Ludwig Minkus

La Bayadère

ballet in three acts

Age 12+

Dates

Libretto: Marius Petipa, Sergey Khudekov
Choreography: Marius Petipa
Staging: Pavel Stalinsky
Musical director: Honoured Art Worker of the Republic of Belarus Nikolai Koliadko
Designer: People's Artist of Russia, laureate of the State Prize of the Republic of Belarus Vyacheslav Okunev
Conductor: Ivan Kostyakhin

Running time: 2 hours 40 minutes with two intervals
Premiere: 20 April 2005


12

ACT 1

Scene 1

Night time. The Sacred Forest. The military commander Solor is hunting near the Palace where his beloved bayadère Nikiya lives. Solor entrusts his devoted fakir Magavedee to let Nikiya know that he will be waiting for her when darkness falls near the Palace. The Great Brahmin, his priests and the bayadères, the temple dancers, open the Fire Worship Festival. The culmination of the festivities is the dance of the beautiful bayadère Nikiya.

The passionate love for Nikiya makes the Great Brahmin forget about his rank and celibacy. He promises all the riches of India for her love. But Nikiya rejects his ardent declaration of love.

The rite is over. The holy procession returns back to the Temple. Nikiya is impatiently waiting for her beloved. The fakir Magavedee is standing guard over the secret meeting of Nikiya and Solor. Solor urges Nikiya to run away. Far away from this place, where they are unknown, where they will be happy. The bayadère agrees. At the Sacred Fire site the military commander vows everlasting love and fidelity to her. Unseen by the lovers, the Great Brahmin witnesses their meeting and swears revenge.

Scene 2

The Palace of the Rajah. The Rajah Dugmanta announces to his daughter Gamzatti that she is to marry the noble warrior Solor. Gamzatti is thrilled. In spite of the fact that Solor is amazed by the beauty of Gamzatti, he cannot forget the bayadère, he has vowed to be faithful to her. But he has no right to refuse the high honour of becoming Gamzatti`s husband.

Nikiya is invited to the Palace for the rite of Gamzatti`s engagement. The Great Brahmin also appears at the Palace. Plotting to ruin his rival, he tells the Rajah about the love between Nikiya and Solor. Dugmanta is enraged but he doesn`t change his mind. Solor is to be his daughter`s husband and the bayadère must die. The Great Brahmin is astounded by such a denouement, he threatens the Rajah with the wrath of gods, but Dugmanta is adamant.

Having overheard the conversation, Gamzatti sends the slave girl off to fetch Nikiya and as if by chance shows her the portrait of her fiancé. Nikiya is in anguish: Solor loves only her and will belong only to her. Gamzatti threatens Nikiya and demands that she should give Solor up, but the bayadère would rather die than part with her beloved. In a fit of anger Nikiya raises a dagger over her rival, but the slave girl appears just in time to grasp her hand. The Rajah`s daughter vows vengeance: Nikiya will die!

ACT II

The square in front of the Rajah`s palace. The celebration in honour of Gamzatti`s and Solor`s engagement is under way. Nikiya has to dance at this event, but she cannot conceal her grief. During Nikiya`s ritual dance she is bestowed a basket of flowers on Gamzatti`s order. Nikiya takes the basket and continues the dance. All of a sudden a snake crawls out of the flowers and bites the bayadère to death. This is Gamzatti`s revenge.
The Great Brahmin offers an antidote to Nikiya that will save her. Faithful to her love, Nikiya pushes the flask away and throws herself into the arms of Solor. Dying, she reminds her beloved about his oath.

ACT III

An opium den. Inconsolable Solor cannot find peace. He is torn by remorse. To distract him, Magavedee summons a snake charmer. Solor drifts into slumber to the sounds of the flute.

A Kingdom of Shades materializes before him from the darkness. A long succession of dancing shades drifts from mountain cliffs. The apparition of the slain bayadère is among them. She calls for Solor…

Bayadère (from the Portuguese “bailadeira” – dancer): an Indian temple dancer who participates in religious ceremonies and festivities.


THIRD ACT
An Opium divan. Disconsolate Solor can find peace nowhere. Repentance torments him. Magavedee calls the snake charmer, trying to the youth off his gloomy thoughts. With the music of the flute he falls into the world of sweet dreams. The kingdom of shades appears from the dark. Long chain of dancing shades comes down from the mountain ledges. The light vision of the deceased Bayadere slides among them. She calls for Solor
Historical reference
«La Bayad`re» the ballet by L.Minkus was first staged in the St. Petersburg`s Mariinsky Theatre by the prominent choreographer Marius Petipa. It is considered one of the best productions of the world classical ballet heritage. This performance has summed up the findings and gains of the world ballet theatre and has become a landmark for a whole period in the ballet history. It is here that the dramaturgy got its perfect forms of poetic transformation in dance. Many a time the ballet was staged on the theatrical boards of the world, but nevertheless it typically belongs to St. Petersburg, as it demands crystal purity of dance, refined generosity of form and highest performance culture, both dancing and acting.
The literary sources of «La Bayad`re» are the drama «Shakuntala» by the ancient Indian poet Kalidasa and Goethe`s «The God and the Temple Dancer». The action takes place in Ancient India. The heroes are Brahmins, Fakirs, Dancers (bayad`res) who lived in the Temple since early childhood and who took part in the religious ceremonies. At the heart of the plot lies the all-consuming love of the Bayad`re Nikiya, faithfulness and betrayal, sincerity and treachery…
Making use of the exotic plot, Marius Petipa has expanded a series of classical dances exquisitely ornamented with elements of oriental plastics (the «Indian dance», the «Dance with the snake»). The fantastic scene «The Kingdom of Shades» from the third act even till now remains a masterpiece, unsurpassed in beauty and harmony and it is often performed as a separate concert piece.
During its long stage history the choreography of the ballet underwent inevitable, at times considerable alterations. The XX century choreographers were anxious either to restore the original, or to create new versions as Petipa?s masterpiece gradually slipped away.
Almost 130 years have passed since the first staging of the ballet «La Bayad`re», but it is still among the favourite performances both with the choreographers and with the dancers. It still attracts and excites the spectators with the emotional expressiveness of the music, the dramatic plot and the beauty of the choreography. «La Bayad`re» stands in the repertoire of the Biggest theatres of the world, including the Mariinsky Theatre in St. Petersburg, Bolshoi Theatre in Moscow, the Royal Opera House «Covent Garden» in London, New-York Ballet Theatre, Grand Opera in Paris, etc. masterpiece gradually slipped away.
«La Bayad`re» was staged in Belarus only once, in 1959. Those days the main role of the bayad`re Nikiya was played by the dazzling dancers, People`s Artists of Belarus Lidiya Ryazhenova and Nina Davidenko.

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