While most agree that classical ballet plots can be, ahem, difficult to follow, Marius Petipa—legendary choreographer of Russian ballet—may take the cake for most outrageous. Here, we have a little fun with plot synopses for three famous ballets.
Le Corsaire Premiered 1856 Pirate boy meets slave girl. Rich guy wants slave girl for himself. Luckily, pirate boy steals slave girl away from rich guy. But then mutinous underling pirates plot against pirate boy to deliver slave girl back to rich guy. Pirate boy disguises himself to reclaim slave girl—only to be captured by rich guy’s goons. (This back-and-forth happens a few more times.) Eventually, slave girl and pirate boy safely escape rich guy’s clutches. Post-escape, there’s a shipwreck (because, why not?), but slave girl and pirate boy miraculously live.
La Bayadère Premiered 1877 Nikiya, a bayadère (or temple dancer), is in love with Solor, a warrior. Unfortunately, a high priest has the hots for Nikiya; plus, Solor’s already promised to the raja’s daughter. When the raja’s daughter, sensing competition, has Nikiya killed with (surprise!) a venomous snake, the gods—displeased with the way humans, once again, have screwed everything up—end up going scorched-earth on the entire temple, killing everyone. At least Nikiya and Solor’s spirits end up happily ever after. Oh, and one entire act is an opium-induced dream.
Raymonda Premiered 1898 Princess Raymonda is supposed to be marrying Jean, a gallant French knight, but he’s off at battle. A mysterious White Lady, with help from a few celestial maidens and elves, warns Raymonda in a dream that a dashing Saracen (Arab) knight is going to majorly hit on her. Sure enough, the Saracen arrives at Raymonda’s castle and flirts outrageously, hoping to sway her affection—first with folk dances, then by drugging the rest of the castle’s guests (yep) and, finally, by kidnapping her. Jean appears in the nick of time, bests the Saracen in a duel, and all’s well that ends well.