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Le Corsaire (ballet in three acts with a prologue and epilogue)
World premiere: Kirov Theatre of Opera and Ballet (Mariinsky), Leningrad
Premiere of this production: 29 Apr 1987
The performance has 2 intermissions
Running time: 2 hours 30 minutes
ballet, Inspired by Lord Byron’s epic poem, The Corsair
, which sold ten thousand copies on the first day of publication, was first performed at the Bolshoi in 1856. Thisis a swashbuckling, romantic tale of pirates, slaves and oriental intrigue and is typical of the exotic and ambitious ballets created during the Tsarist era.
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.
Three sailors are struggling to save their boat during a storm.
The boat sinks.
The Sea Shore
The sea casts the three men, Conrad, Ali and Birbanto, onto a beach. Young Greek women come to their aid. Among them is Medora. Conrad, attracted by Medora, tells her that he is a corsair. Danger now threatens in the form of a Turkish patrol. Medora and her friend Gulnara hide the corsairs, but the Turks take the girls prisoner. The evil Lankedem, a slave-trader, is pillaging the Greek coast, and he has connived with the patrol officer to seize the girls.
The Slave Market
Lankedem is selling his slaves in the market place, where Seid Pasha is seated in the place of honour, looking for fresh beauties for his harem. He is attracted by Gulnara, and buys her. As she is taken away, Medora is brought in, looking so beautiful that Seid Pasha is prepared to pay any price for her. But suddenly a new buyer appears, whom Medora recognises as Conrad in disguise. As the auction for Medora proceeds, Seid Pasha is astonished, and asks the new bidder to name himself. At once, Conrad and his followers throw off their cloaks and are revealed as armed corsairs. They carry Medora away, seize Lankedem, and make off to sea. The Turkish guard has proved useless, and Seid Pasha is furious.
The Corsairs´ Cave on a Greek Island
The corsairs rejoice at having seized such a rich booty from the market, and at having saved the beautiful young women. They dance in celebration, and Medora dances with Conrad and his friend Ali to the delight of the corsairs. The other young girls ask Medora to intercede with Conrad so that they may return to their own villages. Conrad allows himself to be persuaded, but Birbanto and the other men wish to keep the young women there. Conrad is adamant, and Medora leads the girls to the shore. Lankedem has observed this conflict of opinions and, in exchange for his freedom, he offers Birbanto a potion which will induce a heavy sleep when administered. The potion is poured over a bouquet of flowers and given to Medora who then presents it to Conrad in thanks for his chivalry towards the girls. Lankedem thereby abducts Medora once again.
Seid Pasha´s Harem
Gulnara is the jewel of the harem, and none of the other slaves brought by Lankedem pleases the Pasha. When Lankedem reappears with Medora, the Pasha is delighted. He buys her and is greeted by a scene in a garden of beauties. But mysterious pilgrims suddenly appear in the palace, and they are invited to join in evening prayer.
Medora recognises Conrad and his men, again in disguise, and this time she truly escapes from the Pasha.
Out on the open sea, the corsairs sail away, together with Conrad, Medora and their friends, heading towards new adventures.
1 Theatre Square
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