Act curtain for Raymonda, by Alexander Benois
The Ballet Russe Collection
© 2001 Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York / ADAGP, Paris
Ballet in 3 acts and 4 scenes, original libretto and
choreography by Marius Petipa (St. Petersburg, Maryinsky Theatre,
January 19, 1898).
Music by Alexander Glazunov.
Re-staged for the Ballet Russe de Monte Carlo by George Balanchine
and Alexandra Danilova.
Scenery & costumes by Alexander Benois.
Premiere: New York , March 12, 1946 , by the Ballet Russe de Monte
Considered by many of the Russian dancers as one of the
highlights of the Petipa repertoire, Raymonda was the
longest full-length ballet mounted by the Ballet Russe, and its
sheer length and volume bewildered an American audience accustomed
to triple or quadruple bills of repertoire ballets coupled with
"It could be argued that Raymonda, despite its
brilliant dances, was not an ideal introduction to the multi-act
classical form, since the thread of plot that holds its dances
together - a tenuous story about how a Crusader rescues a lady from
a Saracen - has never been considered one of the triumphs of
balletic dramaturgy. At a time when serious dancegoers were
discovering the narrative works of Tudor and Graham, the
Raymonda scenario must have seemed downright foolish.
Audiences did not quite know how to take the events of the ballet.
Often, City Centre patrons would hiss Nikita Talin as the evil
Saracen, as though he were the villain in a parody revival of a
Victorian melodrama. Some of the dancers also had difficulty
adjusting to Raymonda."
Jack Anderson, The One and Only: The Ballet Russe de Monte
Many critics and balletomanes, although admiring the classical
flavor and the sheer magnificence of the spectacle, complained
about its excessive length and subsequently several cuts were made
until finally the ballet was reduced to just a series of
divertissements, and under that guise remained for several years in
Those feelings were however not universal. Writing about the
Ballet Russe's 1945-46 season in which the full production appeared
for the first time, the dance critic and (later encyclopaedist)
Anatole Chujoy characterized Raymonda as "...a superb
ballet, ingenious in choreographic invention, splendid in form,
absorbing to look at, pleasant to listen to." Dance News,
Several of Benois' lush scenery pieces remain in the Butler
Ballet's collection, including the Act Curtain portrayed above, and
the backdrops for the first two acts.
Act 1 backdrop
Act 2 backdrop
Reproduction, including downloading of Benois works is
prohibited by copyright laws and international conventions without
the express written permission of Artists Rights Society
(ARS), New York.