In this swashbuckling fantasy tale of captive maidens and cutthroats, love and betrayal, deception and conspiracy, witness the sheer energy and athleticism of the English National Ballet, led by artistic director Tamara Rojo, as they bring to life one of ballet’s most exhilarating stories.
Originally choreographed by Joseph Mazilier in 1856, this gripping drama has undergone many revivals and revisions, most notably by Marius Petipa (1858, 1863, 1868, 1885, and 1899), Konstantin Sergeyev (1972 and 1992), and recently by Anna-Marie Holmes (1992 and 2013). In Holmes’ latest reinvention of Le Corsaire, she reworks Petipa’s and Sergeyev’s versions to showcase the virtuosity of the English National Ballet, the first British dance company to perform the piece in its entirety.
Set to a rousing score by nine composers and featuring extravagant sets and costumes designed by Hollywood film designer Bob Ringwood (Batman, Alien 3, Star Trek Nemesis, A.I. and Troy), hold on to your breath as this thrilling adventure culminates in one of the most visually arresting spectacles in ballet.
(2hr 30mins, including two intermissions)
English National Ballet is a world-class ballet company, renowned for creative excellence, innovative collaborations and engaging ways of honouring and enhancing traditional ballet. Established in 1950 by former Ballets Russes dancers Anton Dolin and Alicia Markova and impresario Julian Braunsweg, and now led by Artistic Director Tamara Rojo, it exists to bring ballet to the widest possible audience by touring throughout the UK and around the world.
The appointment of Tamara Rojo as Artistic Director in 2012 saw the beginning of a new chapter for the company, with her twin aims of keeping the classics fresh and relevant for new generations and investing in commissioning and creating the classics of the future. This has been demonstrated with the creation of an acclaimed production of Le Corsaire alongside the commissioning of three new ballets by British choreographers to commemorate the anniversary of the First World War (Lest We Forget).
English National Ballet is committed to making ballet accessible to all. The
My First Ballet…series is a joint venture with the English National Ballet School, offering children the opportunity to see a ballet production created specifically for their age group. Through its Engagement department, English National Ballet works with local communities of all ages involving them with ballet through workshops, talks and classes that take place around the country, and through work such as its hugely successful Dance for Parkinson’s programme.
$60*, $100**, $140, $180, $220
Student Concession: $30*, $50**
NSF and Senior Citizen Concession: $42*, $70**
Toteboard arts subsidy (50%) applicable for Primary, Secondary, JC & ITEs!
Staged by Anna-Marie Holmes after Marius Petipa and Konstantin Sergeyev
Music by Adolphe Adam, Cesare Pugni, Leo Delibes,
Riccardo Drigo, Prince Pyotr van Oldenburg, Ludwig Minkus, Yuly Gerber, Baron Boris Fitinhof-Schnell and Albert Zabel
Edited by Lars Payne and Gavin Sutherland
Libretto by Jules-Henri de Saint-Georges and Joseph Mazilier in a version by Anna-Marie Holmes
Based on The Corsair (1814) by Lord Byron
Sets and Costumes by Bob Ringwood
Lighting by Neil Austin
A pirate ship sails across the high seas, captained by our hero Conrad and his faithful pirate crew as they navigate towards the Ottoman Empire. They are on a mission to rescue Medora, Conrad’s love, from the hands of the slave trader Lankendem.
Act I – The Bazaar
Lankendem, the slave trader of the bazaar, heads off with his new slave girls to sell. After safely docking their ship Conrad and the other pirates enter the bazaar where Lankendem is selling his slave girls. Conrad is looking for Medora, Lankadem’s beautiful ward, with whom he has fallen in love. Suddenly he spies her peering from a balcony. Medora throws Conrad a rose as proof of her feelings towards him and Conrad becomes even more determined to free her.
