Sydney Opera House: Giselle

2 – 22 April 2015: Maina Gielgud takes this romantic classic with superb technique and feeling with such fresh light. Originally created by Jean Coralli and Jules Perrot in 1841, Giselle is the story of a village girl whom experiences first love, betrayal, jealousy, hurt and forgiveness. I’m sure we’ve been through them once in our lives.

Right from the start, Giselle, a young woman in the forest by the cottage, floats on air and spins in ecstasy. In Act 1, she falls in love with a man who is not all it seems. Albrecht disguise himself as a peasant where he met Giselle. But a dark secret hinders as he is bethroed to a noblewoman and it only can turn into tears.

Giselle loves to dance and the sheer joy seeing the movement of Rachel Rawlins take over, tirelessly and expression in the characters technique. Rachel reminds us that Giselle is a ghost story.

Suspicious Hilarion, the Gamekeeper who is protective of Giselle, and his girlfriend discover Albrecht’s true identity and try to warn Giselle against him. The Hunting Party arrive for lunch with Lady Bathilde and her brother the Duke and his wife. Giselle and Bathilde exchange confidences not realising that they are both engaged to the same man.

Before Act 2, Giselle became deranged by the shock of being betrayed and as a result of her weak heart she dies at Prince Albrecht’s feet. Fragile in life, seems death shown a different strength in flight. Joined with the Wilis – jilted young brides who’d died before their big moment, a narrative dream sequence. I’ve never seen a more eloquently act progress.

In Act 2, Giselle is initiated into the Wilis and heartbroken Albrecht prays to see his beloved Giselle in the moonlight forest. She comes to him and although Myrtha, the Queen , condemns him to death Giselle saves his life by sustaining him through the night and dancing with him until dawn. Woodnymphs taunt and condemn the hunt gentlemen and male servants and Hilarion meets his death by being driven into the lake by the revengeful Wilis.

Giselle, profoundly moving.

Giselle: Rachel Rawlins
Albrecht: Matthew Lawrence
Hilarion: Tristan Message
Myrtha: Lynette Wills

Choreography: Marius Petipa after Jean Corelli
Production: Maina Gielgud
Music: Adolphe Adam
Set and costume design: Peter Farmer
Original lighting design: William Akers

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