Le Corsaire

Adolphe Adam and others / Manuel Legris after Marius Petipa 

Ballet in three acts with a prologue and epilogue 
Libretto: Manuel Legris and Jean-François Vazelle after George Byron, Jules-Henri Vernoy de Saint-Georges and Joseph Mazilier
Premiere of this production: 20 March 2016, Wiener Staatsballett
Polish premiere of this production: 20 March 2020, Polish National Ballet

The rigorous lexicon of classical ballet – a ‘gesturebook’ rather than ‘wordbook’ – is sure to bring ornithological associations to a layperson’s mind. Not only because the most iconic and recognisable classical ballet sequence is the ‘White Act’ from Swan Lake. (By the way, the dancers look actually more like herons or flamingos, than swans.) The key thing here is the ‘bird-like’ quality of the dance technique, which has men jerking up their legs in mid-air and women quivering their feet, walking on the tips of their toes, spinning and turning, channelling bird mating rituals and at the same time expressing one of the oldest longings of the human kind: the desire to fly. Whereas Italian is the language of classical opera and classical music in general, French has dominated traditional ballet terminology. Based on George Byron’s tale, the libretto of Le Corsaire offers a kaleidoscope of exotic adventures and attractions: a pirate ship, dancing slave girls, rebellion and abduction in a harem, alfa males fighting over a beautiful Greek lady… illustrated with the last piece ever written by Adolphe Adam, who died a few months after the opening night. Originally staged for the  Wiener Staatsballett, the production is a real treat for everybody who loves the ballet tradition.


Polish National Ballet
Orchestra of the Teatr Wielki – Polish National Opera


  • Patron of Teatr Wielki – Polish National Opera

  • Partners of Teatr Wielki – Polish National Opera

  • Logo Perlage
  • Logo Sisley
  • Logo Albert Riele
  • Partner Polskiego Baletu Narodowego

  • Media patrons