In the park in front of the castle, Prince Siegfried and his friends are celebrating his coming of age. The guests drink his health and make merry. The jester entertains them with his antics. Someone warns the Prince that his mother, the reigning Queen, is approaching. The merrymaking stops immediately because all the traces of the little feast must be removed. The jester’s clumsiness, however, betrays them: he lets the tell- tale wine goblets fall to the ground. The Queen is displeased with her son’s behavior, but the maidens, running up to present her with a bouquet of roses, mollify her. After the Queen departs the merrymaking resumes. Twilight falls. The guests depart, leaving the Prince alone in the park. High above, Siegfried sees a flight of white swans. The sight stirs the hunter’s instincts in him. and seizing his bow, the Prince makes his way into the heart of the forest.
At a lake in the depths of the forest white swans are swimming to the shore. They are beautiful young maidens transformed into swans by the evil magician Rothbart. They can only assume human form at night and there is no power on earth which can break the evil enchantment except the power of devoted love.
The Prince became excited by the site of prey and raised his bow to take a shot. In another instant his arrow would pierce his target, a swan, but before he releases his arrow the bird suddenly turns into a beautiful maiden. This is Odette, the Queen of the swan maidens.
Odette`s beauty charms the Prince. He tries to capture the swam-maiden, but she is afraid of the wicked magician, and evades Siegfried. She loses herself in the midst of the maidens circling in a dance. Finding her, Siegfried vows eternal love and fidelity to her. Odette`s heart responds to Siegfried`s passionate love. She sees in him a champion who will rescue her from the evil sorcerer’s power. Dawn breaks. The maidens will soon be turned into swans again. Odette bids Siegfried a tender farewell. The white swans glide slowly away across the lake.
Opens with A ball at the castle of the Queen, Siegfried`s mother. Siegfried is to choose his bride among the maidens invited. He remans indifferent to all of them, for he has given his heart to Odette. Only at his mother’s insistent request does he dance with the maidens invited to the ball. He must, however, choose one of them, and present the bride he has chosen with a bunch of flowers. A flourish of trumpets heralds the arrival of new guests. They are the magician Rothbart and his daughter, Odile. The Prince is struck by her resemblance to Odette. Rothbart wants the Prince to fall in love with Odile and to forget Odette, thus breaking his vow of eternal love and fidelity to her. Then Odette will remain for ever in the sorcerer`s power. It is for this reason that he has given his daughter the features and form of Odette. Odile entices Siegfried who is fascinated by her charm.He announces to his mother that the beautiful Odile is his choice. The wicked magician is jubilant. Suddenly Siegfried sees a vision of the swan-maiden outside the castle window. The Prince realizes that he has been deceived into breaking his vow. In despair, he rushes to the lake, to h is beloved Odette.
Night. has fallen on the shore of the lake and there stand the swan-maidens dejected and sad as Odette has told them what happened. Siegfried rushes in, distracted by despair. He begs Odette to forgive him, professing his unchanging love for her. The enraged sorcerer summons some black swans and commands them to separate Odete and Siegfried. Siegfried grapples with the magician. He fights for his love and for Odette`s happiness. In the fearless encounter, he breaks Rothbart`s wing. The enchanter collapses; his power is gone, he dies. Love has broken the evil spell. The radiant light of the rising sun falls on the Prince and on Odette and all the maidens Siegfried has rescued.