This is a beautifully danced, exquisitely crafted revival devised by Peter Wright.
The version has now been around for about 25 years and has had over 550 performances yet it is still riveting and seems as fresh as if it was its first season.
Act 1 is mostly in russet colours, Act 2 by contrast an eerie woodland glade with Giselle’s rough cross.
The orchestra under the dynamic inspired baton of Barry Wordsworth was in superb form.
The corps de ballet were excellent in both acts as individualized peasants in Act 1 and the female corps of the Willis in Act 2 were menacing and powerful, breathing and pulsating as one. The ‘peasant pas de deux’ is, with this version, presented as a bubbling, charming pas de six led by Yuhui Choe and Alexander Campbell.
Nunez was magnificent as Giselle. In Act 1, especially at first, we see Giselle as vibrant and sunny, full of love and life, blushing and giggly with nerves when she interacts with Albrecht- enchanting, hardly believing her luck when she is crowned Queen of the Vintage. Their pas de deux was splendid.
Once she realizes she has been betrayed she is shattered, her mind fragmented, seeing only otherworldly things. Her mad scene was extremely powerful.
In Act 2 she was a whisper of a haunted, fragile, loving ghost, feather light. Technically she was in tremendous form in both acts and there was an emphasis on the ‘Romantic ‘ line of the body especially the arms as seen in the original 1841 lithographs .
As Albrecht, Muntagirov was delightful with incredible technique , beautifully stretched feet, soaring jetes ,cabrioles and entrechats. He moves instinctively with aristocratic grace and elegance blended with youthful enthusiasm. He is also a marvellous partner.
Muntagirov plays Albrecht as a rather caddish, spoiled playboy (observe the reaction of his squire Wilfred who helps Albrecht disguise himself before he flirts with Giselle ) but is shocked at the end of Act 1 with Giselle’s death and is heartbroken in Act 2.
Bennet Garside is splendid as Hilarion who also in love with Giselle. He is rather foxlike in appearance and wears a jacket of skins and furs revealing his trade.
Christina Arestis as Bathilde, suffering from an attack of ennui, is stunning in an incredible beaded dress as if she had stepped out of a Renaissance painting. (Interestingly, in this version Giselle touches the drape of her sleeve not the hem of her skirt).
Berthe’s mime sequence as played by Elizabeth McGorian, gives one shivers. Do we get a sense of untold subtext and hidden backstory here?!
Tall, proud and imperious Itziar Mendizabal was terrific, icy, implacable and technically excellent as Myrtha, Queen of the Willis. I am afraid, however, she looked like a transfer from Les Ballets Trockadero de Monte Carlo.
This was a very thoughtful and delightful revival of this classic work with the highlight the magnificent dancing .
Running time allow 2 hours 45 including one interval. The film also features a short ‘behind the scenes ‘ screening and interviews before and during the interval.
The Royal Ballet’s production of Giselle is playing selected arthouse cinemas between the 6th and 11th May.