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Classical Ballet Adolphe Adam "Giselle (Les Wilis)" (Ballet in 2 Acts)
Mikhailovsky Classical Ballet and Opera Theatre (established 1833)

Running time: 2 hours 15 minutes

The performance has 1 intermission

Schedule for Adolphe Adam "Giselle (Les Wilis)" (Ballet in 2 Acts) 2022

Composer: Adolphe Adam
Set Designer: Vyacheslav Okunev
Choreography: Marius Petipa
Choreography: Jules Perrot
Choreography: Nikita Dolgushin
Choreography: Jean Coralli
Lighting Designer: Mikhail Mekler

Orchestra: Mikhailovsky Symphony Orchestra

Classical Ballet in 2 act

World premiere: 28 June 1841, Theatre de l`Academie Royal de Musique, Paris
Premiere in Russia: 18 December 1842 Bolshoi Theatre
Premiere of this production: 3 November 2007, Mikhailovsky theatre, St. Petersburg, Russia

Libretto: Vernoy de Saint-Georges, Theophile Gautier

The stage life of Giselle hasn’t been an easy one. After its premiere of 1841 featuring Carlotta Grisi and Lucien Petipa, the ballet was performed in France till 1863, when it disappeared from the repertoire. The ballet has been staged in St.Petersburg since 1842. At the beginning of the 20th century during the ground-breaking Diaghilev’s Russian Seasons, the French saw their national ballet, faithfully nurtured in Russia.

The Mikhailovsky Theatre’s the 2008 production of Giselle by Nikita Dolgushin, a specialist in historical works, managed to amaze both the public and the critics. Dolgushin, a noble Albrecht in his time as a dancer, inspired the creation of the ballet and delicately united dance and mime. He revealed the essence of the romantic ballet, the story of Giselle is told in the language of ballet classicism. Together with Viacheslav Okunev, who designed the epitome of romantic settings, Dolgushin made a production that was described by a British critic ‘an exemplary Giselle’.

Press about the production

Gerald Dowler, Financial Times
Nikita Dolgushin’s staging of Giselle returns to London undiminished: wholly traditional, with lovingly painted sets “after” the original 1841 Paris designs, it presents the choreographic text and narrative unfussily, with accretions stripped away to reveal the work’s essence.

Costumes are plain, especially for the Act II Wilis; the only jarring note is the Act I hunting party, dressed more for a banquet than a saunter in the woods. What the production achieves magnificently, however, is a clear distinction between the sunny, mortal world of Act I and the sinister supernatural one in Act II, the bridge between the two worlds becoming Giselle herself.

This was a performance of the highest standards, not least from the corps of Wilis, the souls of jilted brides dancing as one with impeccable style; such cohesion and engagement are rare indeed. At its heart was guest principal Denis Matvienko’s Albrecht and the Mikhailovsky’s own Irina Perren. Matvienko’s mastery of the role’s technical demands is complete — the solos are carved with assured nobility — but it is both his strong, solicitous partnering of Giselle and his detailed portrayal of the penitent cad that make the greatest mark. His Albrecht initially repels us with his clear desire to possess Giselle — no lovelorn youth he — but his gradual realisation that his desires run deeper is carefully etched, his remorse at her graveside in Act II keenly felt. A notable portrayal.

Perren dances Giselle in a state of grace. Her Act I peasant girl is dangerously naпve, her happiness at Albrecht’s protestations or the receipt of Bertha’s necklace so great one fears her heart will burst — as it must with her wrenchingly portrayed madness induced by his treachery. The shadow of betrayal plunges her world into darkness and leads the way to her grave. It is the transformation from the endearingly simple soul of Act I to the sorrow-laden wraith of Act II that Perren achieves so totally. Her technique serves her artistry completely, with balances held not for show but in defiance of the gravity of the mortal world. An extraordinary achievement.

Copyright © 2013 by Marc Haegeman.


Act I
Count Albert has fallen in love with a peasant girl, Giselle, though she is ignorant of his rank and believes him to be a simple villager staying in a nearby cottage. Giselle has another suitor, Hans, a gamekeeper, who is suspicious and jealous of Albert.
Albert arrives to court Giselle. The young loversґ encounter is interrupted by Hans, who warns Giselle against trusting this unknown admirer, but Giselle does not heed his advice, and Albert drives Hans away.
The sound of horns announces the arrival of a hunting party, amongst whom are Albertґs betrothed, Princess Bathilde, and her father. By chance, they are seeking rest and refreshment in the village, and Bathilde, charmed by Giselleґs innocence and beauty, gives her a gold necklace. When the hunting party retires, the peasants begin to celebrate the new vintage, but Hans has meanwhile searched Albertґs cottage and discovered his sword, proof of his identity. At the height of the festivities, he unmasks Albert. However, Giselle does not believe her loverґs deception. Hans then summons the hunters, who bow before their Count, while Bathilde fondly greets the embarrassed young nobleman. The shock unsettles Giselleґs reason; in her madness, she relives her love for Albert and then, heartbroken, dies.

Act II 
Hans enters in sorrow. He has come at midnight to visit Giselleґs tomb in the forest, but is frightened away by the approach of the Willis, the ghosts of girls who died on the eve of their wedding; arising at night from their tombs, they will dance any man they encounter to death. Myrtha, the Queen of the Wilis, summons Giselle from her tomb and initiates her into their order, but the Willis disperse at the arrival of Albert and his attendant, who are seeking Giselleґs grave.
As the young Count grieves at the tomb, Giselle appears; unbelieving, he tries to catch her, but she eludes his grasp. At last, touched by Albertґs sincere grief and despair, she forgives him.
Hans enters, pursued by the Wilis, who drive him to his death in the lake and then surround Albert, whom Myrtha insists must dance to death. He begs Myrtha for mercy, and Giselle pleads for him, but the Queen is adamant and, as Albert dances, Giselle tries to sustain him with her love.
Dawn breaks; with the daylight, the Wilisґ power is at an end and they disappear, leaving Albert to bid a last farewell to Giselle.

Schedule for Adolphe Adam "Giselle (Les Wilis)" (Ballet in 2 Acts) 2022

Adolphe Adam "Giselle (Les Wilis)"
About This Video
Adolphe Adam "Giselle (Les Wilis)"
Mikhailovsky Classical Ballet and Opera Theatre, St. Petersburg, Russia

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