Giselle - The Ballet

The Ballet

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The Ballet

Giselle was first presented by the Ballet du Théâtre de l'Académie Royale de Musique, Paris, France, on June 28, 1841.

Carlotta Grisi in Giselle. Paris, 1841

Giselle is a ballet by Adolphe Adam. It consiste of two acts, two scenes, with a libretto by Jules-Henri Vernoy de Saint-Georges and Théophile Gautier. Giselle was originally choreographed by Jean Coralli and Jules Perrot (the principal Ballerina's dances), but the choreography of nearly all modern productions derives from Marius Petipa's revivals for the Imperial Ballet (1884, 1899, 1903).

Patricia Boccadoro, dance editor for, suggests that Giselle is the most perfect of the Romantic ballets 'because it is not only breathtaking visually, but deals with real people. Every woman can identify with Giselle and share her feelings, while most men sympathise either with Albrecht or Hilarion. They know what it is to fall deeply in love with someone you have no right to, or to flirt selfishly with a young girl and break her heart.'

While Giselle is, on one level, a simple rustic tale, the ballet showcases the skills of the lead artists, and also separates those who have a flair for drama from those who may have the technique, but don't rise to become the character.

Giselle is naive, vulnerable, innocent, in love, in despair, mad, forgiving and self-sacrificing ... and more. Albtrecht is an insensitive, selfish man who realises too late that he has both fallen in love and destroyed the object of his love; he shows contrition, courage and even understanding of what happens to him and around him. The supporting characters of Hilarion and Mirtha and also have wide dramatic roles, too.

The two acts could not be more different; the first act being colourful, bright and - for the most part - optimistic and light, while the second, white, act is much more formal, dark and unsettling.


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30 November 2016 | Copyright Andrew Heenan | | Privacy