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Adam: Le Corsaire [Ballet du Capitole] Blu-ray Review

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The Film

[Rating:4.5/5]

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Harkening back to ballet’s golden age, Le Corsaire was inspired by Lord Byron’s poem with original choreography by Joseph Mazilier and score by Adolphe Adam. Of course, today’s balletomanes will be much more familiar with one of the several versions created by legendary Russian choreographer Marius Petipa. This 2013 Theatre du Capitole production is a complete reworking of the ballet by choreographer Kader Belarbi, using a score augmented by music director David Coleman, including some of his own compositions and selections by Leo Delibes, Jules Massenet, Anton Arenski, Edouard Lalo, and Jean Sibelius.

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The ballet opens as a veiled Slave-Girl (Maria Gutierrez) is being sold at auction. A wealthy Sultan (Takafumi Watanabe) outbids the Corsair (Davit Galstyan) to the displeasure of his Favorite (Juliette Thelin). The Corsair secretly exchanges his disguised Companion (Demian Vargas) for the Slave-girl and the pair fall in love. When the Sultan discovers the deception, he beats the Companion and takes off with the Slave-girl.

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The Slave-girl enters the Sultan’s harem and successfully avoids his advances, as the jealous Favorite looks on with satisfaction. Later, at the palace, the Slave-girl performs a seductive solo dance for the Sultan who finally forces himself on her. The Favorite helps the Corsair gain access to the Slave-girl but the Sultan interrupts their brief encounter, imprisons the Corsair and sentences him to death.

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In prison, the Corsair dreams about his beloved. The Favorite has enabled the Companion and the Slave-girl to return to the Corsair. However, she has also alerted the palace guards who detain the Companion while the Corsair and the Slave-girl escape.

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The Corsair and his lover reach the corsairs’ den and are jubilantly greeted by his pirate band. The couple dances a pas de deux that is the ballet’s most famous number. The Sultan and his entourage break into the scene and overpower the corsairs who are led off to prison. The Corsair and the slave-girl are put on a ship and, overwhelmed by the waves, they face eternity together.

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A ballet in the grand style and with excellent production values, this revised version of Le Corsaire offers superb dancing and musical direction.

Video Quality

[Rating:4.5/5]

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A simply gorgeous shoot in all respects. The videographers catch the essence of each scene and there are plenty of great ballet numbers to view. Details and colors are eye-popping and the overall image is nearly holographic. The major quibble derives from the sparse sets, made to seem even more sparse by contrast with the beautiful costumes.

Audio Quality

[Rating:4.5/5]

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The audio balances between orchestra and stage are as good as it gets. Stage noise, as expected in ballet, is present but not obtrusive. The DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 soundtrack is far superior to its two-channel counterpart.

Supplemental Materials

[Rating:1.5/5]

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A program booklet and a cast gallery are our only extras, a real shame since it would have been most informative to get choreographer Belarbi’s thoughts on his very considerable reworking of a time-honored ballet. The numbering of the dances in the printed program are about five chapters ahead of the actual dances.

The Definitive Word

Overall:

[Rating:4.5/5]

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This is a Blu-ray that will make ballet lovers stand up and cheer. Sparse sets aside (and this exotic ballet really deserved more in the way of staging) the level of dance, the inventiveness of the choreography, the beauty of the costumes, and page after page of glorious music thoroughly invested by Maestro Coleman, make this a two-hour journey of continuous pleasure and delight. The Act II Pas de deux is an absolute showstopper and demands rewind. Le Corsaire may not have the cachet of Giselle (Adam’s best known work) but it will surely entertain today’s audiences as much as it did a century and a half ago, as judged by the response of those in attendance. Highly recommended.

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