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ROYAL OPERA HOUSE | BALLET

Royal Opera House Spring 2012 Music and Ballet

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Contents What’s on Salome

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La Fille du RĂŠgiment

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Romeo and Juliet

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Swan Lake

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Interviews Angela Denoka Marianela Nunez and Thiago Sores

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What’s On: Salome Richard Strauss | Opera in one act

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he stunning and scandalous Salome returns to The Royal Opera for the first revival of a gripping production new last Season. Even after a century, Strauss’s opera still has the power to shock as well as enthrall. This is a dazzling musical showpiece, and for these performances has Angela Denoke in the demanding title role of the young woman obsessed by John the Baptist: if the religious prophet she desired had refused her kiss in life, his severed head will not be able to refuse her lips in death. On stage the story has provoked scandal not least in Oscar Wilde’s play, upon which Strauss based his opera – violence and nudity are inevitably part of its nature and appear in this production too. The potent combination of sex and religion led director David McVicar to an inspired exploration of its hypnotically degenerate central character, and Es Devlin’s art-deco-inspired designs evoke physical and moral decay in a grand setting. Hartmut Haenchen conducts a virtuoso orchestral score suited to the equally virtuosic talents of the Orchestra of the Royal Opera House. Such a powerful combination of opera, production and performers offers one of the great intense experiences of the whole operatic repertory – a thrilling evening in every sense with The Royal Opera. The Biblical story, on which the play is loosely based, tells

Performances how Salome’s mother Herodias urged her daughter to dance before Herod, Tetrarch of Judea, and ask for the head of the Baptist as a reward. The Baptist had angered Salome’s mother by condemning her marriage to Herod as immoral. In Wilde’s version, Salome’s motives are rather different; she is furious that John has spurned her amorous advances. Strauss’s music reflects the characters’ dark and disturbed passions, leading to Salome’s wild and seductive Dance of the Seven Veils, and the shocking final scene in which she kisses the freshly severed head of John the Baptist. The lead soprano role of Salome is extremely challenging. The singer must conquer extreme vocal demands and sing against a full symphony orchestra while exploring the multiple facets of Salome’s character: pathos, tenderness, sensual ecstasy, and inherent tragedy. Strauss was insistent that Salome should not sound strident, but retain an essential innocence.

31 May at 8pm 5 | 8 | 11 | 14 June at 8pm 16 june at 7.30pm This production first performed in 2008. The performance lasts about 1hour 45 minutes; there is no interval. Sung in German with English Subtitles..

Rehearsals 28 may at 11am Tickets £15 | £13 rear Amphitheatre and restricted view | £4 Slips.

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Royal Opera House | Ballet

A stunning masterpiece Guardian

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The Synopsis Production first shown in 2008, the performance lasts approximately 1 hour 45 minutes with no interval. The terrace of Herod’s palace. A great banquet is in progress inside the palace. The prophet Jokanaan (John the Baptist) is heard from his prison deep in the palace where he is imprisoned by Herod, who fears his powers. Salome leaves the banquet, and hears Jokanaan cursing the sinfulness of her mother’s incestuous marriage to Herod (in Hebrew law, a man was not allowed to marry his dead brother’s wife, but Herod violated this law). Salome is intrigued and persuades Narraboth, Captain of Herod’s guard, to bring Jokanaan to her. The prophet emerges from his dungeon. Salome is filled with desire for Jokanaan, praising his black hair, ivory skin and red mouth. He rails against the sins of her stepfather and mother and urges Salome to seek salvation by leaving the palace and following Jesus, the Messiah. Seeing Salome’s infatuation, Narraboth kills himself out of jealousy. Jokanaan is returned to his dungeon. Herod enters, followed by his wife and guests, and slips in the blood around Narraboth’s corpse. He remarks on the strange eeriness of the moonlit night. He discusses theology with some Jewish guests. Two visitors from Nazareth tell Herod of the miracles worked by the Messiah. Herod becomes fearful, but Herodias is unconvinced.

