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American Ballet Theatre: Le Corsaire 2012

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American Ballet Theatre

Le Corsaire 2012
Metropolitan Opera House

Kevin McKenzie, Artistic Director
Rachel S. Moore, Executive Director
Alexei Ratmansky, Artist in Residence
Victor Barbee, Associate Artistic Director
Ballet Masters:
Susan Jaffe, Susan Jones, Irina Kolpakova,
Clinton Luckett, Nancy Raffa
Ormsby Wilkins, Music Director
Kelly Ryan, Director of Press and Public Relations
James Timm, Director of Marketing and Brand Management
Susan Morgan, Manager of Press and Online Media

Dr. Roberta E. Zlokower
July 7, 2012 Matinee

(Read More ABT Reviews)

Le Corsaire (1856, Paris; 1998, ABT): Staged by Anna-Marie Holmes after Marius Petipa and Konstantin Sergeyev, Music by Adolphe Adam, Cesare Pugni, Leo Delibes, Riccardo Drigo, and Prince Oldenbourg, Music reorchestrated by Kevin Galie, 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 Irina Tibilova, Additional Costume Design by Robert Perdziola, Lighting Design by Mary Jo Dondlinger.

This sumptuous ballet takes place in Turkey. In a busy bazaar, slave girls are being traded, but a pirate, Conrad, falls in love with one, Medora, who is the object of desire of the Pasha, who has already bought her and her friend, Gulnare, from Lankendem, owner of the bazaar. Conrad and his pirates kidnap Lankendem and steal Medora. In Conrad’s grotto, after the infamous slave dance, Medora persuades him to free all the slave girls. Birbanto tries to thwart his master and help the pirates keep the slaves, and, after first losing one battle, he drugs his master with a potion on a rose. Medora saves her pirate from his mutinous men, and wounds Birbanto. After additional small battles, Conrad pursues Medora, now stolen by Lankendem.
Back at the Pasha’s palace, and within a dream garden, the Pasha delights in his purchased slaves, Medora and Gulnare, and dreams about all of his women in shades of pastel. When the Pasha invites some pilgrims into the palace, they are actually Conrad, Birbanto, and the pirates, and they reclaim Medora and Gulnare, who exposes Birbanto as a traitor. Conrad shoots his assistant, and Ali, the slave, helps Medora, Conrad, and Gulnare escape on a ship. A storm brews, and the ship sinks. Everyone perishes, but Conrad and Medora, who remain clinging to a rock, from the strength of their love. (ABT Program Notes).

Cast on July 2, 2012:

Conductor: David LaMarche

Performed by Marcelo Gomes as Conrad, Craig Salstein as Birbanto, his friend, Ethan Stiefel as Ali, the slave, Sascha Radetsky as Lankendem, owner of the bazaar, Gillian Murphy as Medora, Stella Abrera as Gulnare, Medora’s friend, Victor Barbee as Seyd, Pasha of the Isle of Cos, Kristi Boone as Lead Pirate Woman, Sarah Lane, Adrienne Schulte, Isabella Boylston as Odalisques, Kristi Boone and Craig Salstein and Company in Pirates’ Dance and Forband, Julio Bragado-Young as Pasha’s Assistant, and the Company as Pirates, Pirate Women, Red Guards, Merchants, Bazaar Women, Pirates’ Dance, Forband, Women in Yellow, Women in Orange, Women in Red, Pasha’s Wives, and Children from the Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis School at ABT.

Cast on July 7, 2012:

Conductor: Charles Barker

Gennadi Saveliev as Conrad, Arron Scott as Birbanto, his friend, Ivan Vasiliev as Ali, the slave, Jared Matthews as Lankendem, owner of the bazaar, Irina Dvorovenko as Medora, Yuriko Kajiya as Gulnare, Medora’s friend, Roman Zhurbin as Seyd, Pasha of the Isle of Cos, Luciana Paris as Lead Pirate Woman, Simone Messmer, Adrienne Schulte, Devon Teuscher as Odalisques, Luciana Paris and Arron Scott and Company in Pirates’ Dance and Forband, Julio Bragado-Young as Pasha’s Assistant, and the Company as Pirates, Pirate Women, Red Guards, Merchants, Bazaar Women, Pirates’ Dance, Forband, Women in Yellow, Women in Orange, Women in Red, Pasha’s Wives, and Children from the Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis School at ABT.

