La Bayadère is one of the most famous ballets of the Russian imperial stage. This creation by Marius Petipa to music by Ludwig Minkus and libretto by Sergei Khudekov saw the light in 1877 and immediately became popular. All the great ballerinas have dreamt of dancing the main part, the bayadere Nikiya. It gave a good chance to make a brilliant display of both perfection of the technique and cantilena of the dance. The tragic love story made possible for prima ballerinas of the imperial and later the Soviet ballet to display their dramatic talents in their entire splendor.
La Bayadère’s best adornment is The Kingdom of the Shades scene, which proved an example of sublime harmony on the ballet stage. The scene’s popularity might only be rivaled by, if any, that of the “white scenes” of Swan Lake. All the subsequent versions of the ballet, of which the XX century has seen quite a few, any innovations and alterations notwithstanding, have been made with the intent to keep the original Kingdom of the Shades intact to a maximum degree.
The outstanding ballerina Natalia Makarova staged her own version of La Bayadère in 1980. It is not as pompous or populous as the original yet preserves all the major qualities of the Petipa’s masterpiece. Makarova’s version proved so successful that it has been added to the armories of many a European theatre.
The music score has been made available by Musikverlage Hans Sikorski