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Le Corsaire -- versions still in performance

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My original intention was to post a small question about variations in the Jardin Anime scene of Le Corsaire that I have seen only in St. Petersburg's Moussorgsky Ballet (ex-Maly Ballet). However, why not begin this thread on Le Corsaire, in general? I believe that we've opened threads on practically every other major 19th-century classic here! :)

Big question:

What versions of the complete 'Le Corsaire' are being danced nowadays?

I've seen three distinct versions live (Mariinsky, Moussorgsky & ABT) & have heard of a fourth version that alas was not in rep when I lived in Moscow (Briantsev's updating of a 1950s version at the Stanislavsky).

Analyzing 'my' three versions, the Maly-Moussorgsky's remains, without a doubt, the longest, most complete & satisfying version of all. I rank ABT's second...yes, it contains more dancing and more of the Maly-Moussorgsky version's music than does the Kirov-Mariinsky's. The most disappointingly brief (the "Corsaire Lite" among versions) is the Kirov-Mariinsky's although it is delightful in & of itself and retains the most important choreographic gems.

Now for my "little question" which, I hope, Doug or another 'Corsaire' authority may be able to answer:

What is the origin/provenance of the two delightful "demi soloist" variations that are performed today only in the Maly-Moussorgsky's Jardin Anime scene?

Each of the two variations is performed by two girls, i.e., two girls dancing together, in each case. The first is a delicate dance to a pizzicatto tune that sounds vaguely familiar (similar to Niriti's variation in the Talisman pdd) and the second is a more vigorous allegro dance to the male variation tune used by Balanchine (& Ashton) in the Sylvia pas de deux.

Incidentally, the Maly-Moussorgsky credits its long production to Peter Gusev "after Petipa" (late 50s staging)....the same Peter Gusev who staged the current Kirov version (1987). How odd that two such very different versions were staged by Gusev!

Thanks for any clues regarding these 'mystery variations' in the Jardin Anime.

Natalia Nabatova

p.s. I realize that ABTs version came to NY via Boston....via Moscow/Bolshoi (K. Sergeyev's short-lived version). However, neither Boston nor the Bolshoi seem to maintain the complete Corsaire in their rep nowadays.

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I have to say that the Kirov version of Le Corsaire doesn't do it for me. I love the ABT one!

The first variation is performed by Gulnare (Gulnara in some versions) who is another slave that is bought by the Pasha who also bought Medora and he is dreaming about his two prized posessions! Gulnare's variation is played by the harp and woodwinds with pizzicato from the strings as far as I can tell but Medora's variation that I have seen isn't the one that you are talking about. For the ABT one, Medora dances to a piece that is credited to Pugni, Minkus, Delibes and Ivanov. It is probably an old folk Russian tune that one of these four has adapted and then another orchestrated so I'm not sure about that one. But the ABT's version of the Pas de Fleurs (Jardin Anime) bores me. Everything else is great. Except the Pas de Fleurs.

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Thanks for seeing & answering this, Doug.

Yes, I was amazed at how different they are. I suspect that the newer (1987 - Kirov) version is more the work of Oleg Vinogradov than Mr. Gusev, who was quite elderly at the time.

Also, in re-reading my notes jotted at the time when I saw the Maly's version (4-5 years ago), I wonder if the initial 'duet variation' to pizzicatto music is to the famous pizzicatto solo of 'Sylvia', rather than 'never-before-heard' music? Sometimes I have trouble reading my own notes, scribbled in the dark during a performance! All I know, with certainty, is that the Maly presents their Jardin Anime with these two 'extra' two-female variations -- one to pizzicatto music (maybe the 'Sylvia' female var...but I would have known to jot that down!) and the other to the 'Sylvia' male variation's music. The female-solo variations (Gulnare and Medora) are the familiar ones -- same music & same steps-- as performed elsewhere.

I've been to StP 'dozens' of times since I saw this lone performance but never quite hit-it-right to see a repeat performance of the Maly 'Corsaire'. On the other hand, I've seen their 'Esmeralda' umpteen times. I seem to hit the 'Esmeralda' track every time I'm in town!


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I have an old russian / french / english piano booklet (some parts are in English, some in French, most in Russian. It dates from 1927) of the score for "Jardin Anime".

The opening waltz and adagio have no title before them, they just simply say "Valse", and "adagio".

The 1st variation says "solo and variation Medora / Leo Delibes 1867" (I thought "Jardin Anime" was added in by Delibes WAY before this date, but then maybe it was one of Petipa's early revivals of the ballet that saw this piece of music added), this is the variation danced by the Kirov nowadays for Medora. There are 2 more variations following that (the 2nd says "solo and variation Preobrajenskaja / Riccardo Drigo 1898" this variation being the "Jardin Anime" solo of Gulnare, and the 3rd just says "solo and variaiton" with niether a composer, year, or character credited like the other 2 variations. This is a variation I have never seen performed anywhere or ever heard before (it is a beautiful melody in 4/4 moderato, a standard "specialist" composer variation from the 19th century). Quite possibly an extra variation composed by who knows for whichever dancer found it to thier fancy.

Next it just says "Coda" for the coda.

Now that I think about it, and having just watched the Kirovs version of "Corsaire", the music of the variation for Medora does sound alot like it is in fact by Delibes, as far as its orchestration goes. The pizzicato / harp variation danced by Gulnare does have the Drigo stamp on it (many of his female variations were a pizzicati) though who really knows.

Unfortunatly, the only language I speak or read is English, so the rest of the booklet that is in Russian, that seems to have most of the info about this strange old booklet (I got it on ebay), I cannot read. The parts in French are few, and I have an online translator.

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Thanks for seeing & answering this, Doug.

Yes, I was amazed at how different they are.  I suspect that the newer (1987 - Kirov) version is more the work of Oleg Vinogradov than Mr. Gusev, who was quite elderly at the time.

On the DVD of the Kirov's staging, the production is credited to both Gusev and Vinogradov.

I would like to know, as well, what happened to the original! When was it dismembered and reassembled :blink: Beaumont (Cyril W., "Complete Book of the Ballets") writes of a serious ballet, whose ballerina (Rosati) brought the audience to tears. One major change (I write this from memory!) is that Medora and Conrad knew each other when the ballet opens, and that Lankedehm was her GUARDIAN! and sold her to the Pasha. (Needed the extra cash? Medora had been lax with the chores?) A lot of music has been added -- Beaumont credits Adam with the score -- so it must be a patchwork quilt of a ballet.

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