La Bayadère, Ludwig Minkus
The mysticism, musicality, and sensuality of La Bayadère have been charming generations of classical lovers ever since the ballet’s smashing premiere on 4 February 1877 at the Imperial Bolshoi Kamenny Theatre in St Petersburg. Composer Ludwig Minkus and choreographer extraordinaire Marius Petipa’s combined creative forces ensured the work’s lasting success. Like many other beloved ballets, La Bayadère has not only enjoyed a long life across the stages of the world, it has also received a number of choreographic refreshments. Thus, Minkus and Petipa both created something uniquely beautiful on their own terms and continued inspiring creators long after their time to revisit and reimagine their collaborative masterpiece. Teatro dell’Opera di Roma presents a version of the magnetic La Bayadère this season with the powerful music of Minkus and stunning dance sequences based on Petipa’s original choreography.
La Bayadère, or The Temple Dancer, revolved around the tragic fate of lovers Nikiya and Solor. The ritual dancer and the warrior have sworn their hearts to each other, but powerful political figures have other plans. The local ruler, Rajah Dugmanta of Golconda, is eyeing Solor to be his son-in-law, and the High Brahmin is determined to make Nikiya his own wife. In a shocking plot twist, Nikiya inadvertently agrees to dance at Solor’s engagement to Gamzatti, the Rajah’s daughter. The two have a violent confrontation soon before the festivities begin, and Gamzatti decides Nikiya must die. One of the most memorable death scenes in the history of ballet ensues, and tragedy slowly creeps up on each of our protagonists, leading to a shocking finale.
The work of Minkus and librettist Sergei Khudekov has inspired many talented choreographers, starting with La Bayadère’s originator Marius Petipa, to dive into the mystical world of dancers, priests, warriors, and curses. On the wings of the intensive and emotional score, the ballet delivers a stunning experience. Audiences at Teatro Costanzi in Rome are in for a memorable trip into classical ballet’s treasure vault.