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Classical Ballet "Le Corsaire" ballet in three acts. Choreography by Marius Petipa and Konstantin Sergeyev revised by Mikhail Messerer
Mikhailovsky Classical Ballet and Opera Theatre (established 1833)

Running time: 2 hours 40 minutes

The performance has 2 intermissions

Schedule for "Le Corsaire" ballet in three acts. Choreography by Marius Petipa and Konstantin Sergeyev revised by Mikhail Messerer 2020

Orchestra: Mikhailovsky Symphony Orchestra

Classical Ballet in 3 acts

World premiere: 23 January 1856, Theatre de l'Imperial de l'Opera, Paris
Premiere of this production: 8 September 2015, Mikhailovsky theatre, St. Petersburg, Russia

Le Corsaire is a winner “The ballet is the setting for some of the most sophisticated choreography, and the Mikhailovsky dancers address it with joyous precision.” The Guardian newspaper covers Mikhail Messerer’s revised version of the legendary ballet.

Premiere of the production: 8 September 2015


Libretto by Jules Henri Vernoy de Saint Georges revised by Mikhail Messerer 

Choreography by Marius Petipa and Konstantin Sergeyev revised by Mikhail Messerer 

Choreographic fragments by Jules Perrot, Alexander Gorsky, Pyotr Gusev 


Staged by Mikhail Messerer 

Musical Director of the production: Pavel Klinichev 

Musical Director’s Assistant: Valentin Bogdanov 

Sketches of the Sets: Vyacheslav Okunev 

Costume Designer: Tatiana Yastrebova 

Lighting Designer: Alexander Kibitkin 

Ballet Master’s Assistant: Anna Razenko 

Répétiteurs: Yulia Makhalina, Evgeny Popov, Evgenia Kostyleva, Svetlana Efremova, Tatiana Legat, Elvira Khabibullina, Natalia Tsyplakova 

Principal Pianist: Natalia Spichka

Video: Victoria Zlotnikova

Premiere at the Mikhailovsky Theatre: 13 March 2009

Adolphe Adam in 15 years after creating Giselle produced another cornerstone of the ballet classical repertory, the ballet Le Corsaire. The scenario based on the poem by Lord Byron was written by Henri Saint-Georges and ballet master Joseph Mazilier. It was Mazilier who staged the new ballet. The premiere took place in Théâtre Imperial de l’Opéra in Paris on January 23, 1856. Two years later on January 12, 1858, the ballet was staged at the Bolshoi Theatre in St Petersburg. French ballet master Jules Perrot, a co-author of Giselle, who worked in St.Petersburg in 1848-1859, choreographed the new ballet based on the version by Mazilier. In 1863, Le Corsaire was staged at the Mariinsky Theatre by Marius Petipa, a renowned French ballet master who had worked in St Petersburg since 1847.

Later the ballet was staged several times in different versions revised by different choreographers and composers though all the versions were based on the version by Mazilier, Perrot and Petipa. Our theatre first turned to the ballet in 1955. The artistic team included Yury Slonimsky, an expert in classical dance, ballet master Pyotr Gusev, conductor Evgeny Kornblit, and designer Simon Virsaladze. The idea of the new version was to find the motivation for every character of the ballet. Later, in 1968, Pyotr Gusev created a three-act ballet which was on at the Mikhailovsky Theatre till 2009.

New times suggest new approaches. Farukh Ruzimatov, a brilliant performer of the role of Ali, presented a new version of Le Corsaire: «On the basis of the ballet by Marius Petipa and Pyotr Gusev existing in the theatre we tried to create a new, more dynamic, bright and showy ballet.»


