California Ballet Company Premier – March, 2008, San Diego Civic Theatre
Giselle was restaged by Marius Zirra and Charles Bennett, and set to the music of Adolphe Adam. This moving love story, filled with romance, madness, magic, death and triumph, showcases the dancers’ dramatic acting skills as well as their dancing abilities.
Often referred to as the Hamlet of the dance world due to the great demands made of the ballerina’s acting skills, Giselle is the quintessential ballet of the Romantic era. The conflict between reality and the supernatural as a basis for storytelling was popular with the creative artists of the period. A true classic, the ballet Giselle has survived virtually unchanged since its premiere in 1841.
The story is about a young peasant girl named Giselle, who falls in love with a handsome stranger to her village, Albrecht, who promises to marry her. She is overjoyed until she discovers that Albrecht is actually a nobleman betrothed to a princess. The shock is too much for her delicate health, and she is driven insane and dies. The second act of the ballet changes to an otherworldly realm where Wilis, the spirits of young girls who have died before their wedding day, take vengeance on those who have wronged them. Though Giselle is now a Wili, her love for Albrecht is so great that she protects and sustains him by dancing with him until dawn when the power of the Wilis is withdrawn. Giselle then returns to her grave and Albrecht is left alone with his grief.