"Swan Lake" at Mariinsky

I have come across a YouTube recording of the “Swan Lake”, performed by the Mariinsky Ballet Company.

Judging by the cast members, this is a recent production, conducted by V. Gergiev, Uliana Lopatkina appears as Odette-Odilia, Alexandra Gronskaya – as the Queen, Margaret Soohova was the stage manager. All these names can be found on the Mariinsky’s website.

It was a highly artistic interpretation of the Tchaikovsky’s work. At the start of the Act 3 however, I got rather confused to hear an unfamiliar tunes. They appear in the No. 16 ( dances of swans). The signature was 3/4, with a flute solo.

I found the full score on

In the Act 3 both No.15 and No. 16 are written in 2/4 with piccolo solo.

My guess being that at the Mariinsky performance, the music for the No. 16 was not taken from the Tchaikovsky ballet score.

I would be grateful if someone who is familiar with the tune, played in the Act 3, could share that knowledge with participants of the Forum.

A. Geidelberg
27/08/2012 09:58

I've just listened to Nos. 15 and 16 at the start of Act III, and everything seems as it should be. However, No.16 is the "Danses du corps de ballet et des nains", not  the dances of swans you mentioned. Could you give a timing point on the recording of the section you mean, in case we're talking about different things?

P. Davydov
27/08/2012 17:42

Thank you very much Mr. Davydov for you prompt response to my query.

Not being a musician, it is difficult (virtually unrealistic) for me to compare a piece I am listening to with a written score.

The reason I raised this subject being that after listening to the music of “Swan Lake” many hundred times, I have memorised it a long time ago.

When listening to the YouTube recording of the Mariinsky’s production, I immediately realised that the music at the start of the Act III (No. 16, or the second No. in this Act) was not played in all others productions.

I rely therefore on your advise on whether the music in that part of the Mariinsky production is the same as can be seen in the full score for No.’s 15 & 16. I can accept that all previous productions did somehow divert from the original 1876 score. And in its production, Mariinsky attempted to restore the original Tchaikovsky’s work.

On the same YouTube website I found a recording of the ballet produced at La Scala.

The numbering of the Acts is rather different.. What is the Act III in Mariiinsky, is the Act IV (Quattro) in La Scala..

The La Scala production however follows the familiar path, and the music, played at the start of the Act IV, is different from that used in the Mariinsky production. Because they both can not claim to follow the Tchaikovsky’s  original work, please let me know your professional view on both productions.

A. Geidelberg.
28/08/2012 02:47

At first, Tchaikovsky's "Swan Lake" has not ever been played as the original.

The version of this video's performance is Petipa & Ivanov edition of 1895 after composer's death, re-choreographed by Konstantin Sergeyev in 1950.

Four acts in the original have been arranged to three acts and four scene.

The third act Mr. Geidelberg pointed out is the three acts version.

Beginning of act 3 starts also original #25.

But in this version following number is "Valse Bluette", originally a piano music(op.72-11) from "Eighteen Pieces" by Tchaikovsky.

Riccardo Drigo orchestrated it.

Main theme is performed by a clarinet but a flute or a piccolo.

Best regards,

Kamomeno Iwao
28/08/2012 08:24

I thin Mr Iwao has identified the issue. The music in question is from the original Act IV (after No. 25 in the full score), which was the reason for the confusion.

Brett Langston
28/08/2012 09:18

The Mariinsky “Swan Lake” is considered a choreographic masterpiece but is danced to a travesty or Tchaikovsky’s score. Tchaikovsky had nothing to do with it – he’d been dead two years. His magnificent score dates from 1877 with the addition of one number, the act three Russian dance, for an 1881 revival – both in Moscow not St.Petersburg. The 1895 musical score is the work of Riccardo Drigo who, under the auspices of Mario Petipa and Modest Tchaikovsky, cut, rearranged, transposed, rescored, reharmonised and changed tempo directions, yet having omitted 2,150 bars (36% of the original score)!!!!! he added 3 numbers from the 18 Piano Pieces op.72 vastly inflated by repetitions and scored in a style quite unlike Tchaikovsky.

Fortunately there are several good cd versions of the original. I particularly like the versions by Rozhdestvensky and Sawallisch.

Incidentally, Matthew Bourne’s very effective modern reworking of “Swan Lake” is the only production I know which follows Tchaikovsky’s score for the last act exactly.

Joseph Brand
28/08/2012 23.43

Thanks to you all for sparing your time to contribute to this discussion.

As I felt intuitively this Valse Bluette was an introduced. No., that did not form a part of the original score of the ballet..

I have found a photocopy of the Valse (see a link below). 

In the Mariinsky’s production, this No. looked and sounded as some kind of a concert piece, as it add nothing to the development of the actions and events suggested by the libretto.

I presume this is a reason as to why the Valse does not feature in the majority of contemporary staging of “Swan Lake”.

At least both Bolshoi and La Scala decided not to have the Valse Bluette in their productions.

A. Geidelberg
29/08/2012 07:50

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