This is the genius Marius Petipa's rebirth in the twilight of his life. The Master created Raymonda at the age of 80 as a quintessence of his rich life. The plot is about a knight who leaves for a crusade, and his bride. Dances by Raymonda and her friends appear as an accolade to woman's beauty and the multicoloured gamut of her feelings, while the entrance of sheikh Abdu-Rakhman and his suite brings an Oriental inebriation and passion to the ballet, stirring for a moment the admirable harmony of Raymonda's world. LNO production transports the viewers into wondrous atmosphere of Middle Ages.
Preparations are being made in the luxurious castle of the Countess Sybille de Doris to celebrate the birthday of her stepdaughter, Raymonda. Fanfare announces the arrival of Jean de Brienne. He rushes to greet the birthday girl. But for the moment the young lovers’ hellos must also be a temporary farewell, as today is also the day de Brienne must lead his regiment of to join up with King Andre II of Hungary’s military campaign.
Night falls. The guests leave. Raymonda finds herself alone, thinking over the day’s events. Her thoughts and dreams are infinite because it is only here – in her imagination, her fantasy world – that she can be together with her beloved. Then the image of de Brienne disappears, only to be replaced with that of an unknown man from the East. Raymonda is overcome with worry and uncertainty over her lover’s fate. But love is stronger than anything – no one will be able to separate them.
Daylight breaks: all dreams and illusions fade away.
The military campaign has come to a victorious end. The castle bustles with guests who eagerly await the return of their heroic soldiers.
The sound of fanfare. But its tone is foreign and foreboding. It heralds the completely unexpected arrival of the wealthy Saracen leader, Abderakhman. He wishes to offer his respect and services to the lady of the castle, Sybille de Doris. Raymonda recognizes him as the strange man from her dream. This surprise guest initially flusters her, but the duties and rules of hostess are set in stone.
Abderakhman is taken aback by Raymonda’s beauty. Never before in his life has he seen such an embodiment of honesty, pride and grace – and from this moment he is filled with a great and all-encompassing love. He sees she is sad and wants to make her happy; he will do anything for her. With just a few waves of his hand, his entourage begins to hand out expensive gifts to the guests, and give a surprise performance that transports the guests to a fantastical Eastern dreamland. The castle is filled with the vibrant, grandiose and unimaginable wonders of Eastern riches.
But none of it improves Raymonda’s mood. She is still wallowing in her world of longing and waiting. Upon seeing her disinterest, Abderakhman’s feelings for her only intensify, until finally he gives the order for his men to surround the castle and kidnap Raymonda. But his plan doesn’t work – Jean de Brienne has already arrived to the castle, and Raymonda is saved.
Abderakhman must be punished for abusing the laws of hospitality, and for the disrespect he’s shown both Raymonda and Sybille de Doris. King Andre II orders the men to duel. The duel is brutal, but luck is on Jean de Brienne’s side – Abderakhman is fatally wounded.
The long-awaited moment has come – de Brienne and Raymonda’s happiness will never be threatened again. The knight asks Raymonda for her hand in marriage.
The celebration of Raymonda and Jean de Brienne’s marriage. Kind Andre II of Hungary joins the couple’s hands. The guests congratulate the newlyweds, wishing them a long life of love and happiness.