Act III of Raymonda celebrates the wedding of Raymonda and the knight Jean de Brienne, following Jean’s return from the Crusades.
Raymonda was created by Marius Petipa in 1898 for the Mariinsky Theatre in St Petersburg. It contains some of his most spectacular choreography and a magnificent score by Alexander Glazunov, full of spirited rhythms and lilting waltzes – George Balanchine called it ‘some of the finest ballet music we have’. Rudolf Nureyev had an intimate knowledge of Raymonda: he performed in the ballet as a young dancer with the Kirov Theatre and staged a full-length version for The Royal Ballet in 1964, reviving many of the dances from memory.
Nureyev presented an adapted version of Act III at Covent Garden in 1969. Against an opulent setting created by Barry Kay, a Hungarian folkdance opens the wedding celebrations for a ballerina and her cavalier. A lively male pas de quatre is followed by the famous grand pas hongrois, which contains ensembles for all 10 dancers, who wear radiant white costumes. Act III of Raymonda was performed as part of a tribute to Nureyev at the Royal Opera House in 2003.