La Bayadère
Ballet in Three Acts*

Music by Ludwig Minkus, specially arranged by John Lanchbery
Choreography by Natalia Makarova, after Marius Petipa
Production Coordinator: Dina Makarova
Scenery by PierLuigi Samaritani
Costumes by Theoni V. Aldredge
Lighting by Toshiro Ogawa
*(Act II performed alone as "The Kingdom of the Shades")

World Premiere:(of complete ballet) Imperial Ballet,
Bolshoi Kamenny Theatre, St. Petersburg, 2/4/1877
Original Cast: Ekaterina Vazem, Lev Ivanov
ABT Premiere: Metropolitan Opera House, New York, 5/21/80
Cast: Natalia Makarova (Nikiya), Anthony Dowell (Solor), Cynthia Harvey(Gamzatti), Victor Barbee (The Rajah Dugmanta), Alexander Minz (The High Brahmin), Johan Renvall (The Bronze Idol)
ABT Premiere of "The Kingdon of the Shades": New York State Theater, New York, 7/3/74
Cast: Cynthia Gregory (Nikiya), Ivan Nagy (Solor), Karena Brock, Deborah Dobson, Martine van Hamel (shades)

Act 1- 59:00
Act 2- 45:00
Act 3- 18:00

Set in the Royal India of the past, La Bayadère is a story of eternal love, mystery, fate, vengeance, and justice. The ballet relates the drama of a temple dancer (bayadère), Nikiya, who is loved by Solor, a noble warrior. She is also loved by the High Brahmin, but does not love him in return, as she does Solor.

Act I, Scene I, Outside Temple in the Sacred Forest: The High Brahmin, priests, and temple dancers are celebrating the Indian Ritual of Fire. Nikiya, the most beautiful of the bayadères, has been chosen to be consecrated the lead temple dancer. The High Brahmin declares his love for Nikiya, but is rejected by her. Nikiya meets secretly with Solor later than evening. They dance together and swear eternal love over the Sacred Fire, but are discovered by the jealous High Brahmin, who vows to kill Solor.

Act I, Scene II, A Room in the Palace: The Rajah has decided to reward Solor’s valor and decrees that the warrior will marry his daughter, Gamzatti. Gamzatti falls in love with Solor’s portrait, and when they meet, he is overwhelmed by her beauty. Even though he has sworn eternal love to Nikiya, he cannot defy the wishes of the Rajah and agrees to marry Gamzatti. The High Brahmin informs the Rajah of Nikiya and Solor’s secret love, hoping that the Rajah will do away with Solor. Instead, the Rajah decides to kill Nikiya. The conversation is overhead by Gamzatti, who summons Nikiya to her rooms and attempts to bribe Nikiya to give up Solor. Refusing, Nikiya frantically attempts to kill Gamzatti. Nikiya flees and Gamzatti swears to destroy her.

Act I, Scene III, The Garden of the Palace: At the betrothal of Solor and Gamzatti, Nikiya is commanded to dance. Gamzatti presents her with a basket of flowers which Nikiya believes to be from Solor, and which conceals a deadly snake. Nikiya is bitten, and when Solor leaves with Gamzatti, she refuses the proffered antidote and dies.

Act II, The Tent of Solor:
Solor, grief stricken and under the influence of opium, dreams of being reunited with Nikiya in the Kingdom of the Shades. Awakening, he realizes that he must prepare to marry Gamzatti.

Act III, The Temple: The vision of Nikiya remains with Solor as the wedding ceremony begins at the Sacred Temple. As Solor and Gamzatti say their vows and are blessed by the High Brahmin, the vengeance of the gods is unleashed, and the temple and all the celebrants are destroyed. Nikiya and Solor are once again united in eternal love.

The full length La Bayadère received its World Premiere by the Imperial Ballet at the Bolshoi Kamenny in St. Petersburg on February 4, 1877. The dancers were Ekaterina Vazem (Nikiya) and Lev Ivanov (Solor). The mime role of Solor was performed by Pavel Gerdt.

La Bayadère, Act II (The Kingdom of the Shades) was first performed in the West by the Leningrad Kirov Ballet in 196l. Rudolf Nureyev, with choreography after Petipa, produced the Kingdom of the Shades scene for The Royal Ballet in 1963. Both the Bolshoi Ballet and the National Ballet of Canada perform this extract from the complete ballet.

Natalia Makarova first staged The Kingdom of the Shades scene for American Ballet Theatre in 1974 and it received its premiere at the State Theater in New York City on July 3 of that year, danced by Cynthia Gregory (Nikiya) and Ivan Nagy (Solor). She subsequently produced and choreographed the complete version (in three acts) for American Ballet Theatre in 1980, and the Western World Premiere of the complete ballet was given on May 21 of that year. The dancers were Natalia Makarova (Nikiya), Anthony Dowell (Solor), and Cynthia Harvey (Gamzatti).

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