American Ballet Theatre
Le Corsaire 2009
Metropolitan Opera House
Kevin McKenzie, Artistic Director
Rachel S. Moore, Executive Director
Alexei Ratmansky, Artist in Residence
Victor Barbee, Associate Artistic Director
Susan Jones, Irina Kolpakova, Georgina Parkinson
Clinton Luckett, Nancy Raffa
Ormsby Wilkins, Music Director
Kelly Ryan, Director of Press and Public Relations
Susan Morgan, Press Associate
Dr. Roberta E. Zlokower
May 30, 2009
(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.
May 27, 2009 Conductor: David LaMarche, Marcelo Gomes as Conrad, Craig Salstein as Birbanto, his friend, Jose Manuel Carreño as Ali, the slave, Gennadi Saveliev as Lankendem, owner of the bazaar, Nina Ananiashvili as Medora, Sarah Lane as Gulnare, Medora’s friend, Victor Barbee as Seyd, Pasha of the Isle of Cos, Luciana Paris as Lead Pirate Woman, Simone Messmer, Kristi Boone, Renata Pavam as Odalisques, Luciana Paris and Craig Salstein and Company in Pirates’ Dance and Forband, Alexei Agoudine 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.
May 30, 2009 Conductor: David LaMarche, Marcelo Gomes as Conrad, Carlos Lopez as Birbanto, his friend, Jose Manuel Carreño as Ali, the slave, Daniil Simkin as Lankendem, owner of the bazaar, Nina Ananiashvili as Medora, Maria Riccetto as Gulnare, Medora’s friend, Roman Zhurbin as Seyd, Pasha of the Isle of Cos, Marian Butler as Lead Pirate Woman, Sarah Lane, Misty Copeland, Yuriko Kajiya as Odalisques, Marian Butler and Carlos Lopez and Company in Pirates’ Dance and Forband, Alexei Agoudine 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.
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. (Program Notes).
The countdown for Nina Ananiashvili’s Farewell has begun, and this week I took in two of her final performances, both as Medora, a young Greek woman who is sold, captured, rescued, captured, and rescued again. This ballet is a campy farce with outstanding virtuosic feats, often synopsized for Galas and Competitions. Ms. Ananiashvili, in a flowing, chiffony belly dance costume, and then another, was enraptured and ever more improvisational, as she winds down her Season with each familiar story ballet. With Victor Barbee, as Seyd, the paunchy, klutzy Pasha, Ms. Ananiashvili crooked her finger to beckon him toward her and then danced beyond his reach. With Roman Zhurbin in the same cartoonish role, she was even more coy and flirtatious, playful and plucky. She spun off 32 fouettés, almost a preview of her Farewell, Swan Lake.
Marcelo Gomes and Jose Manuel Carreño were Conrad, the Pirate, and Ali, the Slave, on both nights, but, somehow, on May 30 they were even more daring, more gravity-defying, more dynamic. Their leaps, twists en air, high jumps, and lunges to the floor, torso bent backward and sideward, drew roars from the crowd. In fact, Ms. Ananiashvili’s impending retirement from ABT added a packed Opera House, an electric ambiance, and breathless stage attention to each of her performances. So, these two Corsaires were history-making, as well.
On May 27, Gennadi Saveliev was Lankendem, the bazaar owner who sells the slaves, and on May 30, Daniil Simkin was cast in this role. These two Soloists could not be more different, as Mr. Saveliev has danced all the male leads in Corsaire, so his performances are noted for new nuance, and he’s always compared to his previous Corsaire performances. He did not disappoint here, and he’s a tall, possessed, wild, and seasoned dancer. Mr. Simkin, youthful, blond, smaller stature but taut, was fascinating for his vibrant interpretation and acrobatic athletics. He dances in the air, almost rarely landing, and he had a cute, impish, transparent take on the role, never intense, always witty. On May 27, Sarah Lane was Medora’s friend and accomplice, while on May 30 Maria Riccetto danced the role. Here, too, the two Soloists gave contrasting presentations. Ms. Lane is perky and petite, ingénue and adorable, whereas Ms. Riccetto is restrained and taller, serious and intense.
As Birbanto, Conrad’s friend and quasi-Brutus, Craig Salstein danced the role on May 27, while Carlos Lopez danced the role on May 30. Mr. Salstein is a supremely theatrical dancer, usually in a campy or vulnerable role. As the traitor Pirate, he had to get beyond humor, while keeping in mind that Le Corsaire is mainly farce. He balanced that task with flair, while Mr. Lopez is a seasoned, menacing actor-dancer. Mr. Lopez seemed cut out to drug his master Pirate and seek to destroy him, but Mr. Salstein was riveting in his new attitude. In the Pirates’ Dance, Luciana Paris and Craig Salstein seemed more musical and lyrical than Marian Butler and Carlos Lopez, but both duos caught my eye with the buoyant rhythms. Of the six Odalisques listed above, Misty Copeland and Yuriko Kajiya were most mesmerizing. Of the two Pashas, Roman Zhurbin seemed the most engaged, so thrilled and absorbed in this role.
The Company rose to the busy, brisk production with energy and enthusiasm. The Children, students at the JKO School at ABT, were outstanding, in Jardin Animé, dancing with floral hoops, as the Pasha dreamed of all his slave wives. Irina Tibilova’s sets and costumes are out-sized and worthy of the largesse of this stage. David LaMarche conducted Ballet Theatre Orchestra with fiery passion and ebullience. Under his baton, the Orchestra seamlessly combined the score of five composers.
Nina Ananiashvili in
Courtesy of MIRA
Marcelo Gomes in
Courtesy of Gene Schiavone