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Le Corsaire

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Ballet in three acts, with choreography by Mazilier, libretto by Henri Vernoy de Saint-Georges and Mazilier, music by Adam, sets by Martin, Despléchin, Cambon, and Thierry, costumes by Albert, and machinery by Sacré. Premiered 23 Jan. 1856 at the Paris Opera, with Carolina Rosati and Domenico Segarelli. The story is very loosely based on Byron's poem, The Corsair and tells of a young Greek woman, Medora, who is sold as a slave girl to the lecherous Ottoman Pasha Seyd and through a series of dramatically staged rescues and lucky escapes (including a shipwreck) ends up safely in the embrace of the dashing pirate Conrad. An earlier version of the ballet, choreographed by F. D. Albert to music by Robert Bochsa, was premiered at the King's Theatre in London in 1837, but it was eclipsed by the popularity of Mazilier's staging. Perrot staged a version (after Mazilier) with additional music by Pugni at the Bolshoi Theatre in St Petersburg in 1858 that featured Petipa as Conrad; with Petipa contributing a pas d'esclave with music by Prince Peter von Oldenburg. Petipa revived it in 1868 in a new version for his wife, Marie Petipa, which included the Le Jardin Animé scene to music by Delibes. The ballet's most significant staging occurred in 1899 when Petipa completely reworked it for the Mariinsky (with additional music by Drigo and Minkus) with Pierina Legnani as Medora. This is the production which formed the basis for subsequent Russian stagings during the 20th century, including Gorsky's (Bolshoi, 1912) that gave Conrad and Medora a new love duet, Gusev's (Maly, 1955) and K. Sergeyev's 1973. In 2007 Ratmansky staged a reconstructed version of the 1899 production for the Bolshoi, which re-instated Petipa's original mass choreography for the Jardin Animé scene. In the West the ballet has most often been represented by the Corsaire pas de deux (originally conceived as a pas de trois), whose extrovertly virtuoso choreography has made it a gala favourite. However Boston Ballet staged a full-length version of the ballet, based on K. Sergeyev's staging, in 1992 and American Ballet Theatre presented a revised production of this in 1998. In 2007 the Bavarian State Ballet mounted a version based on Petipa's 1899 staging.

Subjects: Performing artsDance

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