Libretto: Vernoy de Saint-Georges and Joseph Mazilier,
edited: Yuri Slonimsky and Pyotr Gusev
Set design: Teymuraz Murvanidze
Costume design: Galina Solovyova
Presented with two intervals.
Le Corsaire (The Pirate) is a ballet in three acts, with a libretto based on the poem The Corsair by Lord Byron. Originally choreographed by the Balletmaster Joseph Mazilier to the music of Adolphe Adam. First presented by the Ballet of the Académie Royale de Musique, Paris, France on 23 January 1856. The ballet has many celebrated passages which are often extracted and performed independently - the scene Le Jardin Animé, the Pas d’Esclave, and the Grand Pas de Trois des Odalisques. The most celebrated is the Le Corsaire Pas de Deux, which is among classical ballet’s most iconic and performed excerpts.
The ballet has been much revised throughout its long and complex performance history by way of later stagings in Russia, most notably by Jules Perrot (1858), Marius Petipa (1858, 1863, 1868, 1885, and 1899), Alexander Gorsky (1912), Agrippina Vaganova (1931), Pyotr Gusev (1955), Konstantin Sergeyev (1972, 1992), and Yuri Grigorovich (1994).
During the mid to late 19th century Adolphe Adam’s score acquired a substantial amount of additional music, and by the turn of the 20th century the score credited contributions from six different composers: Cesare Pugni, Grand Duke Peter II of Oldenburg (AKA Prince Oldenburg or Prince Peter Von Oldenburg), Léo Delibes, Léon Minkus, Prince Nikita Trubetskoi, and Riccardo Drigo (often not all of these composers are credited). Many Soviet-era revivals added new music as well, though the majority of such additions were extracted from ballets from the Imperial-era that were no longer being performed.
Today Le Corsaire is performed chiefly in two different versions - in Russia and parts of Europe (mostly eastern Europe) companies have mounted productions derived from Pyotr Gusev’s 1955 revival, initially staged for the Ballet of the Maly Theatre of St. Petersburg, and later the Kirov/Mariinsky Ballet in 1977. Outside of Russia and Europe - primarily in North America and some parts of western Europe - many companies have mounted productions derived from Konstantin Sergeyev’s revival, initially staged for the Kirov/Mariinsky Ballet in 1973, and later the Bolshoi Ballet in 1992.
Photos © 2000-2006 Marc Haegeman
A groups of Mediterranean corsairs (pirates), led by Conrad, Birbanto, and the slave Ali are caught at sea in a fierce storm. Soon, their great ship sinks.
Scene 1: The Sea-Shore Conrad and his friends are washed ashore. Young Greek women appear, led by Medora and Gulnare. They soon discover the shipwrecked corsairs, and immediately Medora and Conrad fall in love. But soon the women become aware of impending danger, and quickly hide the corsairs. A patrol of Turkish traders, in league with the villainous slave dealer Lankandem, are hunting for beautiful woman to sell as slaves. The Turks soon capture the young Greek women, and are paid handsomely by Lankendem. They soon head off to the slave market in a Turkish bazaar, and the corsairs vow to rescue the unfortunate maidens.
Scene 2: The Slave Market Amidst the bustle and barter the wealthy Seid Pasha turns up at the slave market to purchase beautiful young slave women for his harem. Lankendem shows off all of the fruits of his travels from foreign lands, and though he extols the beauty of captive maidens from Palestine and Algeria, the Pasha is not interested. Soon Lankendem presents Gulnare, who enchants the Pasha. Gulnare and Lankendem dance a Pas d’action (the Pas d’esclave). He then pays handsomely for her as she is carried off to his harem. But Lankendem has saved his greatest spoil for last - the beautiful Medora. The Pasha soon makes his offer, but is soon outbid by an unknown trader, who is Conrad in disguise. Conrad then wins Medora and whisks her away, followed by her fellow captives. In the confusion the Corsaires also take Lankendem captive.
The Corsaire’s Cave Conrad and his fellow corsairs take Medora and her fellow maidens to their cave filled with treasure. At the height of the celebrations Medora and Conrad declare their love, and Ali vows to be Medora’s devoted slave. The three dance a Grand Pas Classique (the Grand Pas de Deux а Trois or Le Corsaire Pas de Deux). The woman ask Medora to intercede on their behalf so that they may be released. Conrad promises to free them, but Birbanto and his friends protest, and a fight breaks out. Conrad keeps his word and releases the woman. Lankendem, who has witnessed the conflict, strikes a deal with Birbanto and his friends - in exchange for his freedom, he informs them of a potion that, when sprinkled on a flower, can immideiately induce sleep. Birbanto and his friends agree. Conrad and Medora return, relishing in the chance to be alone together. Lankendem then offers Medora a bouquet of flowers to give to Conrad. Conrad then smells the beautiful flowers and falls asleep. Soon, Lankendem, Birbanto, and their cohorts capture Medora. Conrad then awakes, and he and Ali vow to save her once again.
Scene 1: The Seid Pasha’s Harem Gulnare is being fкted by the Pasha, and she is enjoying herself. Lankendem soon arrives and presents the Pasha with three woman of ideal beauty to entertain the harem. They dance a Pas de Trois Classique (the Grand Pas de Trois des Odalisques). Soon Lankendem carries in the greatest prize - Medora. Though she is very sad at having been captured once more, her spirits are lifted when she is re-united with Gulnare.
Scene 2: Le Jardin Animй Medora, Gulnare, and the woman of the harem join together to dance a fantastical Grand Ballabile in which they celebrate beauty, grace, and harmony in a garden filled with flowers and magic fountains.
Scene 3: The Rescue Afterwards, the Pasha is warned that mysterious pilgrims have arrived. The pilgrims arrival coincides with the evening prayer, which is conducted by the leader, who is really Conrad in disguise. Their true identity is soon revealed, and they take revenge on the Pasha, his men, and Lankendem. They rescue Medora and Gulnare.
Medora, Conrad, Gulnare, and Ali set sail for new adventures, certain this time of lasting happiness.