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An exemplary Giselle
Libretto: Jules-Henri Vernoy de Saint-Georges, Théophile Gautier and Jean Coralli
Choreography: Jean Coralli, Jules Perrot and Marius Petipa revised by Nikita Dolgushin
Production: Nikita Dolgushin
Set and Costume Design: Vyacheslav Okunev
Lighting Design: Mikhail Mekler
Premiere of the production: November 3, 2007
The stage life of Giselle hasn’t been an easy one. After its premiere of 1841 featuring Carlotta Grisi and Lucien Petipa, the ballet was performed in France till 1863, when it disappeared from the repertoire. The ballet has been staged in St.Petersburg since 1842. At the beginning of the 20th century during the ground-breaking Diaghilev’sRussian Seasons, the French saw their national ballet, faithfully nurtured in Russia.
The Mikhailovsky Theatre’s the 2008 production of Giselle by Nikita Dolgushin, a specialist in historical works, managed to amaze both the public and the critics. Dolgushin, a noble Albrecht in his time as a dancer, inspired the creation of the ballet and delicately united dance and mime. He revealed the essence of the romantic ballet, the story of Giselle is told in the language of ballet classicism. Together with Viacheslav Okunev, who designed the epitome of romantic settings, Dolgushin made a production that was described by a British critic ‘an exemplary Giselle’.
A young Count is in love with a peasant girl, Giselle. As he is disguised in peasant clothes Giselle takes him for a young man fr om a nearby village. A gamekeeper is also in love with Giselle. He tries to prove that Giselle’s lover is not the man he pretends to be. But Giselle will not listen.
The gamekeeper intrudes into the cottage wh ere the young Count changed his clothes and finds the Count’s sword. The sound of horns signifies that the hunters are coming. The Count’s betrothed and her father are among them. The noble lady is charmed by Giselle and gives the pretty peasant her necklace.
At the height of the peasants’ feast the gamekeeper appears. He accuses the Count of deceit and shows the Count’s sword as a proof. Giselle doesn’t believe it. The gamekeeper blows the horn and the Count’s betrothed greets the abashed Count. Giselle shocked by her lover’s deceit goes mad and dies.
Midnight. The gamekeeper comes to visit Giselle’s tomb. The Wilis are arising from their tombs and the young man runs to escape them. The Wilis force every man who comes to the cemetery at night to dance to his death.
The Queen of the Wilis summons the ghost of Giselle from her tomb: she’s one of the Wilis now. The Count comes to visit Giselle’s tomb. Seeing his sorrow and regret Giselle forgives him.
The Wilis are chasing the gamekeeper and having caught him push the young man into the lake. The Count is going to die too. In vain Giselle begs the Wilis to let him go: the Wilis are implacable. But the chime is heard: it’s daybreak. The Wilis are loosing their power as dawn breaks. The Count is forgiven and rescued. Giselle vanishes into the morning haze.
Mikhailovsky (ex. Mussorgsky) Theatre