Set and costume design: Simon Virsaladze
World premiere: 7 January 1898, Mariinsky Theatre
Premiere of Konstantin Sergeyev`s version: 30 April 1948, Kirov Theatre, Leningrad
Raymonda is a ballet, originally staged in 3 Acts-4 Scenes with Apotheosis, choreographed by Marius Petipa to the music of Alexander Glazunov (his 57th opus). First presented by the Imperial Ballet at the Imperial Mariinsky Theatre on January 7/19 , 1898 (Julian/Gregorian calendar dates) in St. Petersburg, Russia. The ballet is famous for its Grand Pas Classique known as the Grand Pas Classique Hongrois or Raymonda Pas de Dix from the third Act, which is often extracted from the full-length work to be performed independently.
The full-length Raymonda has been revived many times throughout its performance history, the most noted productions being staged by Mikhail Fokine for the Ballet Russe (1909); Anna Pavlova for her touring company (1914); George Balanchine and Alexandra Danilova for the Ballet Russe de Monte Carlo (1946); Konstantin Sergeyev for the Kirov Ballet (1948); Rudolf Nureyev for American Ballet Theatre (1975), and for the Paris Opera Ballet (1983); Yuri Grigorovich for the Bolshoi Ballet (1984); Anna-Marie Holmes (in a 2-act redaction) for the Finnish National Ballet (2004), a version which was then staged for American Ballet Theatre (2004) and the Dutch National Ballet (2005).
Preparations for Raymonda’s birthday celebrations are underway in a grand medieval castle.
The seneschal announces the arrival of foreign nobles. René de Brienne from Hungary enters the hall together with other knights and armour-bearers. He asks for the fair Raymonda’s hand in marriage on his son’s behalf and presents her with a tapestry portrait depicting Jean de Brienne.
The seneschal barely manages to announce the arrival of other guests when Abderakhman, a Saracen sheikh, decisively enters the hall. He is unable to tear his eyes away from the beauty he sees and resolves to do anything in order to have her.
The party lasts late into the night. Alone and exhausted, Raymonda sits down in a chair and falls asleep...
Raymonda dreams that the tapestry portrait comes to life; the handsome young knight draws her to himself and leads her into a castle.
Raymonda is enchanted with this beautiful world, one she has never seen before. The castle suddenly disappears, however, and in its place stands a desert tent...
... The Saracen sheikh appears before Raymonda. He is gloomy and threatening and pursues her. Overcome, Raymonda falls, unconscious...
... Waking up, Raymonda can’t understand where she is. Her eyes catch the little Arabs presented to her by Abderakhman: they revive in her memory the image of the Saracen sheikh. A ray of sunlight touches the portrait of Jean de Brienne. So it was just a dream!
The inner courtyard of the castle. Guests arrive from various countries to take part in the wedding festivities. Raymonda impatiently awaits the arrival of Jean de Brienne, but Abderakhman approaches her again and again with his passionate and ardent declarations of love. He promises her inestimable riches and supreme control of his lands, anything she desires! Having been refused, Abderakhman and his retinue attempt to abduct Raymonda, but his path is barred by Jean de Brienne. He challenges the sheikh to a duel and Abderakhman dies, slain by the knight’s sword. Raymonda welcomes her groom.
Raymonda and Jean de Brienne are happy. The castle celebrates their marriage in an explosion of merriment.