This is a ravishing, exquisite production by the world famous Paris Opera Ballet and features some of the most jaw-droppingly, impressive dancing I have seen in ages.
Direct from the company that premiered it in 1832 , here we have a revival of the Lacotte production from 2004. In this version we have Aurelie Dupont as the Sylph and Mathieu Ganio as James in this magnificent production that looks straight out of lithographs of the originals. You can see the Bournonville influence ( leading to the other , alternative version of this work ) and how it inspired the slightly later ‘Giselle’ ,( especially in the pas de deux for James and the Sylph ) both of which are now regarded as landmarks of Romantic ballet .Are there also hints of ’La Bayadere’ in Act2 with the scarf ?
The finely detailed sets are the standard huge room with fireplace in Act1 .The costumes for this act are predominantly in red and blue. In Act 2 there is a marvellous leafy forest.
The exquisite corps de ballet of the women as sylphs in Act2 are magnificent .Precisely drilled they breathe and function as one to hypnotic effect. ( And keep a look out for the special flying effects ). In Act1 they are of this world as guests celebrating James and Effie’s wedding with wonderful exuberant dancing . There are controlled lines and lots of fast fleet fiddly footwork – a hint of the Bournonville version?
As the Sylph, Aurelie Dupont is astonishing . She appears as if straight out of a Taglioni lithograph. What was interesting to observe was the attention to detail in her costume – the pearl necklace and bracelets , the blue ribbon at her waist , the floral coronet in her hair. And peacock feathers in her wings ! Technically she was amazing , appearing lighter than a feather. Yet she had steely pointes , amazing control in her adage and a soft , lyrical rounded line in her portes des bras ( again echoing the lithographs) .It was also interesting to note that in this version she only brings James one offering of items from her world – a birds nest- not three or so as in some versions .She appears to be of alabaster and not of this world, mysterious and ethereal. Playful and flirtatious she unwittingly leads James on to the tragic denouement.
Dreamily handsome James , a young man caught between illusion and reality ( the Sylph and his real , worldly fiance Effie ) was more than superbly danced by Mathieu Ganio . He has textbook pure technique and his elevation and batterie are astonishing. His short ,explosive solos are thrilling .
Madge the witch (here simply called The Sorceress) was chillingly played by Jean-Marie Didière .It is interesting to note that in this version she has six ‘weird sisters’ who help her with the incantations and preparations of the poisoned scarf ( long filmy veil) to kill the Sylph and revenge herself on James. Didiere as Madge is tall , with a craggy , very expressive face and long , bony, dirty fingers . He has a commanding presence and is not someone you would want to cross!
Effie, James’ fiancee ,was delightfully danced by Mélanie Hurel .And Gurn,James ‘ friend who is also in love with Effie is tremendously danced by Emmanuel Hoff . They have show stopping pas de deux in Act1 .
So if you are into Romantic era ‘Ballet Blancs’ and want to see some extraordinary dancing don’t miss this.
The Paris Opera Ballet in LA SYLPHIDE screened at selected cinemas with screenings taking place on July 27, 28 and 31.