The Governor of the citadel, the Pasha, arrives amidst much fanfare, with his wives and servants, to the market and Lankendem presents three young women he wants to sell to him. When all are rejected, Lankendem quickly presents his “enigmatic dark-eyed lady”, the young slave girl Gulnare, and the Pasha buys her immediately. Lankendem, suddenly, realises Medora has been freed by Ali, Conrad’s slave, and she is escaping. As he tries to avoid this, the Pasha, peering under her veil, faints at the sight of her beauty and insists she must dance for him. Lankendem reluctantly accepts, as this is his favourite girl and he did not want to sell her to anyone.
As Medora dances everyone is entranced by her beauty; the Pasha, unable to resist such temptation, buys her as well. Conrad consumed with love, instructs Ali to steal Medora from the Pasha. Conrad commands the pirates to raid the village kidnapping both Medora and Lankendem and taking them back to their secret hideaway.
Act II – The Pirate’s Cave
Reunited again Conrad shows his hideout to Medora, and promises her all his treasures and possessions. Birbanto, the second-in-command, witnesses this and confronts Conrad as the riches are not his to give.
Conrad summons the pirates to bring their stolen bounty into the cave including the slave girls and the kidnapped Lankendem. Medora, Conrad and Ali dance to entertain the crew. After the festivities, Medora pleads with Conrad, in the name of love, to free all the slave girls. Besotted by Medora, Conrad agrees but Birbanto rebels and persuades Conrad’s pirates to mutiny against him. A ferocious fight ensues with Conrad victorious.
Birbanto, still unhappy with Conrad, devises another plan. Spraying a rose with a sleeping potion he forces Lankendem to help him give the flower to Medora, who unaware of the poison, hands the rose to Conrad as a reminder of their love. Conrad smells the flower, inhaling its aroma and falls into a drugged sleep. As the pirates return to the cave, they see Conrad unconscious and decide to kidnap Medora. In her struggle and trying to defend herself from attack she cuts Birbanto’s arm. In the confusion, Lankendem steals Medora back and escapes. Birbanto is about to kill the comatose Conrad when Ali interrupts him. Conrad awakes to discover his beloved Medora is missing once again and brokenheartedly vows to rescue her. Birbanto feigns ignorance and swears his loyalty to Conrad.
Act III – The Pasha’s Palace
Gulnare is entertaining the Pasha by dancing and teasing the Vizier, but they are interrupted by Lankendem entering the palace alongside Medora. The Pasha is delighted Medora has been recaptured and declares he will make her his most treasured wife. He commands her straight to the harem, whilst he smokes on his opium pipe falling into a deep dreamlike sleep.
Scene 2 – The Dream le jardin animee
Asleep, the Pasha dreams of his harem in his fantasy garden.
Transition – The Pasha’s Palace
The Pasha is awakened by the arrival of Conrad, Birbanto and the pirates disguised as merchants, minstrels and conjurors. Conrad and Birbanto distract the Pasha as the pirates kill his guards. Unaware, the Pasha invites them to enter his private rooms.
Scene 3 – The Pasha’s Palace
Medora, Gulnare and the Pasha’s wives dance around the Pasha whilst Conrad, Birbanto and the pirates enter in their disguises. When they revealing their true identities, chaos erupts within the palace. Conrad and his men chase away the Pasha, assistants and wives as the pirates dance in victory. Birbanto suddenly rushes in chasing Gulnare; when they collide with Conrad and Medora. Medora exposes Birbanto as a traitor and Conrad shoots him. Ali helps Medora, Gulnare and Conrad escape and they flee to the ship chased by Lankendem, the Pasha and his Assistant.
Scene 4 – The Pirate Shipwreck
Safely on board, Medora, Gulnare, Conrad and Ali sail upon a calm sea. Conrad cradles Medora in his arms at last. Suddenly a fierce and violent storm rages with lightning bolts illuminating the darkening sky. Severe winds shred the sails and a lightning bolt snaps the ship’s mast in half. The ship sinks.
Scene 5 – The Survivors
Conrad and Medora, having survived the shipwreck, desperately cling onto a rock. Conrad pulls out the symbolic rose that Medora gave him when they first met and hands it to her declaring his undying love. As she takes the flower into her hands, Conrad collapses.
© Photography by ASH
© Photography by ASH
© Photography by ASH
© Photography by ASH