Premiere: on January 27, 1895 in Saint-Petersbourg (Russia) at the Maryinsky Theater.
Dancers at the premiere: Pierina Legnani (Odette/Odile), Pavel Gerdt (the prince Siegfried).
In the repertoire of the Paris Opera Ballet since 1960 (premiered by Josette Amiel and Flemming Flindt).
About the plot: It is based on motives from J.K.A. Musäus' The stolen veil pulished in his collection of Volksmärchen der Deutschen.
About the ballet: there were several unsuccessful versions
of this ballet before the one of Petipa and Ivanov.
The first version, on a choreography of Julius Reisinger, was premiered on March 4, 1877 at the Bolshoi Theater in Moscow, with sets by H. Shangin, K. Valts and H. Groppius, and costumes by H. Simone and Vormenko. Pelageia Karpakova and S. Gillert danced the main roles. It was not successful. Another version was staged in 1880 by the Belgian choreographer Joseph Hansen, still for the Bolshoi company, but wasn't more successful.
Petipa and Ivanov staged it in 1895 at the Maryinsky Theatre in St-Petersburg, after staging other ballets on Tchaikovsky's musics (The Sleeping Beauty (1890), The Nutcracker (1892)): Tchaikovsky had died just before... Petipa made the choreography for Acts I and III, while Ivanov made the choreography for Acts II and IV ("white acts"). Unlike the previous ones, this production was very successful.
Since then, many versions have been staged, more or less faithful to the original one, for example those of Gorsky, Sergueyev, Bourmeister, Erik Bruhn, Yuri Grigorovitch (premiered by the Bolshoi Ballet in 1969), George Balanchine (premiered by the New York City Ballet in 1951, with Maria Tallchief and Andrť Eglevsky), Rudolf Nureyev...
The role of Odette/Odile is considered as a great
challenge for a ballerina; among its greatest interprets,
one can mention Alicia Markova, Margot Fonteyn, Maia Plissetskaia,
Natalia Makarova, NoŽlla Pontois, Nanon Thibon...
And among the great Siegfrieds were Erik Bruhn, Rudolf Nureyev, Mikhail Baryschnikov, MichaŽl Denard, Cyril Atanassoff...