|Giselle and Albrecht (Ms Zhu Yan and Mr Ma Xiaodong) in the lovers’ pas de deux in the first Act. (Photo provided by Han Jun 韩军)|
National Ballet of China
Tian Qiao Theater
April 3 – April 6; 19.30
Giselle is a hugely popular ballet that was first performed in Paris in 1841. It was the brainchild of the ballet critic Theophile Gautier, who was assisted in the creation of the libretto by Jules-Henri Verney de Saint-Georges; the music was composed by Adolphe Adam.
Along with Swan Lake and Le Corsaire, Giselle was one of the first three ballets performed by the National Ballet of China after its founding in 1959. Again in 2007, the second Act of Giselle formed part of a program performed by the NBC as part of a cultural exchange between the Paris Opera Ballet and the National Ballet of China. This is a new production of the whole ballet.
The principal roles of Giselle and Albrecht are danced by the experienced prima ballerina Ms Zhu Yan and the young Mr Ma Xiaodong, the pair who also danced the leads in Don Quixote last November.
Giselle tells the story of a young peasant girl with a weak heart, whose mother is always concerned for her health. In the first Act she is unsuccessfully wooed by Hilarion, a gamekeeper. The Duke of Albrecht, wandering the woods with his squire and disguised as a humble commoner, comes upon Giselle and the two fall in love. But Albrecht is already engaged to the princess Bathilde. Hilarion competes with Albrecht for Giselle’s love, and fails, but he later learns of Albrecht’s true identity. A hunting party of nobles arrive on the scene, including Bathilde, who is very taken with Giselle. Driven by jealousy, Hilarion reveals Albrecht’s true identity. In the face of Albrecht’s deceit, Giselle goes mad and dies.