Le Corsaire (The Pirate) follows the escapades of a dashing pirate, Conrad, who journeys across the high seas to save his beautiful harem girl, Medora. It is a swashbuckling fantasy tale of captive maidens and cutthroats, love and betrayal.
Full of action, passion and romance, this classic story ballet has been reinvented by English National Ballet, the only UK company to perform the complete work.
This extravagant and exhilarating production enthralled audiences and received rave reviews when it premiered in 2013. Staged by Anna-Marie Holmes, with the breath-taking sets by Hollywood designer Bob Ringwood (Batman) Le Corsaire is an unmissable, entertaining adventure.
A pirate ship sails across the high seas, captained by our hero Conrad and his faithful pirate crew: they are on a mission to rescue Medora, Conrad’s love, from the hands of the slave trader Lankendem.
Act I – The Bazaar
Lankendem is selling his slave girls in a busy market place. Conrad suddenly spies Medora peering from a balcony, and she throws Conrad a rose as proof of her feelings towards him.
When the Pasha, the Governor of the citadel, arrives, Lankendem presents three young women he wants to sell to him. All three are soon rejected, so Lankendem presents the enigmatic Gulnare. The Pasha buys her immediately. Meanwhile Medora attempts to escape with the help of Conrad’s slave, Ali, but is stopped. Peering under her veils, the Pasha is taken by Medora’s beauty and insists she dance for him.
As Medora dances everyone is entranced by her beauty; the Pasha, unable to resist such temptation, buys her as well. Consumed with love for her, Conrad commands Ali and 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, promising her all his treasures and possessions. Birbanto, the second in command, confronts Conrad, for all the riches are not his to give.
After Medora, Conrad and Ali dance to entertain the crew of pirates, she pleads for the slave girls’ freedom. Conrad agrees, but Birbanto rebels: a ferocious fight ensues with Conrad victorious.
Birbanto devises a devious plan: he sprays a rose with a sleeping potion, which send Conrad into a drugged sleep. As Conrad lays unconscious, he decides to kidnap Medora, who cuts his arms when trying to defend herself.
In the confusion, Lankendem steals her back and escapes. When Conrad awakes, Birbanto feigns ignorance: his captain vows to rescue his love again.
Act III – The Pasha’s Palace
Gulnare is entertaining the Pasha and the Vizier when they are interrupted by Lankendem entering the palace with Medora. The Pasha is delighted Medora has been recaptured and declares he will make her his most treasured wife.
To celebrate, he smokes on his opium pipe and soon falls asleep, and dreams of his harem in his fantasy garden, with Gulnare and Medora dancing amongst flowers.
The Pasha is awakened by the arrival of Conrad, Birbanto and the pirates disguised as merchants, minstrels and conjurors. They trick their way into the palace, before revealing their true identities: Conrad and his men chase away the Pasha as the pirates dance in victory. Birbanto suddenly rushes in chasing Gulnare, and Medora then exposes Birbanto as a traitor and Conrad shoots him. Ali helps Medora, Gulnare and Conrad escape and they flee to the ship, now reunited.
“Le Corsaire is all about dancing fireworks”
“A roaring success”
“Overflowing with colourful costumes, pirates, sumptuous scenery and dance party pieces”