Herod begs Salome to dance for him, and swears to give her whatever her heart desires in return. She is reluctant but finally agrees. Having danced, Salome demands her prize: the head of Jokanaan, on a silver platter. Herod is appalled and offers her jewels, rare white peacocks, endless riches and even the Veil of the Temple instead. Salome will not be swayed and Herod gives the order for Jokanaan to be beheaded. When Jokanaan’s severed head is brought up, Salome seizes it, contemplating Jokanaan’s dead eyes and lips. She declares her love for the dead prophet before kissing his lips passionately, singing: ‘You would not let me kiss your mouth, Jokanaan, but see, I will kiss it now’. Herod is terrified, and orders his soldiers to kill Salome.

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Interview with Angela Denoka Talking about the upcoming performance of Salome Taking the title role in Covent Garden’s first revival of Salome in the powerful staging by David McVicar is Angela Denoke making her third appearance on the house. She may be new to this production but this is a role that has a central position in her repertoire. She has played Salome in Vienna, Berlin and Munich and dramatic roles of this kind have s special attraction for her. The drive and intensity that this repertoire calls for might lead one to assume that Angela would have brought resolve and determination to the shaping of her career. When did you first realise you could sing? The voice came into it only after my first piano teacher encouraged me at the age of twelve to move on to study with somebody else. This teacher had the idea that I should play and sing simultaneously, blending voice parts in the piano with a separate vocal line. It was that exercise that made him realise that I could sing quite well, so he not only gave me singing lessons but suggested that I should sing in a church choir. That way I began to sing all the time – but it was for fun and not with any idea of wanting to become a singer. I was interested in art and literature too and, by 6


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spending one afternoon every week at his house, I learnt quite a lot about music and about life also. At that stage we talked together about the possibility of my taking up school work and becoming a music teacher. That led on to studies in Hamburg which included singing lessons and my interest in that side of things started to grow. Consequently my teacher encouraged me to give it a try.

‘I feel that I can create and that I can make it my own: that is what is interesting for me.’ How do you interpret your character? I don’t have one particular view of her and even within the same production it can vary from one performance to another: one evening she’s more childish and another she shows the strength of a princess. It’s also how you feel on the day! But in this staging there’s more emphasis on that aspect of the story that concerns Herod and Salome, and

the ‘Dance of the Seven Veils’ is taken as a opportunity to make it clear why she is the person that she is. This is complex territory and audiences at Covent Garden may well vary in how they choose to interpret the titular character and in how they feel about her. What do you hope for by way of a response? I hope that they understand why Salome acts as she does and therefore feel at least some sympathy because that’s what should come with understanding.” As for the appeal of this opera and of this particular character for Angela, it can be summed up by the freedom she experiences when faced by the myriad possibilities inherent in the role. “I did Fidelio in two productions but didn’t feel that Leonore was a good part for me. I can sing it and I can make it work, but I still have the feeling that I’m kind of trapped in a role like that. With others that I sing such as Salome, I feel that I can create and that I can make it my own: that is what is interesting for me.

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When it’s as good as the Royal Opera’s Salome, it is the real thing. Metro

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How is Salome different from other performances you have done? Strauss brings us on to more detailed comments on Salome and on David McVicar’s production for which the conductor is Hartmut Haenchen (“I’ve worked with him before – many years ago we did Capriccio together in Amsterdam and I appeared in Parsifal when he was con ducting. I have a really good feeling about him, not least for what he brings to Salome”). Although it’s the case that the whole of Salome is shorter than the first Act of Götterdämmerung, the intensity called for by both composers invites a comparison. “To my mind Wagner is much easier than Salome and that’s because however different Salome is from, say, Arabella or Der Rosenkavalier, the one thing that links them is that Strauss always creates long, long lines without giving time for you to breathe. Wagner, however, ensures that you do have the time to take a breath before having to sing the next phrase. But the fact that Salome goes through without an interval is helpful – certainly from an actor’s point of view, but for singing

too it has its advantages. I don’t really like long breaks as happens when you are singing the Marschallin in Rosenkavalier: there you sing the whole first Act but then have something like two hours off before you have to start again. On the other hand, it can be beneficial to have a break because then you can reemerge refreshed bodily – it’s more a physical thing than a question of what helps the voice.”


