Although it was born in Paris (Vernoy de Saint-Georges/Mazilier, 1856), “Le Corsaire” is no prophet in its own land. Its lascivious oriental patterns could have been fashioned out by Nerval, Chateaubriand or Dumas' literary orientalism. Yet “Le Corsaire” was based on an eponymous poem by a hereditary frenemy's icon: the Englishman Lord Byron. In spite of its roaring success, in the upper spheres of the Second Empire, the exotic ballet soon started to sail away “over the glad waters of the dark blue sea,” thus falling into disuse at the Paris Opera.
Tamara Rojo and Osiel Gouneo in English National Ballet's “Le Corsaire.” Photograph by Laurent Liotardo