BAYADERE

BALLET IN 2-ACTS

Музыка- Людвиг Минкус
Хореография- Мариус Петипа

The ballet La Bayadere was created at the end of the 19th century by Marius Petipa, the renowned French choreographer, who (as the traditional token of respect in Russia) was referred to in the then-St. Petersburg in no other way than by name and surname – Marius Ivanovitch.



 

The plot was based on an ancient Indian legend of a tragic love between a dancer girl and a warrior.
In Petipa’s day there was a fashion for oriental culture, with artists, poets, and composers often drawing inspiration from the exotic themes of the East.
The score was written by Ludwig Minkus, a Czech composer who had spent much of his time working in Russia. For convenience, his first name was also annexed with a Russian surname.
In 1877, the joint work of Marius Ivanovitch and Ludwig Fyodorovich’s was submitted to the judgment of St. Petersburg’s refined audiences, and captured their imagination. This was quite unsurprising, though, as the performance combined exquisite music and choreography with terrific costumes and scenery, gripping plot and compelling characters, and just the right amount of magic.
Since its premier, La Bayadere has seen numerous productions both in Russia and elsewhere, and is now one of the most celebrated ballets worldwide.

Act I

Scene I

Solor, a commander, is returning from a hunt with his friends. He instructs the fakir Magedaveya to tell Nikiya, the bayadere, that he will be by the temple that night to meet her. In ceremonious pomp, the High Brahmin and his acolytes parade out of the temple. It is the beginning of the fire ritual. The fakirs and bayaderes perform sacred dances. The festivities climax with a dance by the beautiful Nikiya. The High Brahmin, smitten by her grace and charm, is unable to conceal his affections. Forgetting about his sacred office and vow of celibacy, he reveals his love to the bayadere and promises to bestow upon her all riches of India. But Nikiya is adamant to his wooing. In the meantime, Magedaveya manages to convey Solor’s message. Nikiya is overjoyed and eager to see her sweetheart. As night falls, the secret lovers meet, with the fakir watching out nearby. Unfortunately, the High Brahmin overhears their conversation. He resolves to wreak his ruthless vengeance on the bayadere for her rejection of him, and on his rival. Solor asks Nikiya to run away with him to a place far off, where no one knows them, to settle down happily. She consents, but first she wants Solor to vow his fidelity to her over the sacred fire, which he does. 

Scene II

The Rajah’s Palace. The next morning, Rajah Dugmanta announces to his daughter Gamzatti that she is betrothed to the noble warrior Solor. The latter enters and the Rajah presents him Gamzatti, declaring her his fiancée. The warrior is struck by her beauty, but the recollection of his oath to Nikiya disconcerts him. Nikiya is summoned to the palace to perform the rite of womanhood initiation for Gamzatti. Meanwhile the High Brahmin arrives with important news for the Rajah, who dismisses everyone out. On a hunch that the forthcoming conversation is to do with her marriage, Gamzatti eavesdrops on them. The High Brahmin tells the Rajah that Solor and the temple dancer are in love with each other. Although enraged, Dugmanta remains resolute to give his daughter’s hand to Solor, intending the murder of Nikiya. Having come in the hope to, rather, do away with his rival, the High Brahmin is dismayed. He tries to convince Dugmanta to punish Solor instead, reminding the Rajah that killing a temple dancer will bring the curse of Lord Vishnu. But Dugmanta is inexorable. Gamzatti tells her slave girl to bring her Nikiya. She reveals her upcoming wedding to the bayadere and asks her to dance at the ceremony. As Nikiya agrees, Gamzatti introduces her to the portrait of her fiancé, in whom the bayadere recognizes her lover. Nikiya protests: Solor is in love with her; he has sworn his love and is faithful. Gamzatti demands, and then pleads that Nikiya turns away from Solor, but the bayadere would rather die than separate from her beloved. In a fury Nikiya draws a dagger and comes at Gamzatti. The slave girl arrives just in time to stop the bayadere from killing Gamzatti. Nikiya flees. Gamzatti vows to have her killed. 

Scene III

The courtyard before the Rajah’s Palace. The betrothal celebrations begin. Nikiya is to entertain the guests with her dancing. Unable to shake off her grief and distress, she keeps her eyes fixed on her sweetheart. During the ritual dance, Nikiya is handed a basket of flowers, as arranged earlier by Gamzatti. As Nikiya dances holding the basket, a snake darts out of it and fatally bites the bayadere. That is Gamzatti’s revenge. The High Brahmin offers Nikiya an antidote to the venom in return for her love, but she chooses to die. Solor kneels over the breathless body of his devoted lover.

Act II

Solor is heartbroken and plagued with remorse. Magedaveya’s attempts to distract him from gloomy broodings are unavailing. Deep in pangs, Solor drifts into a hazy sleep which takes him to the Kingdom of the Shades, where the spirit of Nikiya reigns. On awakening, Solor rushes to the temple where he prays to the gods to forgive him. But it is too late. The goads fiercely punish Solor for betraying his love, and he plunges a dagger into his heart. The spirit of the beautiful Nikiya takes Solor high into clouds.