Swan Lake’s century-long journey with the Finnish National Ballet
Swan Lake, which was the first ever ballet to be staged at the Finnish Opera in 1922 and seen at the opening celebration of the new Opera House in 1993, has been one of the most important works in the history of the Finnish National Ballet. It was also performed to mark the 10th anniversary of the Finnish National Ballet in 1932, 40th anniversary in 1962, and 50th anniversary in 1972.
By the time Swan Lake premiered in Helsinki in 1922, it had only ever been performed by Russian and Czech ballet groups, and only visiting Russian ballet groups had brought it to Western Europe.
The Finnish National Ballet had the honour to perform Swan Lake on its first ever grand overseas tour in Stockholm in 1946. This was the first time the ballet was seen in its entirety in Sweden. To date, the Finnish National Ballet has performed Swan Lake more than 700 times.
Swan Lake had its world premiere in Moscow in 1877, and the Petipa–Ivanov choreography on which most of today’s versions are based, was first performed in 1895.
As more than a century has passed, the ballet has evolved. Aesthetic ideas, the movement language of dance, technical possibilities and the expectations of the audience have all changed drastically. The development of Swan Lake reflects the development of the entire ballet genre in Finland.