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Music Ludwig Minkus
Realisation John Lanchbery
Choreography and staging Rudolf Nureyev, after Marius Petipa (ONP,1992)
Sets Ezio Frigerio
Costumes Franca Squaciapino
Lights Vinicio Cheli
With the Etoiles, Premiers Danseurs and Corps de Ballet de l’Opéra national de Paris With the Orchestre de l’Opéra national de Paris Musical direction: Fayçal KAROUI
Rudolf Nureyev: Born in 1938 in the USSR, he is one of the most celebrated ballet dancers of the 20th century. After graduating in 1959, Nureyev was accepted by the Kirov Ballet of Saint Petersburg and quickly went on to become a soloist. He left for the West in 1961, toured in France and then joined the Royal Opera House where he danced for many years performing ballets choreographed by Ashton, Balanchine, Béjart and Petipa. In 1980, Nureyev was hired as a dancer by the Paris Opera Ballet and then appointed Dance director in 1983. He continued to dance and to promote younger dancers until his last public appearance, in 1992, for the premiere of a new production of La Bayadère which he choreographed especially for the Paris Opera Ballet. Following the success of the production, he received the highest French cultural award: “Chevalier dans l’Ordre de la Légion d’Honneur and Commandeur des Arts et Lettres”.
Marius Petipa’s seminal work La Bayadère was first performed at the Imperial Bolshoi Kamenny Theatre in St.Petersburg in 1877 in a grandiose production portraying a mysterious India and the impossible love between the sacred dancer Nikiya and the warrior Solor. Although a major work in Russian tradition, the ballet remained unknown for a long time in the West. It was only in 1961 in the course of a Kirov appearance at the Palais Garnier that a stunned public was able to discover the third act, the Kingdom of the Shades, performed by the young Rudolf Nureyev. Nureyev dreamt for many years of restaging the entire ballet, yet it was only in 1992, at the end of both his career and his life, that he succeeded in presenting a new version of the work, at the Palais Garnier, with the help of Petipa’s notes and Minkus’ score. Ezio Frigerio’s sets and Franca Squarciapino’s costumes contributed to the success of Rudolf Nureyev’s great ballet of which the Paris Opera is the sole legatee.
La Bayadère (a “Temple Dancer”) tells the story of bayadère Nikiya and warrior Solor, who have sworn eternal fidelity to each other. The High Brahmin, however, is also in love with Nikiya. When he finds out about her relationship with Solor, he rushes to reveal this secret to the Rajah as this one has selected Solor to be the fiancé of his daughter Gamzatti. Nikiya, unaware of the arrangement, agrees to dance at the couple’s betrothal celebrations. Madly jealous, the High Brahmin, in an effort to have Solor killed and Nikiya for himself, conspires with the Rajah who, rather than becoming angry with Solor, vows that it is Nikiya who must die…
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