On July 2, I attended Le Corsaire to see Ethan Stiefel dance one more time, before his Farewell, which I would unfortunately miss, due to scheduling. And, of course, I wanted to see him partner Gillian Murphy, his real life partner. On July 7, matinee, I attended the same ballet to share it with my eight year-old niece, who dances ballet and loves ABT’s productions. She adored it, even though it was about 100 degrees outside. And, with Ivan Vasiliev, as Ali, the Slave, balletomanes finally had a substitute for Jose Carreño, who starred in that bravura role for years, before he retired last season. On July 2, Mr. Stiefel was dancing for the next to last time with the Company, and as Ali, with Ms. Murphy as Medora, the abducted Greek woman, they brought down the house, for sentimental and poignant reasons, as did Angel Corella and Paloma Herrera in Corella’s Farewell, last week. Their eyes were fixed fast on each other, especially in the Pas de Deux, with Ms. Murphy’s flirty fouettés and Mr. Stiefel’s backward circular leaps, that end with floor lunges at Ms. Murphy’s feet.

Conrad the pirate was Marcelo Gomes, who is in love with Medora (story plot above). Mr. Gomes had his own bravura solos, plus the renowned Pas de Deux à Trois with Ms. Murphy and Mr. Stiefel. They danced for history tonight, as even quasi-Farewells (such as this) are always extra-hormonal, especially in the case of a male principal. Stella Abrera was Medora’s friend, Gulnare, and Sascha Radetsky (her own real life partner) was Lankendem, who sells Medora and Gulnare at a Turkish auction to Seyd, the Pasha of the Isle of Cos, a campy, comical Victor Barbee. Craig Salstein was a dynamic and vigorous Birbanto, Conrad’s “friend”, who drugs him with a powdery rose. His Pirates’ Dance with Kristi Boone was wild and wanton, with the audience vocally thrilled. Kudos to David LaMarche for the eclectic and pulsating score.

On July 7, it was Ivan Vasiliev, the new Russian dancer onstage, who brought down the house. As the new Russian ballerina Semionova wowed the Swan Lake crowd last week, on the heels of Corella’s Farewell, now it was Ivan Vasiliev, the new Russian danseur, who took the stage just before Stiefel’s Farewell. Mr. Vasiliev created hysterics in the audience, catching my niece’s full attention. To add to the matinee excitement, it was a surprise Farewell for soloist, Gennadi Saveliev, who had the role of Conrad the pirate. The Pas de Deux à Trois was beyond imagination, as Mr. Saveliev is still in his prime, dancing up a storm in triple turns and indescribable en air athletics. But, it was Mr. Vasiliev, shorter and compact, a new face and character, who literally achieved incomparable heights in jumps and dizzying spins. People were screaming.

Irina Dvorovenko, a frequent partner of Mr. Saveliev, was Medora today, and she danced with sultry exoticism. Arron Scott was Conrad’s “friend”, Birbanto, a seething manipulator, capturing maidens and more, and Roman Zhurbin was a frolicking, bumbling, comical Pasha. Today’s Russian cast meshed gloriously for onstage fireworks and flourishes. Luciana Paris and Mr. Scott danced the Pirate Dance, and today’s Odalisques were exquisite, especially Simone Messmer. Yuriko Kajiya was an enchanting Gulnare, Medora’s friend, and Jared Matthews was Lankendem, the owner of the bazaar. Kudos to Charles Barker for keeping up with the aerobic mayhem.

For more information, contact Dr. Roberta E. Zlokower at