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Characters Roméo A young member of the Montague family, engaged in a deadly and continual feud with the Capulets; in love with his mortal enemy’s daughter. Juliette Capulet’s young daughter, betrothed to Paris but in love with Roméo – her family’s great enemy. Tybalt The hot-headed and aggressive nephew of Lady Capulet, he precipitates the duel which leads to his own death and Roméo’s banishment. Mercutio Roméo’s friend, he accompanies him to the Capulets’ ball and teases him about his love affairs. He is later killed in the affray by Tybalt. Capulet Juliette’s father and autocratic head of the Capulet family, he maintains the age-old feud with the Montagues. Frère Laurent A Franciscan friar (Shakespeare’s Friar Laurence), he agrees to marry Roméo and Juliette as a way of bringing the feud to an end. His message alerting Roméo to the potion Juliette has taken remains undelivered, with tragic consequences. 9


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What’s On: La Fille du Régiment Irrepressible humour, catchy melodies and comic coincidence make for a delightful evening.

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a Fille du régiment had its premiere at the OpéraComique in Paris in 1840. Its combination of exuberant comedy, genuine feeling and rousing, patriotic sentiment soon made it a national institution and it was regularly revived on Bastille Day in France. The opera had a long absence from Covent Garden, but in 1966 Dame Joan Sutherland reintroduced it to London, playing the irrepressible heroine, Marie, with Luciano Pavarotti as her lover, Tonio. La Fille returned to the Royal Opera House in 2007 in Laurent Pelly’s delightful production, which has since toured the world. Pelly’s production fizzes with humour and features wonderfully inventive sets: enormous maps evoke the mountainous terrain of Tyrol, the regiment’s camp drowns in piles of laundry and an armoured tank bursts into a drawing room. Against this lively backdrop, Donizetti’s score weaves robust, military melodies with moments of pathos, such as Marie’s

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Performances moving farewell to her friends at the end of Act I. Other highlights include the bravura tenor aria ‘Pour mon âme’, with its vertical leaps to a succession of high Cs, and the delightful duet ‘Quoi? vous m’aimez!’ in which Tonio ardently expresses his love for Marie.

27 April at 7.30pm 1 | 7 | 10 | May at 7.30pm This production first performed in 2008. The performance lasts about 2 hours 45 minutes; there is one interval.

Rehearsals 28 may at 11am Tickets £15 | £13 rear Amphitheatre and restricted view | £4 Slips.


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The Synopsis Unbeatable continuum of charm and brilliance. Guardian The opera is set near Bologna at the castle of the marchioness. Marie, having been found on the battlefield as a baby by the soldiers of the second regiment, is adopted by them and follows her “fathers” as vivandière. Her life is saved by the young Swiss Tonio. She loves him, and as she has sworn only to belong to a member of the regiment, he enlists. She is separated from her lover, however, as she is recognised as her niece by the marchioness from letters which the honest sergeant Sulpice has saved. Marie bids farewell to her beloved regiment and to her lover and follows her relative. The second act takes place at the castle of the marchioness. Marie’s only pleasure, notwithstanding her riches, is conversing with old Sulpice, who has become an invalid and is living at the castle. She is to marry the son of the duchess of Craquitorpi and is almost reconciled to her fate when she hears martial music. Her old regiment arrives and with it Tonio as an officer. She throws all her finery into a heap, joyfully hails the troops and rushes into Tonio’s arms. The duchess indignantly retires, and when the marchioness, who loves Marie as

a daughter, gives her consent, amid universal rejoicing she is married to Tonio. Act I Chorus and ensemble. Duet between Sulpice and Marie: “Ha, it is she, the thunder, the joy”; Marie’s song: “On the field of honour.” Ensemble.) Tonio is to be shot as a spy, but is rescued by Marie, who declares that he has saved her life. (Marie’s song of the regiment: “Does the world not know, does the world not say”; Love duet: “You love me”; Finale, chorus of soldiers; Tonio’s song of the recruit: “I join your flag”; Marie’s farewell: “Farewell, dear brothers.” Act II Scene: “The young day arises”; Marie’s aria of joy at the appearance of her old regiment: “Hail to thee, my country”; Terzett between her, Sulpice and Tonio: “At last we are united.”) Finale: Marie tells the story of her life, the marchioness gives her consent and unites her with Tonio. (Final chorus: “Hail to thee, O my country.”

