La Bayadère - Synopsis
Music by Ludwig Minkus
Scene One: In front of the temple
The Great Brahmin, his priests and the temple dancers, called Bayadères, assemble for the festivities of the Holy Fire. The last to appear is Nikiya, the noblest and holiest of the Bayadères. The Great Brahmin vows Love to her, but she refuses him. Solor, a rich and noble warrior of royal caste, is on his way to a hunt. While he sends on his friends he secretly awaits Nikiya. Solor and Nikiya confess their love. The Bayadère demands of him his vow of fidelity. The Great Brahmin who has witnessed the meeting of the lovers desperately swears revenge.
Scene Two: In the palace of the Rajah
The Rajah announces to his daughter Gamzatti that her wedding with Solor, to whom she has been betrothed since childhood, will soon take place. She is enchanted by Solor, but does not understand why he behave in such a restrained way towards her. After a few dancers presented some entertainment the Great Brahmin appears to confess a secret to the Rajah. He tells him of the forbidden love between Nikiya and Solor, hoping that the Rajah might dispose of Solor. Instead, to the dismay of the Great Brahmin, the Rajah in blind fury orders Nikiya`s death. Gamzatti has overheard the conversation and sends her servant Aiya to call the Bayadère. She asks Nikiya to abandon Solor, offers her jewels as a reward. Nikiya refuses and in her despair attacks Gamzatti with a dagger. Aiya stops her, she can escape, Gamzatti swears her death.
Scene Three: In the garden of the palace
The engagement festivities of Solor and Ganzatti. A grand procession opens the festivities during which Solor presents a tiger as bag. The Great Brahmin brings Nikiya as a temple dancer in honour of the ceremony. Nikiya is given a basket with flowers by Aiya, which she takes to be a secret sign of love by Solor. However, it is by the rajah and his daughter who had a snake hidden in it. When Nikiya continues to dance, embracing the small basket, the viper attacks her with a deadly bite. The Great Brahmin offers Nikiya an antidote if only she would accept his love. She refuses it and dies, urging Solor never to forget his vow of love.
Scene Four: The Kingdom of Shades
Solar, haunted by reminiscences of Nikiya, seeks oblivion in opium. He finds himself in the Kingdom of Shades, united with Nikiya who introduces him to the world of shades and reminds him of his vow of eternal fidelity. On awakening he sees his friends and the Rajah who wants to accompany him to his wedding.
Scene Five: In the temple
A ritual procession unites Gamzatti and Solor for their wedding ceremony. The dance of the lotus flowers with Solor`s friends and the dance of the Golden Idol are symbols of the good wishes for beauty and riches to the couple. In the ensuing dance of Solor with Gamzatti Nikiya shade takes part, visible only for Solor. Solor decides in favour of life, of Gamzatti. In the moment of the wedding oath to which the couple is summoned by the Great Brahmin there happens a earthquake. The temple falls in ruins and everybody is buried under them.
Scene Six: Apotheosis
In the world hereafter we see Solor, Nikiya and Gamzatti united in the picture of eternal light.