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The Last Act

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Some writers have noticed the indebtedness to the drama Shakuntala by Kalidasa, the 3rd century playwright, in the libretto to La Bayadère. There are even some of the same characters - the Rajah and Gamzatti. In fact, Marius Petipa's brother Lucien had staged a "Saccountala" in Paris. The question of a temple dancer's chastity would have to depend on time and place. Some sects of Hinduism make a great deal out of chastity during a period of religious service, others don't. And what they did in the 3rd century, I just don't know. Besides, the original play was set in Ancient India - even before Kalidasa, so that's a fairly difficult question.

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indeed, manhattnik! :( i thought of her as driven by that-which-must-be-done, like a wili who regardless of what her feelings would have been when alive, has to dance men to death.

I am coming to this (and other Bayadere) threads very late, but the music and the dancing have only recently come to fascinate me.

There have been several analogies made between Giselle and Nikaya along class lines. What I have not yet seen is the notion that Nikaya, as a temple dancer, is holy to the gods, maybe even equal to the Rajah's caste in a parallel religious caste structure. She is clearly the principal temple dancer, after all. In which case, the gods' vengeance makes a kind of sense whether or not she broke a vow of chastity.

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Thinking of Nikiya, I do not find her other than betrayed and forsaken, I understood it was the revenge of the Gods, who brought down the temple after Gamzetti and Solor are married. He pledged over the sacred fire his love for the Temple Dancer, and pays the

final price for his actions. He dreams of the Kingdom of Shades in a drug invoked state, that Nikiya has forgiven him, does he awake from his dream, or is the destruction of the temple a premanition of what is to come?

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here's the post i've had trouble getting posted:

it's perhaps useful to remember that the opium-induced dream was a latter addition to the action of LA BAYADERE.

for the end of Act 3, sc. 4, entitled The Appearance of the Shade in Solor's room in the rajah's palace, the original 1877 libretto includes no opium; instead, it concludes as Solor falls unconscious on the divan. A dream comes over him and he falls asleep, never ceasing to think about the shade [of Nikiya who has appeared in his room].

The next scene, no. 5, The Kingdom of the Shades concludes with text that says: If you do not betray me,' Nikya continues, 'your spirit shall find rest here, in this kingdom of the shades.

Scene 6 is entitled Solor's awakening. - these libretto translations are taken from Roland John Wiley's A CENTURY OF RUSSIAN BALLET.

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until Natalia Makarova's 1980 production for American Ballet Theater, more or less, all productions of LA BAYADERE since the 1920s ended w/the Shades sc.

since 1980 some have tried to recapture the long last final act. Grigorovich added a little destruction of the temple finale to his staging in recent years.

but, except for the 'reconstruction' of the 1899-ish version for the Kirov by Vikharev, Soviet/Russian productions have opted to end the ballet with the Shades.

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Wiley's translation of the 1877 libretto for LA BAYADERE reads: "Apotheosis: Through the rain, the peaks of the Himalayas are visible. Nikia's shade glides through the air; she is triumphant, and tenderly looks at her beloved Solo, who is at her feet."

descriptions of just how, or if, the staging itself worked to depict this scene don't seem readily available in English, or perhaps even in Russian, for that matter.

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Wiley has an introductory entry on LA BAYADERE, same same study that includes the full libretto, in his translation, in A CENTURY OF RUSSIAN BALLET, DOCUMENTS AND EYEWITNESS ACCOUNTS, 1810-1910 (Oxford, 1990).

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