The Australian Ballet is in glorious form with this revival of GISELLE. It is the much loved Maina Gielgud version, replacing the much anticipated The Happy Prince that has had to be postponed because of Graeme Murphy’s illness.
GISELLE originally premiered in 1841 and is considered one of the great Romantic ballets , telling the story of madness , deceit and betrayal , vengeful spirits and a love that conquers death.
In this beautifully designed version Peter Farmer’s set and costume designs are mostly in russet colours for Act 1 and then an eerie forest glade for Act 2.
The Orchestra under the inspired baton of Simon Thew was in splendid, luxurious form too playing Adam’s haunting score magnificently.
The large corps de ballet was in excellent form , the crisscrossing, interlinking patterns of the various village dances in Act 1 crisply, precisely performed .The peasant pas de deux ( Aya Watanabe and François-Eloi Lavignac) was a great show stopping interlude. In Act 2 the Willis were menacing and dangerous.
As Giselle, Jade Wood was tremendous. In Act 1 she caught the shy, sweet, innocent village maiden in love with Albrecht (she doesn’t realise he is a Duke in disguise as a commoner) . She was buoyant and with her soft ballon almost flew at times driven by her excited love for Albrecht. Portraying Giselle, in Act 1 Wood was full of vibrant happiness all blushing and giggly, seemingly fit and healthy – or is she? ( We see her having to stop because of breathlessness). The famous mad scene was eerie and heartbreaking. In Act 2 as Giselle’s ghost, transformed into a Willi , she was like a fragile mist yet steely in her love beyond the grave for Albrecht.
As two timing Albrecht Brett Chynoweth was very impressive, with magnificent technique and a soft, creamy elegant ‘line’. He is at first a carefree playboy but by the end of Act 1 has changed and is struck by guilt and remorse. He has spectacular solos in Act 2 for instance with long, stretched, bouncy cabrioles and a punishing series of entrechats.The pas de deux for Giselle and Albrecht especially in Act 2 with their high ‘flying’ lifts were breathtaking.
As Myrtha, Queen of the Willis, Nicola Curry was coldly commanding, regal and imperious with a huge soaring jump.
Olga Tamara as Berthe Giselle’s mother was terrific. Her chilling mime scene telling the story of the ghostly Willis gave one goosebumps .
Mason Lovegrove as Hilarion, the forester who loves Giselle, was rough yet charming and chivalrous, ( notice how he brings gifts for Berthe and fetches water for her) devastated at Giselle’s death.
A very wonderful, quite traditional revival of this much loved Romantic ballet, telling the story clearly and with enormous emotional impact.
Running time 2 hours 15 minutes.
The Australian Ballet in Giselle runs at the Joan Sutherland Theatre, Sydney Opera House until 18th May, 2019