It's a sunny summer day. In the garden in front of the castle Prince Ziegfried's friends and courtiers are celebrating the Prince's coming of age, they are dancing and enjoying themselves. The court jester, everybody's favourite, is in the limelight of attention. The Queen arrives followed by her suite, she gives her son a medallion as a symbol of maturity as well as an crossbow as a symbol of a warrior.
The happy Prince is dancing with his friends and courtiers.
It is getting dark and Ziegfried is left alone with his dreams. The Prince's friends arrive together with the court jester, they invite the Prince to go hunting with them.
The action takes place on the bank of a lake. A flock of swans is swimming by in the evening mist. The Prince watches the birds turn into young girls. Odette – the queen of the swans tells Ziegfried about the sorcery of the evil magician Rotbart who has turned Odette and her friends into swans. The evil spell can only be broken if a young man who has never given a vow of love to another girl falls in love with her. Ziegfried is enchanted by Odette's beauty and gives her a vow of eternal love and fidelity.
ACT II Scene 3
A big gala ball is in full swing at the Queen's castle. At the ball, in accordance with his mother's wish, Ziegfied is to choose himself a fiancée. The prince dances with different young girls and his mother asks him to make his choice. The Prince is at a loss. Suddenly there appears a mysterious knight with a beautiful girl. Bewitched by the girl's beauty and her likeness to Odette, Ziegfried announced her to be his fiancée and gives her a vow of eternal love. The evil wins and celebrates a victory. A white swan appears in the window and throws itself against the window glass. The frustrated Prince is in despair and runs away from the castle.
It is night. At the lake the swan-girls are waiting for Odette. Odette returns and tells them about Ziegfried's betrayal. She is in despair.
Rotbart triumphs, the evil sorcery wins a victory. Suddenly Ziegfried appears and fights with Rotbart. True and selfless love breaks the evil charms. The evil is defeated. All-powerful love wins.
Dawn is breaking. The swans are turning into girls and together with Odette and Ziegfried they set out on the road towards a new life.