|Choreography by Konstantin Sergeyev, after Marius
Staging by Anna-Marie Holmes,
with the assistance of Tatiana Legat, Tatiana Terekhova, and Sergei Berejnoi
Music by Adolphe Adam, Cesare Pugni, Leo Delibes, Riccardo Drigo, and Prince Oldenbourg
Libretto by Jules-Henri de Saint-Georges and Joseph Mazilier in a version by Konstantin Sergeyev
Based on The Corsair (1814) by Lord Byron
Scenery and costumes by Irina Konstantinovna Tibilova
Lighting by Mary Jo Dondlinger
Le Corsaire, with choreography by Joseph Mazilier, received its World Premiere at the Paris Opera, Paris on January 23, 1856 danced by Carolina Galetti Rosati (Medora) and Domenico Segarelli (Conrad).
Marius Petipa completely re-choreographed Le Corsaire for the 1899 production by the Maryinsky Ballet at the Maryinsky Theatre, St. Petersburg. It is from this production that the present productions are derived, and from which the pas de deux, to music by Drigo, is performed, mostly credited "after Petipa."
Le Corsaire was given its United States premiere by the Leningrad-Kirov Ballet at the Metropolitan Opera House, New York, on July 3, 1989, danced by Altynai Asylmuratova (Medora) and Yevgeni Neff (Conrad).
This production, entitled The Pirate (Le Corsaire), received its first performance by the Boston Ballet, the first non-Russian ballet company to perform this work, at the Wang Center, Boston, on March 27, 1997, danced by Natasha Akhmarova (Medora), Pollyana Ribeiro (Gulnare), Robert Wallace (Conrad), Laszlo Berdo (Birbanto), Patrick Armand (Ali, the slave), Arthur Leeth (Lankendem).
This production received its American Ballet Theatre Company Premiere on June 19, 1998, at the Metropolitan Opera House, New York, danced by Nina Ananiashvili (Medora), Ashley Tuttle (Gulnare), Giuseppe Picone (Conrad), Angel Corella (Birbanto), Jose Manuel Carreño (Ali, the slave), and Vladimir Malakhov (Lankendem).
Prologue: A pirate ship, manned by Conrad, his slave, and his friend Birbanto sails toward Turkey.
Act I - The Bazaar: Dealers and buyers fill a noisy bazaar where slave girls are being traded. Conrad and his men arrive where Lankendem, the owner of the bazaar, is selling girls. Conrad sees Medora, a slave girl, and falls immediately in love. Seyd, a pasha, arrives on the scene amidst much fanfare. Lankendem presents three young women whom the pasha rejects. Lankendem presents Gulnare, a lovely slave girl, to the pasha and he buys her. Lankendem then presents a young slave girl, Medora, and everyone is entranced by her beauty. The pasha buys her. Conrad instructs the slave to steal Medora back and the pirates raid the village and kidnap Lankendem.
Act II - The Grotto: Conrad shows Medora his hideout. Birbanto calls all the pirates to bring in their stolen bounty to the grotto, as well as the slave girls and Lankendem. Medora, Conrad, and his slave dance to entertain the crew. Afterward, Medora entreats Conrad, in the name of their love, to free all the slave girls. He agrees, but Birbanto rebels against the idea and instead persuades the pirates to riot against Conrad. By the force of Conrad's commanding personality and physical presence, he single-handedly instills terror into the hearts of the pirates and they abandon their mutinous plan. Not to be thwarted, Birbanto devises a new scheme. He sprays a rose with a sleeping potion and forces Lankendem to help him pass the flower to Medora, who unwittingly gives it to Conrad. He inhales its aroma and falls into a drugged sleep. The pirates return to the grotto and attempt to capture Medora. While struggling, she snatches a dagger and cuts Birbanto's arm. In the confusion, Lankendem steals Medora back and escapes. Birbanto is about to kill Conrad but is interrupted by the slave. Stunned and broken-hearted, Conrad discovers Medora missing. Birbanto feigns ignorance and swears his loyalty to Conrad.
Act III, Scene One - The Pasha's Palace: The playful Gulnare is interrupted by Lankendem bringing a veiled Medora. The pasha is delighted that Medora has been recaptured and declares that she will become his number one wife.
Act III, Scene Two - Jardin Animée: Delighted by all his lovely women, the pasha dreams of them in a beautiful garden.
Act III, Scene Three - The Pasha's Palace: The pasha is awakened by the arrival of Conrad, Birbanto, and the pirates, disguised as pilgrims. He invites them to enter the palace. Medora recognizes Conrad, disguised as one of the pilgrims. Suddenly the pilgrims throw off their robes and reveal themselves as pirates. Chaos erupts within the palace. Conrad and his men chase away the pasha, his guard and wives. They dance in victory. Suddenly, Birbanto runs in chasing Gulnare. They collide with Conrad and Medora. Medora exposes Birbanto as a traitor, and Conrad shoots him. Conrad's slave helps Medora, Gulnare, and Conrad escape. They flee to the ship.
Act III, Scene Four - The Storm: The pirate ship sails upon a calm sea. Conrad, at the helm, cradles Medora in his arms. Suddenly a fierce storm blows across as lightning illuminates the darkening sky. Gusting winds shred the sails and a lightning bolt snaps the ship's mast in half. The ship sinks amidst the relentless, turbulent waters.
Epilogue: As the wind subsides and the sea calms itself, the moon rises in the sky. It sheds light upon Conrad and Medora, clinging to a rock and offering thanks for their miraculous survival, a testimony to the strength of their love.