Petipa’s Vapid Aesthetic?
December 21, 2014
by Ilona Landgraf
Copyright © 2014 by Ilona Landgraf
“Raymonda” in several aspects marks a turning point amidst the classics. Premiering in January 1898 at the Maryinsky Theatre it was Marius Petipa’s last grand ballet before being gradually disempowered at the Imperial Theatre from 1903 on. By comparison, its score was Alexander Glasunov’s first attempt at ballet music. Relatively unknown as composer, he had been chosen to fill the gap caused by Tchaikovsky’s death in 1893. Though not pleased at first when he faced the kind of detailed array Petipa had used to predetermine Tchaikovsky’s famous ballet scores, Glasunov nonetheless produced varied, colorfully romantic music which won him public appreciation. Albeit a pillar of the ballet repertory in Russia, “Raymonda” attracted little attention abroad possibly because of its unconvincing libretto. Set in medieval times in Southern France, it’s about a young noble lady Raymonda who waits for her fiancé Jean de Brienne’s return. Being an Hungarian knight, he’s off crusading in the Holy Land. While preparing for the celebration of Raymonda’s birthday (or, depending on the text source, name day) the Saracen knight Abderakhman appears as one of the well-wishers. (more…)