Saturday, October 16, 2010

Swan Lake and the Ugly Duckling

      Swan Lake is one of the most famous ballets ever performed and has been reproduced in many countries throughout the world.Tchaikovsky wrote the ballet in 1876.Tchaikovsky was a famous composer of ballets and his other works included Sleeping Beauty in 1889 and The Nutcracker in 1892
   The classic ballet begins with the celebration of Prince Siegfried’s 21st birthday. He is expected to take a wife in marriage. Discouraged, he retreats to an enchanted lake and discovers a uniquely beautiful swan floating among her companions. At dusk, she turns into a beautiful woman named Odette. She is the swan queen. An evil sorcerer named von Rothbart has turned Odette and her fellow lake maidens into swans by day and they can only be human by night. The weeping of the maiden daughters parents caused the formation of the lake itself. 

Swans Swimming on the Lake 

Swans on the Lake

   There is much controversy over the origin of the Swan Lake story. For centuries, legends of swans, symbolizing the purity of womanhood, can be found transcending both Eastern and Western literature. It is known that Tchaikovsky was commissioned by Vladimir  Begichev, of the Russian Imperial Theatres in Moscow and a friend of Tchaikovsky, to write a score for Swan Lake in May 1875.
   It was Begichev who wrote the initial programme of the ballet. He, along with Vasily  Geltser, a dancer in the Moscow company, are credited with writing the words for the ballet. It is highly likely that Tchaikovsky had a good deal of influence over the story’s development as well. Legends of swans were presumably familiar to Tchaikovsky and his artistic friends, who no doubt discussed the idea of the swan as a symbol of womanhood at its purest.

Swan Lake 

   The legend of the Swan Maiden goes back for centuries, appearing in differing forms in both eastern and western literature. Women who turn into birds and vice versa were popular themes, and the swan was particularly favored due to its grace when swimming in the water. The ancient Greeks considered the swan to the bird closest to the Muses. When Apollo was born at Delos, the event was celebrated by flights of circling swans.

The Ugly Duckling 
Hans Christian Anderson
    I can't understand how this ugly duckling can be one of mine!" she said to herself, shaking her head as she looked at her last born. Well, the gray duckling certainly wasn't pretty, and since he ate far more than his brothers, he was outgrowing them. As the days went by, the poor ugly duckling became more and more unhappy. His brothers didn't want to play with him, he was so
clumsy, and all the farmyard folks simply laughed at him. He felt sad and lonely, while Mother Duck did her best to console him.

   "Poor little ugly duckling!" she would say. "Why are you so different from the others?" And the ugly duckling felt worse than ever. He secretly wept at night. He felt nobody wanted him.
   Then one morning the ugly duckling sees the beautiful swans . He knows them. He wants so much to swim with them in the river. But he is afraid of them. He wants to die. So he runs into the river. He looks into the water. There in the water he sees a beautiful swan. It is he! He is no more an ugly duckling. He is a beautiful white swan.

 Ugly Duckling Danny Kaye

The Swan Song
      This term derived from the legend that, while they are mute during the rest of their lives, swans sing beautifully and mournfully just before they die. This isn't actually the case swans, even the inaccurately named Mute Swans, have a variety of vocal sounds and they don't sing before they die. The legend was known to be false as early as the days of ancient Rome.
Nevertheless, poetic imagery proved to be more attractive and many poets and writers used this legend. Chaucer included this line in the poem Parliament of Fowles.
Shakespeare,  used the image in The Merchant of Venice, 1596.

Aesops Fable  A Raven and a Swan
     A Raven saw a Swan and strongly desired the Swan's beautiful white feathers. Thinking the color was due to constant washing in the water the Swan was swimming in, the Raven left his perch and went to live in the lake. But washing in the lake's water had no effect on the Raven's color and as he could not fish for food, he perished.
    Maybe these are two ravens that did'nt perish but transformed into Black Swans.

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