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Royal Opera House | Ballet

Outstanding performances from Nu単ez and Thiago. Guardian 12


ROYAL OPERA HOUSE | BALLET

What’s On: Romeo and Juliet Romeo and Juliet makes for a fantastic night at the Opera House. Telegraph

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enneth MacMillan’s interpretation of Romeo and Juliet’s doomed love is one of the greatest examples of 20th century choreography. This revival by The Royal Ballet brings all the lyrical beauty and touching fluidity of its intimate moments for the two lovers along with the grandeur of the ball scene and the action-packed encounters of the opposing Montagues and Capulets. Beautifully staged with rich period costumes and designs, Romeo and Juliet will draw you into its intense drama with some of the finest of today’s dancers matched to the powerful sounds of Prokofiev’s famous music. This is a wonderful chance for you to experience one of the enduring tragic tales of all time, a classic of the international ballet repertory and a favourite of Royal Ballet audiences.

Performances 21 | 22 | 24 May at 7.30pm 26 may at 2pm and 7pm 7 | 12 | 15 June at 7.30pm

Rehearsals 19 may at 11.30am Tickets £15 | £13 rear amphitheatre and restricted view | £4 slips

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Royal Opera House | Ballet

Characters Roméo A young member of the Montague family, engaged in a deadly and continual feud with the Capulets; in love with his mortal enemy’s daughter. Juliette Capulet’s young daughter, betrothed to Paris but in love with Roméo – her family’s great enemy. Tybalt the hot-headed and aggressive nephew of Lady Capulet, he precipitates the duel which leads to his own death and Roméo’s banishment. Mercutio Roméo’s friend, he accompanies him to the Capulets’ ball and teases him about his love affairs. He is later killed in the affray by Tybalt. Capulet Juliette’s father and autocratic head of the Capulet family, he maintains the age-old feud with the Montagues. Frère Laurent A Franciscan friar (Shakespeare’s Friar Laurence), he agrees to marry Roméo and Juliette as a way of bringing the feud to an end. His message alerting Roméo to the potion Juliette has taken remains undelivered, with tragic consequences. 14


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The Synopsis ACT I | A splendid ball at the Capulets’ house. Paris admires the lovely Juliette. Gertrude, Juliette’s old nurse, tells her that Paris will make a good husband, but Juliette is intent upon living the joys of youth to the full. Roméo and Mercutio – members of the hated Montague family – have gatecrashed the ball in disguise. Roméo sees Juliette, and is instantly struck by love. Roméo flirts with Juliette, and manages to avoid a confrontation with her cousin Tybalt by slipping away. ACT II | The garden of the Capulets’ house Aided by his page Stéphano, Roméo climbs into Juliette’s garden and sings of his love for her. Juliette appears and the two declare their love, aware of its potentially fearful consequences. Roméo must flee before he is discovered. Just before he departs, Juliette proposes that they should marry. ACT III | Frère Laurent’s cell Roméo and Juliette arrive at Frère Laurent’s cell to be married. The friar has agreed to wed them as a way of ending their families’ feud. A street outside the Capulets’ house. A fight ensues between the Capulets and Montagues. Mercutio joins in on the Montagues’ side, Tybalt and Paris on

