Choreography by Konstantin Sergeyev, after Marius Petipa
Staging by Anna-Marie Holmes, after Petipa and Sergeyev
Music by Adolphe Adam, Cesare Pugni, Leo Delibes, Riccardo Drigo, and
Libretto by Jules-Henri de Saint-Georges and Joseph Mazilier
Based on The Corsair (1814) by Lord Byron
Scenery and costumes by Irina Tibilova
Additional Costume Design by Robert Perdziola
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
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
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.