28 March & 1 April 2018
March 28, 2018
April 1, 2018
Parkstad Limburgtheaters Heerlen
National Opera & Ballet Theater of Ukraine, Odessa
A ballet from the romance of Adolphe Adam (1803-1856)
Libretto by Theophile Gautier, Jules Saint-Georges, Jean Coralli
Romantic ballet in 2 acts
Playing time with one break: 2 hours
Music – Adolphe Adam (1803-1856)
Libretto – Theophile Gautier, Jules Saint-Georges, Jean Coralli
Choreography – Jules Perrot, Jean Coralli, Marius Petipa
New director — Nadezhda Fedorova edited by Leonid Lavrovsky
Design – Natalia Bevzenko-Zinkina
Conductor – Igor Chernetsky
Giselle – An absolute highlight of the romantic ballet era.
On both sides of the stage is a thatched dwelling. In the background is a castle. Morning breaks. Giselle, a young farmer's wife, is in love with Albrecht. Albrecht is actually of nobility and betrothed to Bathilde, the duke's daughter. When he meets Giselle, he doesn't tell her who he really is. He claims to be a village boy named Loys. Albrecht stays in the cabin opposite Giselle's to be closer to her. He seduces Giselle and pretends nothing is wrong. Hilarion, a game warden, also likes Giselle. He is jealous of Albrecht. One day Hilarion finds his rival conversing with a handsomely dressed squire, who bows when Albrecht leaves.
This arouses suspicion in Hilarion. Albrecht and Giselle meet. She tells him about an evil dream in which he married a noblewoman in princely garb. Albrecht tries to dispel her fears, but Giselle finds confirmation in picking petals, accompanied by a "he loves me, he doesn't love me". Albrecht repeats the test and assures himself of the correct answer. After this, the couple performs a pas de deux expressing their joy and love. Hilarion sees the two and becomes jealous. The men are about to fight. Then a group of village girls come by. They are on their way to pick grapes. Giselle convinces them to dance. Giselle's mother is worried about her daughter's passion for dancing. She warns that she will dance herself to death again.
Giselle elected Queen of the Wine Season. The sound of a horn in the distance heralds the arrival of a hunting party. Albrecht, afraid of being recognized, encourages the village girls to resume work. He follows them to the vineyards. Meanwhile, Hilarion sneaks into Albrecht's cabin looking for evidence of Albrecht's noble birth. The hunting party appears accompanied by Princess Bathilde, Albrecht's betrothed. The princess and her retinue seek refreshment, which Giselle offers. Giselle admires Bathilde's lavish adornment. Taken by Giselle's grace and simplicity, Bathilde presents her with a necklace. She offers to take Giselle into her retinue. Giselle replies that she only wishes to dance and be loved by Albrecht. The princess and her father, the duke, retreat to Giselle's village.
Albrecht and the grape pickers return. Under general festivity, Giselle is elected Queen of the Wine Season. Then enter Hilarion. He found Albrecht's jeweled sword and luxurious cloak. In a jealous but triumphant frenzy, he thus reveals Albrecht's noble lineage. Hilarion blows a horn so that the hunting party would return. Bathilde and her father come out and find Albrecht in peasant clothes. Giselle now recognizes Bathilde as the lady from her dream. The discovery makes her lose her senses. She grabs the sword and thrusts it into her side.
A damp and foggy forest. On one side, under a cypress, is a tomb with a marble cross. A few flashes of light reveal the name on the grave: Giselle.
Hilarion appears at the head of a group of hunters. They seek shelter from the oncoming storm. Hilarion tells the legend of the Wilis, spirits of deceived women who make every man they meet in the forest dance at night until he falls dead. The group gets scared and when a church bell strikes they all flee in panic. A young girl slowly emerges from the reeds along a dark pool. It is Myrtha, queen of the Wilis. With a graceful and melancholic dance she summons the other Wilis from their graves. Myrtha holds her scepter dramatically over the grave and slowly Giselle emerges as well. A star is placed on her head and wings appear on her shoulders. Overjoyed at the release from her grave, she dances in ecstasy.
Plagued with regret, Hilarion comes to Giselle's grave. The Wilis surround him and release their spell. Hilarion dances until he falls into the pool from exhaustion and drowns. Then Albrecht appears to place flowers on Giselle's grave. Giselle pleads for his life, but the Queen refuses to listen. She orders Giselle to dance for Albrecht so that he too becomes possessed by a fatal madness. Giselle makes herself known by offering Albrecht the flowers. She persuades him to attach himself to the cross on her grave. Yet he becomes so enchanted by her dance that he lets go and dances along with his lover. Just in time, dawn sets in, breaking the spell of the Wilis. Albert is saved. The Wilis disappear. Despite Albrecht's attempts to hold her, Giselle is also drawn to her grave. Slowly she returns to earth and only the memory of her love remains.
The music for Giselle was composed by Adolphe Adam, a popular writer of music for ballet and opera in the early 19th century. The music was original and written in the smooth, song-like style that cantilena is called. The score does not reach the quality of great works of romantic classical music, but it is better than that of other ballet compositions of the period. Adam borrowed eight bars from a piece by a Mrs. Puget and three bars from the hunter's chorus in Carl Maria von Weber's opera Euryanthe.
The ballet is typified by various leitmotifs. These are musical tropes in which a recognizable theme keeps recurring when a certain figure, event or emotion appears. There is a leitmotif for Giselle, Albrecht and Hilarion. Another leitmotif accompanies the love test from the first act. This theme returns in the last scene of that act, when the betrayed Giselle performs her frenzied dance, and in the second act when Giselle offers flowers to Albrecht. The Wilis also have their own leitmotif. It can be heard in the overture, in the first act when Berthe warns her daughter and as an announcement of Giselle's fate during her frenzied dance. The theme returns when the Wilis first emerge. The hunting horn motif indicates surprise and can be heard when Albrecht's deceit is exposed.
Over time, several songs were added to the original score. Even before the premiere, music by Friedrich Burgmüller was added to the ballet to create a new pas de deux to guide. The adapted choreography by Marius Petipa, built up in several versions in the late 19th century, added music by Cesare Pugni and Riccardo Drigo.
Giselle's simplicity shows in her choice of picking petals to test Albrecht's love, rather than an oath. The indignation at Hilarion's behavior and her amazement at Bathilde's dress also emphasize her origins. In the second act, her naivety remains visible in the plea to Myrtha. The emotional climax for Giselle comes halfway through the ballet, at the frenzied dance and death scene. Her suicide is crucial to the development and interpretation of the role. It is the only act by which she actively determines her own destiny. It also causes her to be buried on unconsecrated ground, where Myrtha has power over her. In the second act, Giselle plays an active role in rescuing Albrecht. When she has to dance, this gives a second climax in the tension between her love for Albrecht and the consequences of the first act.
The role of Albrecht bears traces of the serious lover from the commedia dell'arte. Like many male dancers in the role of a nobleman, he behaves with dignity and respects etiquette. He clearly expresses his love for Giselle with conventional gestures and a restrained passion.