the Capulets’. Mercutio is killed and Roméo kills Tybalt in revenge. Hearing of the fray, the Duke of Verona appears and exiles Roméo. ACT IV | Juliette’s room Roméo comes to bid farewell to Juliette and beg her forgiveness for killing Tybalt. She forgives him. They regard this occasion as their wedding night and sing of its rapture. As dawn comes, they part reluctantly. Juliette’s father enters with news of her imminent marriage to Paris. After he has left, Frère Laurent arrives with a special potion for Juliette. It will make her appear dead for a day, so that she can avoid the wedding, then he and Roméo will rescue her from the tomb. In the Capulet palace Juliette collapses, seemingly dead, at her wedding celebration. ACT V | The Capulets’ Tomb Juliette sleeps, as if dead. Roméo enters, stricken with grief. He contemplates her beauty, and then kisses her before taking poison. Juliette starts to wake up, bewildered at first but slowly understanding the situation when Roméo admits that he has taken poison. She stabs herself and they die in each other’s arms.

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Interview with Marianela Nuñez & Thiago Soares Talking about the upcoming performance of Romeo and Juliet Electrifying ballet partnerships like Thiago and Marianela’s are rare. Together they continue to grow and secure such coveted roles as Diamonds in Balanchine’s Jewels (2007), MacMillan’s Romeo and Juliet (2008) plus Crown Prince Rudolf and Countess Larisch in Mayerling (2009 – in different casts). When we finally catch up, they have been in and out of rehearsals for a new run of Romeo and Juliet. One would never tell ballet is such hard work from meeting them; far from looking exhausted they are all warmth, bubbliness and South American charm. How did you two meet and what came first: love or onstage partnership? Marianela: I was already in the company when Thiago joined in 2002 and we started working together. In our first year we danced a few pas de deux and then later we went guesting and that’s when everything started. We were in Miami performing and there was something in the air but I was playing hard to get. Thiago went back to London and I had to go back to Argentina for a show so we left it at that. But after my first show in Buenos Aires I had a huge bouquet of flowers waiting for me that he had sent, so…well done! And that’s when I went “awwww…”. So I

called him back and that’s how everything started. But first of all, we were friends and we worked together. Thiago’s part of the story is, apparently, that the first time that I met him… Thiago: [looking at Marianela] May I? I joined the company and I didn’t speak English very well then, but I knew there were a few Latin Americans so I knew I would be fine, that they would help me. The first week I didn’t see anyone because I was doing fittings and learning about the building and the company. On my third day I met Marianela. She was in the lift and I walked in and first thing she said “oh, tu eres el brasileño” , this is “you are the Brazilian guy”. I nodded and she said “how are you doing and are you joining the company, blah blah blah…”. She was very nice, lovely… She looked at me and said “maybe we can grab a coffee or something”. Thiago: [suggestively] I don’t know but, I am from Brazil and I learned that here in the UK, if you don’t know someone, and you invite them for coffee… so then I thought: there’s an opportunity! But after that nothing happened until a year later in Miami. Even then, we started to go out but we kept it quiet in the beginning. 17


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Let’s talk about Romeo & Juliet, which you will be performing very soon. How do you see your respective characters and how do you try to portray them? Marianela: We follow the play. How you see the characters in the play gives you a basis but, obviously, you put your personal feelings on top of that. The story is so straightforward and it’s wonderful if you are doing it with somebody you love. I love playing Juliet. She is this young girl suddenly discovering real love, and she is a very strong young lady, just look at how far she goes. I haven’t done the role very much so it still feels fresh and I am still discovering what to do onstage. I am so looking forward to it this time around…and MacMillan’s choreography, the production is incredible, I think it’s probably the best. Thiago: I agree with Marianela. We are very lucky to have Kenneth’s production which in my opinion is the most complete. Everything you want to do in ballet is there, specially for Romeo. [Addressing Marianela] Even though for you guys is fantastic and very rewarding, Romeo is involved in a lot more scenes, he dances more, he has to jump more, he has to fight… all the elements you want to work with as a dancer and actor. You try to make the best out of this journey, even though you know you will

feel drained by the end of it. Not only do I have to try and do my best technically, following the set choreographic patterns, I also want to bring something extra so that it resonates with today’s audiences, so that it’s not just Romeo and Juliet on paper. I try to bring elements people can relate to, how strong they were, how brave they were to deal with their family issues, all of that for love. The ballet grows in a fantastic way. It’s very difficult to get it totally wrong because the choreography is there. Marianela: [agreeing with Thiago] It’s a masterpiece, half of the job is done for you.