Act 1

Oriental bazaar. The merchants are examining exotic goods. Beautiful slave girls are here for sale, too. A group of corsairs led by Conrad appear in the bazaar square. Medora, the ward of slave trader Lanquedem, comes to the balcony. Seeing Conrad, she quickly makes a selam — a bouquet in which each flower has a special meaning — and throws it to Conrad. Medora leaves the balcony and appears in the square accompanied by Lanquedem.
Seyd-Pasha is brought in his palanquin to the bazaar: he wants to buy new slave girls for his seraglio. The girls demonstrate their art of dancing. Medora arrests Pasha’s eye and he decides to buy her at any cost. Medora is horrified by the bargaining between Lanquedem and Pasha. Conrad assures Medora that he won’t let anyone hurt her.
On Conrad’s signal, the corsairs abduct the slave girls and Medora. Conrad orders to kidnap Lanquedem, too.

Act 2

Conrad brings Medora to his seaside grotto. The couple is happy. Conrad’s friend, Birbanto, brings in Lanquedem, who is shivering with fear, and the slave girls, who beg Conrad to let them go. Medora implores Conrad to set the girls free, and he gives them freedom. Birbanto and his associates are displeased with Conrad’s decision: they claim the slave girls. Furious Conrad affirms his decision. Birbanto threatens Conrad, but the pirate is adamant, and the slave girls hasten to escape.
Infuriated Birbanto attempts to stub the leader of the corsairs. A fight ensues in which Conrad puts Birbanto to his knees and takes the frightened Medora away.
Lanquedem appears. Birbanto offers him freedom in return for a reasonable amount of money. The slave trader swears that he is poor and can’t pay for his freedom. The corsairs snatch off his hat, frock and belt, discovering hidden diamonds, pearls and gold. The frightened Lanquedem comes up with the idea to give a sleeping potion to Conrad, and Birbanto orders him to do it. Lanquedem sends Conrad poisoned wine. He drinks it and immediately falls asleep. Medora in vain tries to wake him up.
A stranger appears, in whom Medora recognizes Birbanto. She tries to escape him but is surrounded by the conspirators. Trying to defend herself, Medora stabs Birbanto in the wrist with Conrad’s dagger but is abducted by Lanquedem. Conrad wakes up. He is distraught.

Act 3

Seyd-Pasha’s palace on the coast of the Bosporus. Pasha’s odalisques entertain themselves with dances. Eunuchs bring a tray with exotic fruits, and the women quarrel over who gets what.
Pasha orders odalisques to stop their disputes. Carried away by the youth and beauty of his favourite odalisque Gulnare, Seyd-Pasha presents her with his handkerchief, but she throws it on to her friends; eventually the handkerchief, passing from hand to hand, reaches an old odalisque who smothers Seyd-Pasha with her caresses.
The slave trader’s arrival is announced to Pasha. It’s Lanquedem, who is bringing Medora wrapped in a shawl. Pasha is thrilled to see her. Gulnare welcomes the new girl.
A servant tells Pasha that a caravan of pilgrims on their way to Mecca are asking for shelter. Pasha welcomes them in. During the evening prayer the mock dervish by stealth removes his false beard, and Medora recognizes Conrad. Pasha orders his odalisques to entertain the guests with dancing.
Conrad and his friends throw off all disguise, threatening Pasha with weapons. Pasha runs from the palace. The corsairs win the battle against the palace guards.
Gulnare is asking for Conrad’s help to get away from Birbanto, who has been chasing her. Conrad, moved by her tears, protects her. Birbanto retreats. Seeing him, Medora tells Conrad about Birbanto’s betrayal. Birbanto swears that he has never betrayed Conrad but Medora points at his wounded wrist. Birbanto suddenly attacks Conrad, attempting to kill him but is shot by him.
Sea bay. Conrad and Medora get aboard the ship waiting for them and sail off to new adventures.

Schedule for "Le Corsaire" ballet in three acts. Choreography by Marius Petipa and Konstantin Sergeyev revised by Mikhail Messerer 2020

"Le Corsaire" ballet
About This Video
"Le Corsaire" ballet
Mikhailovsky Classical Ballet and Opera Theatre, St. Petersburg, Russia

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