In 2013 English National Ballet became the first British company to perform the complete work of Le Corsaire, which they revisited this January at The Coliseum. The classic 19th-century, three act ballet is inspired by Lord Byron's 1814 poem The Corsair and is an orientalist fantasy created in Imperial Russia telling the thrilling, swashbuckling tale of dashing pirates, shipwrecks, opium-fuelled dreams and slave harem girls.
Principal Laurretta Summerscales is flawless as the lead female role of Medora but Le Corsaire is best known for its strong male roles and this production excelled here, from guest dancer Osiel Gouneo as the lead pirate Conrad, Principal Yonah Acosta (Carlos Acosta's nephew) as Conrad's friend Birbanto and the outstanding Junior Soloist Cesar Corrales as slave Ali who flew across the stage with spectacular leaps, explosive jumps and dizzyingly fast turns. The production features a number of celebrated scenes, including the dreamy le jardin animé with the corps and children in pastel costumes dancing amongst the flowers in a rose garden and the famous Le Corsaire pas de deux.
The production is staged by Anna-Marie Holmes with original set designs and fabulously exotic costumes by Bob Ringwood. Rather bizarrely, the score features work by nine composers - including Adolphe Adam, Cesare Pugni and Leo Delibes - so it lacks memorable leitmotifs or thematic consistency. Nevertheless, the English National Ballet Philharmonic's performance was energetic and rousing and fuelled this vibrant, colourful spectacle ideal for cheering up winter nights.
At the London Coliseum until 24 January
Palais Garnier, 21-25 June 2016