If only Tchaikovsky could know the soaring popularity of two of his best-known works, the ballets “The Nutcracker” and “Swan Lake.”
After their debut, the pieces were largely dismissed by critics and the masses and dropped from his repertoire. Performers and audiences thought the music in the latter was too complicated, and ballet dancers struggled with the choreography.
And the Russian composer himself didn’t believe in his work.
“Tchaikovsky was famously self-critical and insecure,” said Nathan Newbrough, president and CEO of the Colorado Springs Philharmonic. “He did not appreciate his own works. He was his own worst critic. That’s a shame, but we have to admit many artists are this way.”
The Philharmonic will present an evening of Tchaikovsky’s works in “Swan Lake,” with his “Symphony No. 7” and selected scenes from “Swan Lake” with Eugene Ballet. The performances Friday through Sunday at the Pikes Peak Center might be the first time the orchestra ever has performed the iconic ballet, Newbrough said.
The first half of the evening features “Symphony No. 7,” which is so unknown and rarely performed that some of the orchestra’s musicians thought it was a mistake when they saw it on the season’s program, said Newbrough. The symphony also comes with controversy. Tchaikovsky did the lion’s share of work on the piece in 1891, only to lose interest and put it aside. Later, his devotees and students finished the work.
“Swan Lake,” inspired by European folk stories, prompted Tchaikovsky’s ballet about Prince Siegfried, who endeavors to choose a bride. During a ball, the prince encounters a flock of swans who he learns are actually beautiful maidens cursed by an evil sorcerer. They take on bird form during the day and revert to their human bodies at night. Siegfried falls in love with the princess and swan queen Odette, only to be thwarted by the sorcerer, who sends Odile, a carbon copy of Odette, and often played by the same dancer, to fool him.
“The role of Black Swan (Odile) in ‘Swan Lake’ is the seducer,” said Newbrough. “She’s the daughter of the evil sorcerer and there to seduce and trick the prince so he can’t fall in love and marry his swan queen.”
JENNIFER MULSON, THE GAZETTE, 636-0270, JEN.MULSON@GAZETTE.COM
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