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Ballet and Poetry. Le Corsair and Lord Byron.

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In 1856 the sixth in a previous list of ballets on the subject of pirates was staged by Mazilier to the music of Adam, proving to be one of the most enduring ballets ever created. Le corsaire was first presented by the ballet of the Théâtre Impérial de l´Opéra. Jules-Henri Vernoy de Saint-Georges was commissioned to write the libretto,and so he fashioned a scenario loosely based on Byron's poem "The Corsaire". The libretto for Le Corsair went through many changes during the long months of the ballet's preparation, requiring Vernoy to be paid an additional 3,000 francs for the work.

The rest, as we all know...is history.

Enjoy! :flowers:

The Corsair

by Lord Byron.


By those, that deepest feel, Is ill exprest The indistinctness of the suffering breast; Where thousand thoughts begin to end in one, Which seeks from all the refuge found in none; No words suffice the secret soul to show, For Truth denies all eloquence to Woe. On Conrad's stricken soul exhaustion prest, And stupor almost lull'd it into rest; So feeble now - his mother's softness crept To those wild eyes, which like an infant's wept: It was the very weakness of his brain, Which thus confess'd without relieving pain. None saw his trickling tears - perchance if seen, That useless flood of grief had never been: Nor long they flow'd - he dried them to In helpless -hopeless - brokenness of heart: The sun goes forth, but Conrad's day is dim; And the night cometh - ne'er to pass from him. There is no darkness like the cloud of mind, On Grief's vain eye - the blindest of the blind! Which may not - dare not see but turns aside To blackest shade - nor will endure a guide!


His heart was form'd for softness - warp'd to wrong; Betray'd too early, and beguiled too long; Each feeling pure - as falls the dropping dew Within the grot - like that had harden'd too; Less clear perchance, its earthly trials pass'd, But sunk, and chill'd, and petrified at last. Yet tempests wear, and lightning cleaves the rock; If such his heart, so shatter'd it the shock. There grew one flower beneath its rugged brow, Though dark the shade - it shelter'd - saved till now. The thunder came - that bolt hath blasted both, The Granite's firmness, and the Lily' growth: The gentle plant hath left no leaf to tell Its tale, but shrunk and wither'd where it fell And of its cold protector, blacken round But shiver'd fragments on the barren ground!


'Tis morn - to venture on his lonely hour Few dare; though now Anselmo sought his tower. He was not there, nor seen along the shore; Ere night, alarm'd, their isle is traversed o'er: Another morn - another bids them seek, And shout his name till echo waxeth weak; Mount: grotto, cavern, valley search'd in vain, They find on shore a sea-boat's broken chain: Their hope revives-they follow o'er the main. 'Tis idle all - moons roll on moons away, And Conrad comes not, came not since that day: Nor trace, nor tidings of his doom declare Where lives his grief, or perish'd his despair! Long mourn'd his band whom none could mourn beside; And fair the monument they gave his bride: For him they raise not the recording stone - His death yet dubious, deeds too widely known; He left a Corsair's name to other times, Link'd with one virtue, and a thousand crimes.


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I love all of Byron and read Le Corsair to get some background to the ballet some years ago. By pure coincidence the Bolshoi has just finished a series of Corsaires in London and although the story line doesn't match what Byron wrote, I always feel the Bolshoi version has a more Byronic feel than other productions I've seen.

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