"A Showcase for and a love letter to a century of amazing music" is how the creator of The Enchanted Island, Jeremy Sams, described this spectacular operatic pasticcio of music by Handel, Vivaldi, Rameau, Purcell and others. Premiered at the Metropolitan in New York on New Year's Eve 2011, it stars Joyce DiDonato, David Daniels, Danielle de Niese and Placido Domingo, and is conducted by William Christie.
Set in the exotic surroundings of the Ottoman Empire and with a narrative encompassing abduction, murder and shipwreck, Le Corsaire is a swashbuckling pirate drama that delights for its spectacular nature and which includes some of the most bravura male dancing in the ballet repertoire. The work’s evolution has been a complex one, its libretto and choreography subject to numerous revisions since its first appearance in Paris in 1856, and in this English National Ballet production – the first British staging of the work – former-ballerina-turned-choreographer Anna-Marie Holmes adapts the 1974 Petipa-Sergeyev Kirov version to create ‘brisk, stylish entertainment’ (Guardian) that is visually enhanced by Hollywood designer Bob Ringwood’s ‘superb’ (Daily Telegraph) Orientalist sets and costumes. First-rate dancing by the company and its soloists – including Alina Cojocaru’s ‘radiant performance’ as Medora (Independent), Yonah Acosta’s ‘vividly drawn and villainous’ Birbanto (Financial Times) and Vadim Muntagirov’s ‘compelling’ (Daily Telegraph) portrayal of Conrad – underscores the ‘roaring, madcap success’ (Financial Times) of this production.
In the "Zorba" ballet suite, Mikis Theodorakis uses almost exclusively well-known popular songs which he composed mainly in the 1960s. Some of them have been incorporated in the work as melodies, some of them as vocal pieces. It took twenty years before the composer became his normal self again; he first had to experience the disillusionment at the end of the 1970s concerning the social progress in Greece in order to be finally able to pick up the musical material, continue the compositional impetus of the 1950s and develop an appreciation for the genre of the opera in the mid-eighties which suits his composer's mentality both as a melodist and as a symphonic composer very well.
Terpsicore (HWV)(8b) is a prologue in the form of an opéra-ballet by George Frideric Handel. Handel composed it in 1734 for a revision of his opera Il pastor fido which had first been presented in 1712. The revision of Il pastor fido with Terpsicore as the prologue was first performed on 9 November 1734 at Covent Garden theatre in London, opening Handel's first season in that newly built theatre. Terpsicore mixes dance along with solo and choral singing and was patterned after models in French operas, a particular source being Les festes grecques et romaines by Louis Fuzelier and Colin de Blamont, first presented in Paris in 1723. The work featured the celebrated French dancer Marie Sallé as well as stars of Handel's Italian operas and was a success with audiences of the day.