‘MacMilan’s choerography, the production is incredible, I think it’s probably the best’ Do you have any new insights on the roles of Romeo & Juliet as compared to when you debuted together in 2008? Thiago: When we debuted it was crazy. Marianela: We didn’t have that much time. Thiago: We had 8 days…


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Marianela: … because we were doing so many things in between. Now we had more time so you think about it and work it in the studio to keep it fresh, to discover new things and enrich the reading of the role. Thiago: You prepare, put things together and you are ready, but sometimes magic also happens, something from the gods. The first time we did it we felt that it was a bit messy technically but many people said to us “oh my God, the world stopped”. In the second performance we felt we were tidier, more “by the book” and it didn’t feel like it had the same “magic”. Marianela: He was so clever, Kenneth. Sometimes you don’t even have to try it, the job is done for you. The music does it, the choreography does it. You are surrounded by people like Lord Capulet, Lady Capulet, by character artists who have done the ballet for so many years. Everything suddenly falls into place, you are involved in this amazing thing; it takes over you. Like Thiago says, you plan something ahead and suddenly your instincts go for something else. Romeo and Juliet is the kind of ballet one can literally lose oneself in. 19


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What’s On: Swan Lake A compelling story of a tragic romance

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wan Lake was Pyotr Tchaikovsky’s first score for ballet. Its 1877 premiere was poorly received, but it has since become one of the most loved of all ballets. The twinned role of the pure White Swan and the scheming, duplicitous Black Swan tests the full range of a ballerina’s powers, particularly in the two great pas de deux of Acts II and III. Other highlights include the charming Dance of the Little Swans performed by a moonlit lake, and sweeping ballroom waltzes in the splendor of the royal palace. Anthony Dowell’s romantic interpretation returns the ballet to its 1895 origins by using the choreography of Lev Ivanov and Marius Petipa. Dramatic costumes emphasize the contrast between human and spirit worlds, while glowing lanterns, shimmering fabrics and designs inspired by the work of Carl Fabergé create a magical setting.

Performances 20 | 21 | 22 June at 7.30pm 23 June at 2pm and 7pm 5 | 12 | 13 July at 7.30pm

Rehearsals 19 June at 11.30am Tickets £15 | £13 rear amphitheatre and restricted view | £4 slips

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A magical masterpiece. Guardian 22


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The Synopsis With instantly recognizable music and a timeless story of good against evil, Swan Lakes the greatest of Romantic ballets. ACT I The first act of Swan Lake is set outside the palace grounds amidst peasants’ preparations to celebrate the carefree Prince Siegfried’s coming of age. In what couldn’t have been less of a gift, when his mother finds out about the unofficial party, she tells Siegfried that the time has come for him to select a bride. The scene ends with the Prince and his friends hunting the swans grazing the evening sky. ACT II Siegfried’s friend Benno and the cadets take a break from their swan-hunt by the lakeside ruins of a chapel where an evil spirit lurks in the form of an owl. When Siegfried appears, a flock of swans flies in with one of them transforming into a beautiful maiden, the Swan Queen Odette. Odette (now in human form by her mother’s lake of tears) explains that she and her swan companions are victims of

the evil spirit who has cast a spell over them; the spell can only be broken once and for all if one who has never loved before swears to love Odette for ever. Odette and Siegfired fall in love. ACT III The costume ball has commenced and Siegfried is reminded by his mother that he must choose a wife. In a strange twist, the evil spirit (morphed into a human) walks in with a girl that looks astonishingly like Odette and Siegfried is deceived into choosing her as a wife. ACT IV Siegfried has, by now, recognized his mistake and griefstricken, he returns to the lake in search of Odette. When he finds her, he begs for forgiveness and the two of them choose death over the evil spirit’s revenge.

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Tryst | Summer 2012 Melissa Hamilton and Eric Underwood

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