La Bayadère | Ballet Opéra Bastille Paris

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La Bayadère (The Temple Dancer; Russian: Баядеpка / Bayaderka) is a ballet, originally staged in four acts and seven tableaux by French choreographer Marius Petipa to the music of Ludwig Minkus. La Bayadère was first performed by the Imperial Ballet at the Imperial Bolshoi Kamenny Theatre in St. Petersburg, Russia, on 4 February [O.S. 23 January] 1877. A scene from the ballet, known as The Kingdom of the Shades, is one of the most celebrated excerpts in all of classical ballet.

Today, La Bayadère is presented primarily in two different versions—those productions derived from Vakhtang Chabukiani and Vladimir Ponomaryov's 1941 revival for the Kirov Ballet, and those productions derived from Natalia Makarova's 1980 version for American Ballet Theatre, which is itself derived from Chabukiani and Ponomaryov's version.

La Bayadère was the creation of the choreographer Marius Petipa, the renowned Premier maître de ballet of the St. Petersburg Imperial Theatres. The music was written by the composer Ludwig Minkus, Petipa's chief collaborator, who from 1871 until 1886 held the official post of Ballet Composer to the St. Petersburg Imperial Theatres.

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.

In his effort to have Solor killed and have Nikiya for himself, the jealous High Brahmin informs 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 exclaims that it is Nikiya who must die. Gamzatti, who has eavesdropped on this exchange, summons Nikiya to the palace in an attempt to bribe the bayadère into giving up her beloved. As their rivalry intensifies, 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. Nikiya flees in horror at what she has 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 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 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.
Ekaterina Vazem costumed as Nikiya for Act II of La Bayadère. St. Peterbsurg, 1877.
Lev Ivanov costumed as Solor for Act I of La Bayadère. St. Petersburg, 1877.

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 opulence and supreme order of the shades of other bayadères (in the original production of 1877 this scene took place in an illuminated enchanted palace in the sky). 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.

Program and cast

Paris Opera - Opéra Bastille

Opéra Bastille
A great modern theatre
The Opéra Bastille is the work of the Canadian-Uruguayan architect Carlos Ott, who was chosen in November 1983 after an international competition that attracted entries from some 1,700 architects. The theatre was inaugurated on July 13th 1989.
Its architecture is marked by transparent façades and by the use of identical materials for both the interiors and the exteriors.
With its 2,700 acoustically consistent seats, its unique stage facilities, its integrated scenery, costume and accessory workshops, as well as its numerous work areas and rehearsal rooms, the Opera Bastille is a great modern theatre.
Stage facilities

Orchestra pit, mobile and adjustable, can be covered; at its largest it can house 130 musicians
Main stage, 45 m high, 30 m wide, 25 m deep, made up of 9 elevators allowing several levels to be created and supported by three main elevators, which bring scenery up from below stage
Clearing zones, 4 storage areas with the same dimensions as the stage
Backstage area, with its scenery turntable
Circulation area, scenery temporarily stored between the stage, workshops and rehearsal stage
Rehearsal stage, the Salle Gounod, with its orchestra pit and dimensions identical to those of the main stage

 

The building

Area at ground level: 22,000 m²
Floor area: 160,000 m²
Total height: 80 m (including 30 m below street level)

 

The auditoriums
The main auditorium

Area: 1,200 m², 5% of the total for the building
Dimensions: 20 m high, 32 m deep, 40 m wide
Number of seats: 2,703
Materials: blue granite from Lannelin in Brittany, pearwood from China, glass ceiling

 

The amphitheatre

Area: 700 m²
Depth : 21.4 m
Number of seats : 450
Materials: white breccia marble from Verona, staff ceiling

 

The Studio

Area: 280 m²
Depth: 19,5 m
Number of seats: 237
Materials: white breccia marble from Verona and pearwood

 

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