Saturday, November 29, 2008

La Bayadére

Ballet night on Thursday:
La Bayadére
= Temple dancer
- beautiful, classic ballet!
- the dance of The Golden Man was fabulous!
Had a great seat:
Stalls left centre row 3 seat 7
Magyar Állami Operaház
VI Bp, Andrássy út 22.
Petipa's La Bayadère (meaning The Temple Dancer or The Temple Maiden) tells the story of the Bayadère Nikiya and the warrior Solor, who have sworn eternal fidelity to one another. The High Brahmin, however, is also in love with Nikiya and learns of her relationship with Solor. Moreover, the Rajah Dugmanta of Golconda has selected Solor to be the fiancé of his daughter Gamzatti (or Hamsatti, as she is known in the original production), and Nikiya, unaware of the arrangement, agrees to dance at the couple's betrothal celebrations.

Lev Ivanov costumed as Solor for Act I of La Bayadère. St. Petersburg, 1877.
The jealous High Brahmin—in an effort to have Solor killed and have Nikiya for himself—tells the Rajah that the warrior has already vowed love to the Bayadère over a sacred fire. But the High Brahmin's plan backfires when, rather than becoming angry with Solor, the Rajah vows that Nikiya should be the one who must die. Gamzatti, who has been eavesdropping on this exchange, summons Nikiya to the palace in an attempt to bribe the Bayadère into giving up her beloved. As their rivalry ensues, Nikiya picks up a dagger in a fit of rage and attempts to kill Gamzatti, only to be stopped in the nick of time by Gamzatti's aya (or maid). Nikiya then flees in horror at what she had almost done. As did her father, Gamzatti vows that the Bayadère must die.
At the betrothal celebrations Nikiya performs a somber dance while playing her veena. She is then given a basket of flowers which she believes are from Solor, and so begins a frenzied and joyous dance. Little does she know that the basket is from the Rajah and Gamzatti, who have concealed beneath the flowers a venomous snake. The Bayadère then holds the basket too close and the serpent charges forth and bites her on the neck. The High Brahmin offers Nikiya an antidote to the poison, but she chooses death rather than life without her beloved Solor.
In the next scene the depressed Solor smokes opium. In his dream-like euphoria he has a vision of Nikiya's shade (or spirit) in a nirvana among the star-lit mountain peaks of the Himalayas called The Kingdom of the Shades. Here, the lovers reconcile among the supreme opulence and order of the shades of other Bayadères (in the original production of 1877 this scene took place in an illuminated enchanted palace). When Solor awakes, preparations are underway for his wedding to Gamzatti.
In the temple where the wedding is to take place the shade of Nikiya haunts Solor during his dances with Gamzatti. When the High Brahmin joins the couple's hands in marriage, the Gods take revenge for Nikiya's murder by destroying the temple and all of its occupants.
In an apotheosis the shades of both Nikiya and Solor are reunited and spirited off toward the Himalayas

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