The magnum opus of Marius Petipa, one of the greatest choreographers of ballet history, consists of a libretto by Sergey Khudekov and compositions by Ludwig Minkus. With respect to the requirements of contemporary audiences and to the original, he portrays a tragic romance and introduces Javier Torres to National Theatre audiences.
As children, valiant soldier Solor and temple dancer (bayader) Nikiya promise to love each other forever and to be faithful through adulthood. However, Solor’s father, Rajah, decides that his son shall marry a princess, Gamzatti, and a Brahmin (a high priest) who loves Nikiya, tells Rajah about the young couple’s pledge. The Brahmin’s plan, however, backfires: attempting to set father against son, he succeeds in making Rajah want Nikiya removed instead. She is supposed to dance at a wedding, not knowing that it is actually Gamzatti’s marriage to Solor, who – especially thanks to his mother’s influence – has finally consented to it. Nikiya is poisoned at the wedding, and although the Brahmin dashes in with the antidote and Solor regains his love for her, she would rather die.
La Bayadère is a spectacular performance in which the story of a few characters is set against a rich narrative background. On the stage, the palace interiors, depicted very precisely, are replaced by spectacular mountain scenery, and a simple black background. From it a series of ballerina bayaders, dressed in tender white, slowly emerge in a breathtaking image of the second act. The costume design underlines the atmosphere: Nikiya’s elegiac and fragile expression and the majesty of the mighty figures and the wedding extravaganza, reflected by the lavish colours of the dancers. In addition, the dancing oscillates between extravagant and bombastic numbers expressing the capricious character of the aristocrats, and the very intimate ballet of dejected Nikiya and torn Solor. The magnificent blend of movement and art culminates in images in which the flames of angry gods devour Rajah’s palace, and the phantom of the dejected Nikiya summons Solor into the underworld. There, the promise of the lovers will ultimately be fulfilled. After being enthralled with the astounding creations seen throughout the performance, you will be overcome by the melancholy thrill of a love that goes beyond the transient nature of the earthly world.
The opera is performed in two acts and the singers are accompanied by the Orchestra of the State Opera.