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The Mesmerizing Le Corsaire Comes Alive On Stage

Christine Shevchenko in Le Corsaire. Photo: Rosalie O’Connor.
The brilliance of the ongoing season at American Ballet Theatre was enhanced on the evening of Thursday, June 13th, with a dazzling performance of Le Corsaire, one of the most entertaining productions in the company’s repertory and a genuine crowd-pleaser.
The work has a complicated history. The scenario is very loosely adapted from The Corsair, a celebrated poem by Lord Byron. With new choreography by the legendary Marius Petipa for St. Petersburg’s Maryinsky Ballet—replacing that of the original Paris Opera production—the current version is a revision by Konstantin Sergeyev, effectively staged by Anna-Marie Holmes. The enjoyable score—excellently conducted here by Ormsby Wilkins—is apparently mainly by Adolphe Adam, extensively revised and with additions by Cesare Pugni, with further accretions composed by Léo Delibes, Riccardo Drigo and Prince Oldenbourg, and reorchestrated by Kevin Gale. The appealing sets and costumes were designed by Irina Tibilova, with lighting by Mary Jo Dondlinger.
The event was especially thrilling for its superb cast, featuring the extraordinary guest artist Brooklyn Mack in the title role of Conrad, the pirate, beautifully partnered by the wonderful Ukrainian ballerina Christine Shevchenko as Medora, a young Greek woman. Gabe Stone Shayer further cemented his great distinction in this company playing Birbanto, Conrad’s ultimately disloyal friend, while the marvelous Joo Won Ahn confidently replaced an injured Daniil Simkin in the scene-stealing role of Ali, the slave.
Excellent support was given by Aran Bell as Lankendem, owner of the bazaar at Adrianople, and Cassandra Trenary as Gulnare, Medora’s friend. Also entrancing were Zhong-Jing Fang as the lead Pirate Woman and Wanyue Qiao, Brittany Degrofft, and Katherine Williams as the mesmerizing trio of Odalisques, while Roman Zhurbin amused in the comic role of Seyd, pasha of the Isle of Cos. Finally, the fabulouscorps de ballet,which has moved from strength to strength this season, again enchanted.
The excitement at American Ballet Theatre continues next week with the revival of Manon by the celebrated 20th-century choreographer, Kenneth MacMillan.

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