Colorado Ballet

Giselle

Giselle

Choreographer: Choreography by Jean Coralli and Jules Perrot
As revised by Marius Petipa
Staged by Gil Boggs, Sandra Brown and Lorita Travaglia - 2006, 2013
Act I staged by Marat Daukayev, Act II staged by Inge Saarsalu - 2000
Composer: Adolphe Adam
Years performed: 2013
2006
2000
1985
1981
1979
1975
1974
Artists of Colorado Ballet - by Mike Watson
Artists of Colorado Ballet - by Mike Watson

Total run time: 2 hours and 10 minutes (includes one - 20 minute intermission)

Synopsis

Act I

Giselle is set in the vineyard country bordering the Rhine River. Hilarion, the village huntsman and a gamekeeper to the court, returns from his early morning chores and pauses before a neighboring cottage, the home of Giselle, with whom he is in love. Villagers pass by on their way to the vineyards, where they will harvest the last of the grapes before the Wine Festival.

Count Albrecht arrives with his squire dressed as a peasant. This peasant, known to the villagers as Loys, excuses himself from joining the grape pickers so that he can be alone with Giselle. He swears his eternal love for her and with daisy petals she wonders whether “he loves me, he loves me not.” When it appears the answer is “not,” she throws the flower away. But Loys recovers it and secretly removes one petal, indicating to Giselle that “he loves me” is the final answer. Hilarion interrupts, protesting that he, and not Loys, truly loves Giselle. A quarrel ensues and Hilarion’s suspicions are raised as Loys reaches for a sword.

The villagers return and Giselle invites them to join in a dance to celebrate the harvest. Her mother, Berthe, interrupts to remind Giselle that she should not endanger her weak heart with dancing. Berthe is stuck with a momentary hallucination of her daughter in death. She sees her as a Wili, a restless spirit who has died because her love was unrequited.

A hunting horn is heard in the distance which Loys recognizes as that of the Duke of Courland. As he hastily departs, Hilarion breaks into his cottage. The Duke’s hunting party arrives and his beautiful daughter, Bathilde, rewards Giselle with a necklace when she learns they are both engaged to be married. After the hunting party moves on, Hilarion emerges from Loys’ cottage with a hunting horn and sword, further evidence that the supposed peasant is, in fact, a nobleman. The villagers return and proclaim Giselle the Queen of the Wine Festival. Hilarion interrupts to denounce Loys as an imposter. When Loys denies the charges and threatens the gamekeeper with the sword, Hilarion blows the hunting horn, a signal for the Prince to return. Loys is exposed when Bathilde reveals that he is her fiancé, Count Albrecht. Giselle’s fragile heart cannot withstand the revelation of Loys’ duplicity. In the ensuing moments, her mind becomes unhinged and she dies of a broken heart, her great love unrequited.

Act II

The setting is a clearing in the forest near Giselle’s grave at midnight. Myrtha, Queen of the Wilis, appears and the Wilis are summoned to attend the ceremonies which will initiate Giselle into their sisterhood. The Wilis are vengeful beings who in life suffered unrequited love and are destined to roam the earth from midnight to dawn, trapping any male who enters their domain and forcing him to dance to death. Hilarion, in search of Giselle, meets his death at their hands. Albrecht arrives to leave flowers on Giselle’s grave. The Wilis appear from the shadows, trapping Albrecht, but Giselle resolves to protect him. She dances with him until dawn arrives, the time at which the Wilis lose their power. Giselle vanishes from his arms, back into her grave. Albrecht is spared death.

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