The other day, I returned to the Royal Opera House for the Royal Ballet's La Bayadère. This time, I brought Hubby Dearest along: he is not exactly a ballet aficionado, but I knew he would like this one, as it is perhaps the most opulent and diverse of classical ballets, and even the lesser ballet fans are bound to be mesmerized by Petipa's choreography.
If you've never seen La Bayadère, let me tell you a bit more: the ballet is about the doomed love story between Prince Solor and temple dancer Nikiya (the Bayadère of the title)... Both seem destined to get married and have lots of gorgeous pirouetting children together, but that's not meant to be. There's a few complications: first, the high Brahmim who wants Nikiya for himself of course, and then Solor's betrothal to Gamzatti, the beautiful daughter of the Rajah. Ok so that's for the plot.
Basically this is, in pure 19th century style, a Bollywood-like soap opera made for the ballet scene. But what a perfect made one it is... Petipa's creation is filled with splendid solos, some soul-shaking pas de deux (that scene by the temple right at the beginning is beyond romantic) and fabulous corps de ballet pieces.
Of course everyone's favourite scene is in Act 2, The Kingdom of Shades. Solor dreams about Nikiya's ghost, and it's multiplied into 24 shades. I was a bit apprehensive beforehand as this is a scene that can sometimes go horribly wrong (think wobbly arabesques, limbs askew etc), but I was positively surprised after reading some pretty dismal critics. I'm definitely thrilled we went!
La Bayadère is at the ROH until May 22, catch it quick! Book tickets here: La Bayadère at the Royal Opera House.