Birmingham Royal Ballet’s Giselle, though, is faithful to Marius Petipa’s 19th century revival of a work first performed in Paris. The production bears the signatures of the company’s former veteran director, David Bintley, the ballerina Galina Samsova and the designer Hayden Griffen. They do, of course, keep Adolphe Adam’s haunting score.
The aim of BRB’s production is to create in 21st century slightly jaded audiences more than just an appreciation of good dancing. Rather, Bintley wanted people to see the ballet anew and really feel the kind of disquiet created by the vengeful spirits of Act II that 19th century audiences would have felt.
The story is well-known, so here’s just a very brief recap: Act I is set in a village. Giselle is an innocent peasant girl with a weak heart, who’s in love with Albrecht – a handsome aristocrat who courts her disguised as a peasant, for a little harmless (he hopes) fun.
When his deception is uncovered, Giselle goes mad – the very famous mad scene, which, in the hands of a good dance actress, can truly move an audience to tears – and dies.
Act II is set in a forest haunted by vengeful Wilis, the spirits of betrayed women, whose mission is to find and kill any man who ventures into their domain. A remorseful Albrecht, who ventures in to lay flowers on Giselle’s grave, is only saved from certain death by the intervention of a forgiving Giselle.
BRB’s production sets Act I in a lovingly reproduced medieval village, where the noblemen’s haunting party dressed in lavish period outfits includes two live dogs and a horse.
In Act II, perhaps the most atmospheric white act in the classic/Romantic ballet canon, the forest is seriously spooky, an effect intensified by the addition of a church in ruins. The Wilis make their first appearance fleeting through the trees on flying wires.
Like all white acts, this requires precision ensemble dancing, something in which BRB’s corps de ballet should be able to excel. The company has a solid roster of soloists, so the main roles, too, should be well served.
|What||Birmingham Royal Ballet, Giselle, Sadler's Wells|
|Where||Sadler's Wells, Rosebery Avenue, London, EC1R 4TN | MAP|
|Nearest tube||Angel (underground)|
01 Nov 19 – 02 Nov 19, 19:30 Sat mat 14:30 Dur.: 2 hours 15 mins inc one interval
|Price||£15-£65 (+booking fee|
|Website||Click here to book|