June 18, 2016

101 Reel-to-Reel Tapes 118: Tchaikovsky ~ Swan Lake

reel-to-reel tape box
cover photographer unknown
photo by Styrous®

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I started the Vinyl LP series because I have a collection of over 20,000 vinyl record albums I am selling; each blog entry is about an album from my collection. The 101 Reel-to-Reel Tapes series is an extension of that collection. Inquire for information here.   

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Swan Lake (Russian: Лебединое озеро/Lebedinoye ozero), Op. 20, is a ballet composed by Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky in 1875–76. It was based on Russian folk tales and tells the story of Odette, a princess turned into a swan by an evil sorcerer's curse. The choreographer of the original production was Julius Reisinger. The libretto is based on a story by the German author Johann Karl August Musäus, Der geraubte Schleier (The Stolen Veil).   

As with all the music I love, there is always one song, melody, title, whatever, that is my favorite. In this work it is the "Black Swan" theme; it is incredibly beautiful and extremely dramatic (link below).

Swan Lake Rocks

Madness did a cover of the Swan Lake theme that is sensational. It employs a ska beat with a great piano intro; of course, the smooth sax work by Lee Thompson is featured as well (YouTube link below).

PIL (Public Image, Ltd.) had a turn at the tune with their punk rock version, with vocal by John Lydon (aka Johnny Rotten). Jah Wobble was on bass with this one (YouTube link below).     

Dark Moor is a is a Spanish neo-classical metal and symphonic power metal band from Madrid. They do an 8 minute cover that is outstanding. The vocal by Enrik Garcia is powerful and actually very beautiful, not what you'd expect from a metal band (YouTube link below).    

The Nebulas did an instrumental 'n smokin' surf version on their 2001 album, Hot Rods, Waves & Women! Cowabunga, dudes!  

The Japanese instrumental rock group Takeshi Terauchi & Bunnys recorded a rock version on their 1967 album, Let's Go Unmei ; it features shakahaci flute & guitars for a very interesting effect (YouTube link below).  

reel-to-reel tape cover back
photo by Styrous®

The ballet was premiered by the Bolshoi Ballet on 4 March [O.S. 20 February] 1877 at the Bolshoi Theatre in Moscow.   

There is a photo dated 1901, in which Adelaide Giuri danced the role of Odette and Mikhail Mordkin as Prince Siegfried in Aleksandr Gorsky's staging of the Petipa/Ivanov Swan Lake for the Bolshoi Theatre, Moscow. A young Vera Karalli is seen kneeling.         

 kneeling: Vera Karalli
photographer unknown

In 1940, San Francisco Ballet became the first American company to stage a complete production of Swan Lake. The enormously successful production starred Lew Christensen as Prince Siegfried, Jacqueline Martin as Odette, and Janet Reed as Odile. Willam Christensen based his choreography on the Petipa-Ivanov production, turning to San Francisco’s large population of Russian émigrés, headed by Princess and Prince Vasili Alexandrovich of Russia, to help him ensure that the production succeeded in its goal of preserving Russian culture in San Francisco.    

The Swan Lake interpretation by Matthew Bourne departed from the traditional ballet by replacing the female corps de ballet with male dancers. Since its inception in 1995, Bourne's production has never been off the stage for more than a few months. It has toured the United Kingdom and returned to London several times. It has been performed on extended tours in Greece, Israel, Turkey, Australia, Italy, Japan, Korea, Russia, France, Germany, the Netherlands, the United States, and Ireland in addition to the United Kingdom. Bourne's Swan Lake has won over 30 international awards to date.    

The Swedish dancer/choreographer Fredrik Rydman has produced a modern dance/street dance interpretation of the ballet entitled Swan Lake Reloaded. It features the "swans" as being heroin addict prostitutes who are kept in place by Rothbart, their pimp. The music used in the production uses themes and melodies from Tchaikovsky's score and incorporates them into hip-hop and techno tunes. It is quite something to see (YouTube link below).         

reel-to-reel tape label detail
detail photo by Styrous®

In 2010, Black Swan, a film starring Natalie Portman and Mila Kunis, featured sequences from Swan Lake. The plot revolves around a production of Tchaikovsky's Swan Lake ballet by a prestigious New York City company. The production requires a ballerina to play the innocent and fragile White Swan, for which the committed dancer Nina (Portman) is a perfect fit, as well as the dark and sensual Black Swan, which are qualities better embodied by the new arrival Lily (Kunis). Nina is overwhelmed by a feeling of immense pressure when she finds herself competing for the part, causing her to lose her tenuous grip on reality and descend into a living nightmare.    

Theatrical poster for Black Swan,
Copyright © 2010 by Fox Searchlight Pictures.

Net links:         
"Black Swan" theme on YouTube            
Matthew Bourne's Swan Lake on YouTube         
Swan Lake Reloaded on YouTube   

Madness - Swan Lake on YouTube
Public Image Ltd.- Swan Lake on YouTube           
The Nebulas - Swan Lake on YouTube        
Takeshi Terauchi & Bunnys - Swan Lake on YouTube          
Tchaikovsky on the Viewfinder:         
Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky       
1812 Overture     
The Nutcracker & Joyous Tidings          
Symphony #6, (Pathétique)           
Van Cliburn & Sputnik ~ 1958   


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