Tonight, Tuesday 10 May, until 15 May, the curtain of the Teatro Costanzi in Rome rises on Le Corsaire, a version that José Carlos Martínez created for the Rome Opera Ballet in 2020 but which had its run cut short by the closure of theatres due to the pandemic.
The Royal Ballet principal Vadim Muntagirov, and Jacopo Tissi, who was appointed principal dancer of the Bolshoi Theatre on 31 December 2021, both make their debuts with the company and play Conrad in alternating casts. Another Royal Ballet principal, Marianela Nuñez, will dance the role of Medora for the first time. Maia Makhateli, who was due to dance Medora in 2020, is cast alongside Tissi. Company dancers Susanna Salvi and Alessio Rezza will dance these roles in further performances.
The theatre's director said,
I'm happy to finally see this ballet on stage. Also I'm pleased that, together with our talented dancers, Le Corsaire marks the debut at the Teatro dell'Opera by Jacopo Tissi who in this terrible time of war has made a very strong and significant personal and professional choice. Once again our theatre confirms its bonds with Ukrainian artists, and we welcome to the podium the Kiev conductor Alexei Baklan.
Le Corsaire has always been for me one of the most important ballets in the repertoire a classic with a great deal of dancing, and an important vehicle for our dancers. Presenting it in 2020 in Rome with Martínez was a unique opportunity, and after a two-year pause it has finally made its way back to our stage.
Le Corsaire appeared for the first time at the Rome Opera in 2008 in the version of Vyacheslav Khomyakov. Martínez explains his production:
In general, Le Corsaire is a series of variations to show off the technique of the performers with a very confused and over complex libretto. For me it was essential to make the audience understand what is happening on stage, so I reduced the length of the ballet so that there are only two acts and I made the plot more accessible.
I eliminated the character of Ali, who didn't add anything to the action, and I highlighted the main story, that of the two characters Medora and Conrad. I kept all the variations and pas de deux that show the technique of the principal and secondary roles, but at the service of the action. All the highlights of the choreography are still there, which I believe is especially important because they have been passed down from generation to generation. I care deeply about tradition and respect it, and I want the audience to be able to trace links with the original in my version. I have tried to give the ballet greater fluidity because I think that classical ballet today must be danced in a more dynamic way. The work at the Rome Opera Ballet has greatly enriched me, and I have appreciated the high standard of its corps de ballet.
The photos are from the dress rehearsal on Saturday 7 May 2022.
Graham Spicer is a writer, director and photographer in Milan, blogging (under the name ‘Gramilano') about dance, opera, music and photography for people “who are a bit like me and like some of the things I like”. He was a regular columnist for Opera Now magazine and wrote for the BBC until transferring to Italy.
His scribblings have appeared in various publications from Woman's Weekly to Gay Times, and he wrote the ‘Danza in Italia' column for Dancing Times magazine.