Raymonda Ballet – The History And The Story

The Raymonda Ballet is a Russian ballet performed in three acts and four scenes. It was choreographed by Marius Petipa to music by Alexander Glazunov.

Raymonda was first presented by the Imperial Ballet at the Imperial Mariinsky Theater on the 19th of January 1898 in St Petersburg, Russia.

The Raymonda Ballet was specially created for the benefit performance of the Italian ballerina Pierina Legnani, who created the title role.

Today the Raymonda Ballet is still performed by many ballet companies throughout the world to choreography that is derived primarily from the Kirov Ballet’s 1948 revival as staged by Konstantin Sergeyev.

Marius Petipa’s choreography was greatly altered and in some cases changed entirely, especially in the dances for the corps de ballet. This revised choreography is the version most used today.

Here is the Raymonda Ballet in its entirety.

 Raymonda Ballet Synopsis

Scene 1: Raymond’s Feast

Raymonda

At the castle of Doris, people are getting ready for the celebrations of the young Countess Raymonda’s name day.

Raymonda’s Aunt Sybille chides those who are present, including Raymonda’s two friends Henrietta and Clemence and the two trouble makers Beranger and Bernard for their idleness and passion for dancing.

She tells them of the legend of the White Lady who is the protector of the castle who warns the Doris household every time one of its members is in danger and casts punishment on those who don’t do their duties.

The young people, of course, laugh at the countess’s superstitions and continue with their celebrations.

Raymonda’s fiance’s messenger arrives. He is sent by the noble crusader knight, Jean de Brienne and he bears a letter for his beloved.

Raymonda is estatic to read that King Andrew II of Hungary, for whom Jean de Brienne has fought, is returning home in triumph and that her fiance will arrive at the Doris castle the next day for their wedding.Raymonda ballet

Celebrations are once again interupted with the arrival of an uninvited Saracen knight, Abderakhman and his entourage, who have need of shelter for the night.

Captivated by Raymonda’s beauty, Abderakhman falls in love with her at once and resolves to do anything to win her.

The party goes on until late into the night and once left alone an exhausted Raymonda lies down on a couch and falls asleep. As she sleeps, she begins to dream.

The White Lady appears illuminated by the moonlight and she orders Raymonda to follow her.

Scene 2: The Visions

Raymonda follows the White Lady along the terrace in her state of unconsciousness.

The mist from the garden evapourates and Jean de Brienne appears. Overjoyed Raymonda runs into his arms and they are surrounded by knights and celestial maidens. The garden is illuminated with beautiful lights and Raymonda expresses her joy to the White Lady, who interrupts her enthusiasm with a vision.

When Raymonda tries to return to her fiance, she finds instead Abderakhman who has taken his place. Abderakhman declares his love for her, but Raymonda although confused and upset is quick to reject him.

Elves and imps appear from everywhere surrounding Raymonda who begs the White Lady to save her. Abderakhman tries to take Raymonda by force, but she cries and faints. The frightful vision disappears along with the White Lady.

The Courtyard Of The CastleRaymond ballet

Raymonda welcomes her guest at a feast in honor of Jean de Brienne’s arrival, but she cannot hide her uneasiness caused by his delay.

Abderakhman approaches her repeatedly but remembering the warnings of the White Lady she rejects him with contempt.

Abderakhman realizes that the only way to possess Raymonda is by force. He calls his slaves to dance for her, afterwhich he summons his cup bearers and they pour a potion into everyone’s cups causing all the guests to become drunk.

Seizing his chance, Abderakham grabs Raymonda in an attempt to abduct her, but luckily Jean de Brienne arrives just in time along with King Andrew II and his knights.

He saves Raymonda from the hands of the Saracens and tries to seize Abderakhman.Raymond

King Andrew commands the two rivals to put an end to the matter in a duel, during which the White Lady appears on the castle tower.

Abderakham is dazed and dies by Jean de Brienne’s sword.

Raymonda joyfully embraces her fiance and the two reaffirm their love as the King joins their hands.

The Wedding

Raymonda and Jean de Brienne are finally married and King Andrew II of Hungary gives the newly wedded couple his blessing.

In his honor, everyone at court is dressed in Hungarian fashion and perform a range of Hungarian-style dances, ending in an Apotheosis where everyone comes together in a knightly tournament.

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9 thoughts on “Raymonda Ballet – The History And The Story”

  1. Hello, 

    Your article really gave so much detailed information that I didn’t know about. Even if I don’t dance ballet or anything similar, it always caught my eye and I think is really something magnificent and wonderful there. 

    Reading through your post helped me understand more about its history and this specific ballet. 

    Nice work writing a very interesting and detailed article.

  2. Following up the plot of the story the way you are writing it is more or less like being in the hall with dim light viewing the dancers acting this right on stage. 

    I always tell people, there is beauty in choreography and until you discover it, you’ve not truly enjoyed the warmth of classical dance steps. 

  3. I am an admirer of ballet, but I have no training in the field. My opinion is that the Russians were and are the best (as in skating). The proof is also in your post: although Raymonda’s ballet is found on many world stages, all of them are based on Kirov’s choreography, organized by Konstantin Sergeev. Wonderful video, I watched; thanks for posting

    1. Thanks for your comment. I love finding out about how all these ballets came about and the history of them. The Russians play a huge part in the fame of this art form.

  4. This is such a beautiful ballet. I would love an opportunity to see it in person. Watching the video was really nice but I can only imagine how much nicer it is to see it and experience it in person. 

    Thank you for explaining the entire ballet I such detail. My daughters are in dance and my older one wants to focus on ballet. Where would be the absolute best venue to see this ballet today?

    1. There are many great ballet companies worldwide to go and watch, but its just a matter of waiting for them to put on this particular production.

  5. Actually, I know nothing about choreography, but it sounded more exciting while reading this post.  it’s something I need to know about, we learn everyday and I believe after reading this article again, I will be much more informed. The names and the past years sounds so historic and I love history, I need more of this please, thanks I will drop by to read more 

    1. Thanks for stopping by Destiny. I love researching the history of dance, and you will find lots of it on this website.

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