TH 11.12.2014, 7.30 PM


Choreography by Patrice Bart
Music by Adolphe Adam


Premiere on December 6th, 2000 at the Staatsoper Unter den Linden

The longing to present ghostly floating elves on stage was the reason for choreographers of the 19thcentury to make ballerinas dance “en pointe”. In often very spooky settings, dancing elves and fairies were up for mischief.

In "Giselle", the dance addicted Vilis are key to the libretto. Vilis are elves, which as brides died before their wedding as their love got betrayed. Sensitive Giselle shares the same fate: She not only loves dancing but also Albrecht, who courts her although he has already been promised to someone else. When the truth gets revealed, Giselle loses her mind and dies. She joins the ranks of the Vilis and, just as her fellowers, is doomed to lure men into dancing at night until they die. Myrtha, the queen of the Vilis, watches over it all. Albrecht also ventures into the forest to visit Giselle’s tomb …

  • Dancing: Solisten und Corps de ballet des Staatsballetts Berlin
  • Choreography and Production: Patrice Bart nach Jean Coralli und Jules Perrot
  • Sets and Costumes: Peter Farmer
  • Musical Direction: N.N.
  • Staatskapelle Berlin

Act I

A village in the midst of celebrations.

Giselle, one of the pretty girls of the village, has fallen in love with a handsome youth who comes from elsewhere. She does not know who he is. He calls himself Loys.

However, Hilarion who admires Giselle and rendered perspicacious by jealousy, suspects that he is a nobleman.

Everyone dances. Giselle’s mother, fearing that her daughter’s fragile health will suffer from her passion for dancing, recounts the tale of the unhappy Wilis, who dying before their wedding day, are condemned to dance each night until the break of dawn.

Giselle, laughing at her mother’s fears, continues to dance and, in the presence of her handsome suitor, is crowned Queen of the festivities. The Prince of Courland, passing by with his retinue, stops before Giselle’s house, and requests a drink. His daughter, the princess Bathilde, is the fiancée of Albrecht, Duke of Silesia, who is none other than ... the young man who Hilarion arrives to denounce, having found his rival’s sword, bearing his crest.

Giselle, utterly shocked by this revelation, loses her reason and dies.

Act II

At night, a tombstone surmonted by a cross.

The gamekeepers are playing at dice. Hilarion arrives mourning for Giselle.

Then a church chimes the hour of midnight. The atmosphere takes on a sinister aspect. The gamekeepers, seized with fear, seek safety in flight.

White shadows suddenly pass, then return. Who are these immaterial beings? They are the Wilis, the souls of young women who have been betrayed by unfaithful lovers. They take revenge by luring young men at night, only to dispose of them in the darkness.

Myrtha, their queen, gathers them together to receive their new member: Giselle appears, shrouded in pale veils.

Albrecht, who has come to place flowers upon the tomb, sees the ghostly apparition of his beloved Giselle, an ephemeral phantom that he tries to seize, but who escapes his grasp. It flees, and he follows it, as if dreaming.

Imprudently arrives Hilarion, whom the Wilis drag into a murderous dance: he is their first victim of the night. Albrecht seems destined to the same fate. Giselle implores Myrtha and the other Wilis to spare him, but they remain inflexible. Condemned to dance until he dies of exhaustion, Albrecht is supported by Giselle’s love, and they dance desperately, momentarily united.

Eventually, the first light of dawn obliges the phantoms to flee. Giselle, in turn, disappears, leaving Albrecht to real life.

Learn more: There is a free introduction in German for the audience at the performance venue 45 minutes before each performance, except opening nights, guest performances, and special events. It is prepared and moderated by students of the Free University Berlin as part of the Ballet University program.

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