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Total duration 2 h 30 min
2 intermissions (25 min)
11 performances
25.9.2020 – 16.10.2020
Main Stage
15-109 €

A ballet that will take you by storm

Pirate Conrad’s beloved Medora is about to be wed to a high-ranking Pasha. The pirates set off to rescue the beautiful maiden. Will the lovers find happiness on the high seas?

The Pirate – Le Corsaire takes the audience to faraway lands, Oriental palaces, and the southern seas of yesteryear. The virtuoso dance feats will delight ballet connoisseurs and first-time visitors alike.

We recommend the performances to visitors over the age of 7.

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Please stay home if you have symptoms. You can cancel your tickets and refreshments as late as 24 hours before the performance starts. Read more about our safety recommendations here.

Performances & Tickets

2 h 30 min
2 intermissions (25 min)
11 performances
25.9.2020 – 16.10.2020
Main Stage
15-109 €
Fri 25.9.2020
at 19:00
Sat 26.9.2020
at 14:00
Sat 26.9.2020
at 18:00
Wed 30.9.2020
at 19:00
Fri 2.10.2020
at 19:00
Sat 3.10.2020
at 14:00
Tue 6.10.2020
at 19:00
Wed 7.10.2020
at 19:00
Fri 9.10.2020
at 19:00
Wed 14.10.2020
at 19:00
Fri 16.10.2020
at 19:00

#lecorsaire #lecorsaireballet

“Fabulously entertaining… if you’ve never been to a ballet, trust me, this is the place to start.”

– The Observer

“A swaggering, bravura spectacle… glorious, unabashed fun.”

– Evening Standard

“Three acts are jam-packed with display dancing, the kind that ballet audiences love to see.”

– The Times

Creative team

Staging (after petipa and sergeyev)
Anna-Marie Holmes
Sets, costumes
Bob Ringwood
Lighting design
Neil Austin



Conrad, the captain of a pirate ship, arrives at a village to save his beloved Medora from the slave trader Lankendem. Lankendem is presenting the slave women to the Pasha, the Governor of the citadel. The Pasha takes interest in Gulnare. Ali, Conrad’s slave, has freed Medora, who is trying to run away, but the Pasha wants her for himself. Led by Conrad, the pirates attack the citadel and kidnap Medora and Lankendem to their hideout.

At the hideout, Conrad promises riches to Medora, but Birbanto, another pirate, reminds him that the treasures are not his to give. Conrad organises a party, and after the festivities Medora begs him to free all the slave girls. Conrad agrees to this, but Birbanto and the other pirates rebel against him. Birbanto loses the fight, but he plans to give Medora a rose sprayed with sleeping potion. Conrad ends up smelling the rose and falls asleep. The other pirates plot to kidnap Medora, but in the confusion Lankendem manages to steal Medora again. When Conrad wakes up, he wants to rescue Medora, but Birbanto pretends to know nothing of her fate.

While Gulnare is dancing for the Pasha, Lankendem arrives, delivering Medora to him. The Pasha plans to make her his most treasured wife and send her to his harem. Asleep, the Pasha dreams of his harem in a lush garden. The disguised pirates arrive at the Pasha’s palace. At the Pasha’s private rooms, where Medora and Gulnare are dancing around him, Conrad and Birbanto reveal their identities. Medora exposes Birbanto as a traitor and Conrad shoots him. Medora, Gulnare and Conrad escape to the ship with the help of Ali. The ship sinks in a storm, and Medora and Conrad are united in eternal love.

You can read the full synopsis and other background information in the programme leaflet.

Old world charm

Le Corsaire is a grand classical ballet, which had its world premiere in the mid-19th century. Like so many works of art in this age, when visiting foreign countries was a luxury reserved to the few, it evokes the atmosphere of far-off lands and Oriental exoticism.

Anna-Marie Holmes’s choreography at the Finnish National Ballet is based on the traditional versions of the ballet classic by Marius Petipa and Konstantin Sergeyev. The Hollywood-esque costumes and sets reflect the opulence of the original mid-19th century productions.


Famous composers come together

The score of Le Corsaire evolved along with the rest of the ballet during the 19th century. The end result is a medley by several well-known ballet composers.

Adolphe Adam’s pirate-themed ballet music laid the foundations for the score. In Marius Petipa’s choreography performed in St. Petersburg in 1858, it was complemented with music by Cesare Pugni and Duke Peter of Oldenburg, and in Paris in 1867 with Léo Delibes’s divertissement Pas des fleurs. Towards the end of the century, Petipa returned to revise the work, adding music by Riccardo Drigo and Ludwig Minkus.

Listen to Le Corsaire

English National Ballet has rented production to FNB.

Photos Laurent Liotardo / English National Ballet
Video English National Ballet

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A season ticket guarantees you a seat for all our premieres, which amount to 7 in the 2020–21 season. Two of these include more than one work, so your season ticket gives you access to a total of 10 memorable productions. You will also enjoy a dedicated seat in the auditorium and a dozen more substantial benefits.

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Sweet and savoury treats

Choose your favourite refreshments from this season’s tasty menu. You can easily add refreshments to your shopping basket while selecting tickets in our online store.

The services of the Opera Restaurant are available before performances and during the interval. Order beforehand and avoid the queues.

Please note that we cannot guarantee a specific table for orders made via the online store. We may also seat several parties at the same table. You may be assigned a bar height table for enjoying refreshments standing up.

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Complete your experience by staying the night at a hotel. As a customer of the Finnish National Opera and Ballet, you can enjoy the hospitality of Helsinki’s Radisson Blu Hotels at a special rate.

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