A young Prince Siegfried is playing with a friend outside the house. It is young girl named Princess Odette. As they play he runs to fetch his mother so she can join in the fun. Suddenly an evil sorcerer named Von Rothbart appears and captures the young Princess Odette. Prince Siegfried returns with his mother and witnesses her being captured by Von Rothbart. He tries to enlist his mother for help, but she did not see what had just happened. Prince Siegfried stands helpless as his friend is taken away into the woods.
Act 1: Scene 1– A magnificent garden before a castle
Years later, at a garden near the castle, peasants and children await for the visit of courtiers from the royal court. The Tutor and Prince Siegfried, now heir to the kingdom, join the festivities. Later, the Queen passes through and gives her son, Prince Siegfried, a crossbow as a gift and reminds him that he will need to choose a wife at the upcoming ball celebrating his birthday. Upset that he cannot marry for love, Siegfried escapes into the forest. Later that night in the forest he sees a flock of swans flying overhead and sets off in pursuit.
Act 1: Scene 2 – Lakeside
Siegfried aims his crossbow at the swans and readies himself for their landing by the lakeside. When one comes into view, however, he stops. Before him is a beautiful creature dressed in white feathers, more woman than swan. The two dance together and Siegfried realizes she is the Princess Odette who had been captured by Von Rothbart years earlier. A retinue of other captured swan-maidens join Odette in the environs of Swan Lake. Siegfried takes great pity. As they dance, he falls in love with Odette. Siegfried promises to Odette that he will swear his eternal love to her at the upcoming birthday ball —an act that will render the sorcerer’s spell powerless.
Act 2: Scene 1 – An opulent hall in the castle
The Prince returns to the castle to attend the ball. Four Princesses arrive in hopes of being chosen as his wife. Among the guests who hail from Italy, Russia and Hungary, Von Rothbart arrives in disguise with his own daughter Princess Odile, the Black Swan. She appears identical to Odette. The Prince dances with her, mistakes her identify for Odette, and proclaims to the court that he swears to make her his wife. Only a moment too late, the real Odette is revealed to Siegfried and he realizes the mistake he has made.
Act 2: Scene 2– Lakeside
The swan maidens and Odette sadly gather at the lakeside knowing they are now destined to always be swans under Von Rothbart’s power. Siegfried appears apologizing to Odette for being tricked by Von Rothbart. Odette accepts his apology yet tells him he must leave the lake and never return. Suddenly, Von Rothbart appears. Knowing Von Rothbart will kill Siegfried, Odette stays to defend the Prince. But Von Rothbart overpowers her and sends Siegfried over the cliff. Odette flies over the cliff to save Siegfried knowing now he is her true love. Meanwhile her swan maidens gather together to fight against Von Rothbart and overcome him. With Von Rothbart gone, the spell is magically removed as they all shed their feathers and return to their human form. Odette and Siegfried return together and can now live happily ever after.