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Raymonda at Paris Opera Ballet 2008


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A review of the Paris Opera Ballet in “Raymonda” by Roslyn Sulcas in The New York Times.
All of these elements are present in Rudolf Nureyev’s opulent version of “Raymonda” for the Paris Opera Ballet, which opened at the Palais Garnier on Monday night, and there are certainly plenty of wonderful moments. Unlike other adaptations of the ballet, which tend to streamline the thin and irrational story (what is the King of Hungary doing in Provence?), Nureyev, characteristically, made it bigger. There are extra variations, notably for the Saracen chief Abderakhman (called Abderam here), as well as new ensemble dances and stage action.

The production, designed by Nicholas Georgiadis, is sumptuous: all glowing greens, golds, rusts and reds, with layers of textured hanging fabrics. Its Orientalism is of a piece with the action, which centers on the young Raymonda, betrothed to the knight Jean de Brienne (nephew of the King of Hungary), but courted by the dangerously attractive Abderam.

"Saracens, Hungarians and Knights Who Just Happen to Be in Provence" Review Heading/

I find Ms Sulcas review of the Paris Opera somewhat sour or begrudging and it makes me think that if you are more at home with a regular attendance at small scale and somewhat off the wall performances of artisan modern dance, perhaps reviews of academic classical ballet should be left to reviewers who can write as a more informed connoisseur.

Her review begins, “Has there ever been a successful — which is to say not boring — version of the full-length ballet “Raymonda”?

I would say yes there have been. Both Kirov and Bolshoi productions in which I have witnesses near legendary performances and of course Nureyev’s production for the Australian Ballet which I saw led by Dame Margot Fonteyn and Mr Nureyev.

This reviewer goes on to say, “Unlike other adaptations of the ballet, which tend to streamline the thin and irrational story (what is the King of Hungary doing in Provence?)…” The answer is, historical licence on the part of the scenarist in naming of the characters in this ballet. However, at least three mediaeval Hungarian Kings had close links with Provence(, King Ladislav IV married Beatrice de Provence King Ladislas the magnanimous was titular King of Hungary and titular Count of Provence. ). Jean de Brienne is a mediaeval king who led crusades against Muslim nations and how a Muslim appears in the ballet is again an historical figure Abdul Rahman Al Ghafiqi who invaded France reaching Provence was also known as Abdderrahman. Mel Johnson touched on the historicity of the characters in this ballet in a post some years ago.

“Nureyev’s first version, in 1964 was not made for the Royal Ballet main company as implied in this review by the title used, but instead, was staged by the very separate Royal Ballet Touring Company being a full length production minus a number of mime scenes and was first seen in Birmingham, England and then at Spoleto and Baalbeck. His second full length version was not made for the Zurich Ballet in 1972 as suggested by Ms Sulcas, but for the Australian Ballet in a re-staging and re-designed version in 1965 which was seen in London. The Zurich Ballet production was in fact, his third version and for the reviewer to state that the Raymonda in this production, “… was for the formidably strong Marcia Haydée.” is a mis-description of the talent of that extraordinary and historic dance-actress.


"Raymonda: was first seen America In 1915 at the Century Opera House, New York in a two-act (after Petipa) version by Ivan Khlustin for Anna Pavlova and her company.

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I have heard the Paris Opera Ballet's Raymonda was videotaped in 2008 and shown on french television, and it is supposed to be released on dvd, but there is some sort of hold up. Do you know why there is such a long wait for this video? Judging from YouTube excerpts it is a truly lavish production. No expenses spared with the sets and costumes!

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