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Bolshoi ballet enthrals Muscat

31 Jan 2024 By ANIRBAN RAY

An explicit ballet performed by the Bolshoi Theatre regaled audiences at the Royal Opera House Muscat last weekend

Muscat – From time dating back to centuries, love and chivalry have been central themes in the world of opera and ballet, captivating audiences with timeless tales of romance and heroism. Among these captivating performances, the rendition of the Bolshoi ballet – Raymonda – stands testimony to the enduring allure of these themes.

The Royal Opera House Muscat hosted the classic ballet from the Bolshoi Theatre of Moscow last week for theatre buffs in Muscat. Raymonda, a masterpiece ballet, seamlessly weaves together the realms of love, music, dance, costumes, and mystery, presenting a narrative that unfolds with the grace of passion and a complex love story.

Choreographed by the legendary Marius Petipa and set to the mesmerising music of Alexander Glazunov, the ballet was a grand spectacle comprising three acts, taking the audience on a journey through medieval chivalrous legends.

The storyline, rooted in medieval times during the ‘Crusades’, revolves around the engagement of the titular character, Raymonda, to the French knight Jean de Brienne. As Jean departs for the crusades, Raymonda finds herself abducted by Abdurrahman. However, the tale takes a turn of joyous reunions as Jean swiftly rescues her, and the two embark on a journey of marital bliss.

Audiences in Muscat were thrilled by the production, captivated by the love story played out on stage with a choreography that reflected both East and West dance traditions. This artistic partnership between Russia and Oman signified an important moment of creative collaboration between the two nations.

Umberto Fanni, director general of the Royal Opera House Muscat, stated that it was a privilege to welcome the esteemed Bolshoi to the opera house. “We have always offered the best performances in the world from the best companies in the world to our audience at the Royal Opera House Muscat. It is a central part of our mission to ensure that the community of Oman is given access to the highest standard of musical arts. The Bolshoi represents a tradition of excellence, renowned throughout the world for its ballet and orchestral programme,” he said.

As the curtains rose, revealing a spectacular backdrop of a setting moon on a starry night or a vibrant day in a palatial setup, one remained awestruck by the grandeur. To add more colour to the ambience were the flexible dancers with their agile bodies and expressive body language.

With every emotion of love and separation, the dances twirled, pirouetted, leaped like gazelles to convey the profound emotions of love, sorrow, anxiety, and joy of reunion without uttering a single word. With a marathon running time of three hours, the ballet unfolded in layers, transporting the audience to another realm where dance becomes the language of the heart.

Andrei Kostin, chairman of the Bolshoi Theater Board of Trustees said, “Russian ballet is an integral part of world civilisation and culture. The Bolshoi Theatre’s tour to Muscat reflects the growing level of our amicable relations with Oman and the Arab world. We are proud to perform at the Royal Opera House, which hosts the best artists from all over the world and has become an important intersection point for cultural traditions of the East and West.”

Spectators speak

Lovel Balakrishnan, Indian classical dancer

“I have watched several Indian classical and folk-dance performances which are based on individual expressions and mudras. However, this ballet was very subtle. There was no time lag and the entire performance went smoothly. The body language of the performers was similar to the ‘rasas’ of Indian classical dance – love, valour, passion, jealousy, etc.

Fredrick Jones, a violin player

“In ballet, unlike opera, there are no dialogues or songs. The entire three-hour show was so engaging that every expression of the performers was conveyed with grace and fluidity of motion. I also loved the accompanying orchestra which kept the flow so engaging.”

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