The genius choreography by Petipa has been winning over the hearts of the public for more than one hundred years. Classical dance portrays graceful Temple Dancer Nikiya– her love for the brave soldier Solor blossoms and perishes in the passions and games of the luxurious Eastern court. This is the first production of La Bayadère on the LNO stage, and the splendid and majestic peak of the season. Its challenging choreography demands a high level of artistry, which only a few ballet companies are capable of. The Latvian National Ballet is proud to join them.
The Artistic Director of the Latvian National Ballet, choreographer Aivars Leimanis: ‘The Latvian National Ballet was founded almost 90 years ago. In this time, we have staged all of the great classic ballets that still receive ovations around the world. Of course, with the exception of one – Petipa’s oriental fairy tale about love and betrayal has only been presented to our public in excerpts. The first production of La Bayadère in Riga is a unique event – a long-awaited and splendid celebration for all the friends of the ballet. The challenging choreography demands a high level of artistry, which only a few ballet companies are capable of. I am delighted that our ballet company can blossom with not just one or two, but four strong lead roles in all. I am pleased with all the artists taking part in this production. A fantastic job was done by Set Designer and Costume Designer Ināra Gauja, who has created the bright colours and unique atmosphere of India. I would like to give credit to everyone who helped La Bayadère to come to Riga.’
La Bayadère has recieved Latvijas Gāze annual award as the Best new production of the Season 2011/2012.
Young warriors led by Solor are hunting a tiger. Before entering the forest, Solor asks the fakir Magedaveya to tell Nikiya, a bayadère, that he will wait for her by the temple.
The Great Brahmin and priests leave the temple in solemn procession. The fire-worshiping festival begins. Fakirs and bayadères, the votaries of the temple, perform sacred dances. Among them is the beautiful Nikiya.
Forgetting about his ordination and vows of celibacy, the Great Brahmin tells Nikiya that he loves her and promises to place at her feet all the riches of India. Nikiya rejects the High Priest’s advances. She will never love him.
Together with other bayadères, Nikiya gives the fakirs water from the sacred pool. Without anyone noticing, Magedaveya manages to tell Nikiya that Solor is coming to see her. This makes the bayadère very happy.
At nightfall, Nikiya goes to meet her beloved. Solor proposes that they elope. The bayadère agrees, but demands that Solor first swear an oath of fidelity to her over the sacred fire. Solor does as she bids. The Great Brahmin overhears the sweethearts’ conversation. He is beside himself with rage. Bent on revenge, he appeals to the gods for help.
The next morning, Rajah Dugmanta, the head of the principality, informs his daughter Gamzatti that on this day she is to meet her betrothed. The Rajah sends for her daughter’s bridegroom-to-be. He is the brave warrior, Solor. Introducing Solor to his beautiful daughter, the Rajah announces their betrothal. Solor is struck by Gamzatti’s beauty, but, remembering the bayadère Nikiya and his vow to her, he is thrown into confusion.
Everyone is preparing for the wedding, when the Great Brahmin arrives at the palace. He has a secret to convey to Rajah Dugmanta. The Rajah commands that they be left alone together. Sensing that the Great Priest’s arrival is somehow connected to her forthcoming marriage, Gamzatti eavesdrops on the latter’s conversation with her father. The Great Brahmin tells the Rajah of Nikiya’s and Solor’s love. The Rajah is vexed with Solor, but does not change his mind about giving his daughter in marriage to the young warrior. The bayadère, to whom Solor has sworn an oath of fidelity, must die.
Such a turn of events takes the Great Brahmin, who had hoped to get rid of his rival, Solor, by surprise. He threatens the Rajah with the wrath of the gods, should the bayadère die. But Rajah Dugmanta is unrelenting.
Gamzatti orders her nurse Aiya to bring Nikiya to her. She sees that the bayadère is very beautiful and realizes that she could be a dangerous rival. The Rajah’s daughter tells Nikiya of her forthcoming wedding and invites her to dance at the ceremony. She deliberately shows her a portrait of her betrothed. Nikiya protests: Solor loves only her and has sworn to be faithful to her forever. The Rajah’s daughter demands that Nikiya give up Solor, but the bayadère would rather die than part from him. Gamzatti offers her jewels, but Nikiya rejects them indignantly – not for anything in the world will she give up her beloved. In a moment of rage, Nikiya raises her dagger against Gamzatti. The nurse holds her back. Resentful Gamzatti swears to kill Nikiya.
Sumptuous festivities are being held in the garden of the Rajah’s palace on the occasion of Gamzatti’s and Solor’s wedding. The bayadère Nikiya is also supposed to entertain the quests by dancing. She is unable to hide her grief. Her eyes are fixed on her beloved, Solor.
The fakir presents Nikiya with a basket of flowers from Solor. The bayadère’s dance is filled with happiness and overwhelming joy. But suddenly a venomous snake crawls out of the basket and bites Nikiya. She realizes that the Rajah’s daughter has taken her revenge.
The Great Brahmin promises to save Nikiya’s life if she will love him. But the bayadère remains faithful to her love for Solor. Nikiya dies. Solor is reduced to despair. Full of remorse, he follows his beloved into death.
After his death Solor finds himself in the Kingdom of the Shades – in the mysterious world, inhabited by souls of the deceased. As fragile shadows, they appear from the dark and fog to express their dreams, hopes and nostalgia. Finally Solor meets fair Nikiya among them. Now they can be together.