Raymonda

Ballet by Alexander Glazunov

Credits

Music by Alexander Glazunov
Libretto by Lidia Pashkova and Marius Petipa, revised version by Eldar Aliev, based on a medieval legend
Choreography by Marius Petipa (1898), revised version by Konstantin Sergeyev (1948) and Eldar Aliev (2023) with choreographic fragments by Fyodor Lopukhov (1922)
Character Dances adaptation by Elena Bazhenova (Mariinsky Theatre)
Set design by Simon Virsaladze
Costume design by Vyacheslav Okunev
Lighting design by Eldar Aliev
Assistant Lighting Designer: Sergei Churov

SYNOPSIS

Act I
Scene 1
Inhabitants of the mediaeval castle of Countess Sybille de Doris are in preparation for the celebration of a name day of Countess’s niece Raymonda. The castle is in high spirits. The Seneschal announces the arrival of Sybille and Raymonda. Their appearance attracts everyone's attention.

In the midst of the feast Jean de Brienne enters the hall together with an armourbearer; the knight is Raymonda’s bridegroom and once again he declares his infinite love for his beloved. King Andrew II suddenly appears; accompanied by knights, he lets those present know Jean de Brienne’s participation in the forthcoming military expedition.

Having sworn to crush the enemy, Jean de Brienne says goodbye to beautiful Raymonda and leaves the castle, accompanied by other knights.

The feast is shadowed by the occurring events. Upset and exhausted, Raymonda is surrounded by her lady friends Henrietta and Clémence and troubadours Bernard and Béranger. The friends try to dispel Raymonda’s sorrow, but she would prefer that they just leave her alone. Thinking of Jean de Brienne, Raymonda falls asleep.

Scene 2
Raymonda dreams that she is again with her beloved, surrounded by celestial maidens in a beautiful land unknown to her.

Scene 3
Suddenly Jean de Brienne disappears, and Raymonda finds herself inside a tent. Instead of Raymonda’s beloved, the gloomy and threatening Saracen sheikh appears, who pursues her. Raymonda is shocked and falls, unconscious.

Scene 4
The first light comes to Raymonda’s sleeping room to call her amid her friends and noble ladies. Raymonda realizes that it was just a dream.

Act II
Scene 5
The feast is under way in the inner courtyard of the castle of Countess Sybille de Doris. The Countess and Raymonda are surrounded by an entourage. Raymonda cannot stop thinking about her beloved; she impatiently awaits his arrival from the military expedition.

Among other guests, there comes the eastern sheikh Abderakhman, whom Raymonda anxiously recognizes as the Saracen who appeared in her dream on the night of celebrating her name day. Abderakhman is struck by Raymonda’s extraordinary beauty and makes a passionate declaration of his love. Raymonda refuses to smile to him. He orders his glittering retinue to amuse Raymonda and her guests. Having been infatuated with Raymonda, Abderakhman attempts to abduct her with the help of his faithful servant Ali and vassals.

Suddenly Jean de Brienne returns from the military expedition, accompanied by noble knights, and shields Raymonda from being abducted by Abderakhman.

Following Jean de Brienne and the knights, King Andrew II arrives to the castle and becomes a witness of the occurring events. The King offers to settle the dispute by duel. While dueling, Abderakhman receives a deadly wound from Jean de Brienne’s sword. Abderakhman’s retinue leaves the castle in panic, bringing the sheikh’s body away.

Raymonda and Jean de Brienne are again together and happy.

Act III
Scene 6
The castle celebrates gorgeously Raymonda and Jean de Brienne’s marriage. Countess Sybille and King Andrew II bless the newly married couple.

About the production

Marius Petipa created Raymonda when he was in his eightieth year, and it was one of his late grand ballets. Its simple story, based on a medieval chivalrous legend, brought together everything that was the best of the best that Petipa had done in the course of his long career as a choreographer in Russia. Here there is a ballet and detective plot including dreams, kidnappings and joyous releases, a complex and varied ballerina role and a conflict between the male roles – the refined and classical Jean de Brienne and the passionate and pointedly typical oriental Abderakhman, the vast number of characters, meaning a similar number of dancers engaged in the ballet, the colourful character dances and, arguably, Petipa's main pride and glory – the fully-developed dance scenes of classical ensembles.
The composer, on the other hand, began his ballet career with
Raymonda. The production was staged when Alexander Glazunov was in his thirty-third year. In this work the composer, new to the ballet genre, so ardently used his experience as a symphonist and maestro of vivid and colourful orchestral music that his subsequent dance works (The Trial of Damis and The Seasons) never cast a shadow over the glory of Raymonda, and it is this ballet that remains in history as perhaps Glazunov's most famous work.
Its conflict is based on the contrast of two different worlds: the serene and knightly noble idyll of Raymonda's medieval castle meets the Barbarian world of ungovernable passions embodied by Abderakhman and his suite. The choreographer resolved the musical contrast by juxtaposing the expressive nature of Abderakhman's gestures, the temperamental character dances of his suite and the classical dance of Raymonda's world. The role of Raymonda is one of the most demanding in the classical ballet repertoire. In this masterpiece by Marius Petipa, the ballerina performs five variations as well as incredibly beautiful adagios, the Pas d’action and the Grand pas. Alexander Glazunov did not stint in the musical richness of the female protagonist, accentuating each of her variations with different emotional colours. Choreographically, too, she reveals new sides to her character in the solo variations. In Act I Raymonda is light-heartedly youthful, in the scene
The Dream her variation is songfully dreamy, in Act II she is ceremonially triumphant, and in Act III she alone is coquettish and different, performed to piano solo, meditative. Together this all creates the image of a heroine who embodies the many facets of womanhood. That's on the one hand. And, on the other, it is a role that showcases a virtuoso ballerina fully armed with universal technique and grace, beauty of line and absolute skill, a ballerina the likes of whom Marius Petipa sought throughout his creative career and an anthem for whom was to be his "swan song", Raymonda.
Olga Makarova

Premiere: 7 January 1898, Mariinsky Theatre
Premiere of Konstantin Sergeyev´s version: 30 April 1948, Kirov Theatre of Opera and Ballet
Premiere at the Primorsky Stage of the Mariinsky Theatre: 26 May 2023, Vladivostok

Running time: 2 hours 40 minutes
The performance has two intervals

Age category: 6+
Raymonda
on the playbill
29 April 2024, 19:00
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