Carlos Acosta and Natalia Osipova shine in the Royal Ballet's revival of GISELLE, part of this year's Palace Opera and Ballet season
Carlos Acosta and Natalia Osipova shine in the Royal Ballet’s revival of GISELLE,

Quick! Run! Book now if you haven’t already to catch this extraordinary screening of Natalia Osipova and Carlos Acosta in the Royal Ballet’s GISELLE which has just finished a sold out season at the Royal Opera House in London. Regarded as the epitome of Romantic ballet, GISELLE, created by Jean Coralli and Jules Perrot in 1841, is the story of a village girl who loves but is betrayed by Count Albrecht, a nobleman in disguise .

This is the very traditional Peter Wright version (he is interviewed and in the audience to watch it and brought on stage for curtain calls at the end) that has been around for about thirty years .Yet it feels amazingly vibrant and fresh. It is a clear and emotionally gripping performance .The sets and costumes in Act 1 are in autumnal russet colours, in Act 2 we see an eerie, misty, moonlit forest glade with Giselle’s grave marked by a rough cross.

Under the dynamic baton of conductor Boris Gruzin, we see the orchestra who are terrific and play Adam’s lilting score eloquently.

Former Bolshoi dancer Natalia Osipova who has just joined the Royal Ballet this season as Giselle is superb, playing this ‘Hamlet of the Ballet’, a very challenging test for ballerinas since its first performance. In Act1 Osipova convinces as the naive, delicate young peasant maiden in love with Albrecht. She is delicate and shy and her frail heart is emphasised. Yet she is bright and joyous at first and reassures anxious Berthe, her mother. In Act 2 she is like a moonbeam or gossamer.

The opening flirting pas de deux for Giselle and Albrecht is glorious and her ‘mad scene’ is shattering. In both acts we admire her astonishing elevation and ballon. Her appearance and first whizzing solo in Act 2 is magnificent, – fast and yet also blurry like delicate mist. Simultaneously she has incredible control in her adagio and a beautiful ‘line’. She pleads for Albrecht’s life in Act2 with delicate despair.

As playboy charmer Count Albrecht, Carlos Acosta was great. He is at first just out to have fun and a good time but falls deeply in love with Giselle and is shattered by the disaster he unwittingly causes. His dancing was clean, crisp and precise, fluidly elegant and passionate. It is interesting to note that in this version it is Albrecht who crowns Giselle Queen of the Harvest. He observes Giselle’s mad scene with horror and is forced to accept the consequences of his previous actions. Their pas de deux together in both acts are marvellous. He is a fine devoted partner and responds to Osipova with elegance and vivid attack.

In this production, Berthe’s mimed story about the Wilis is told to a large gathering of corps de ballet villagers .Deirdre Chapman , a concerned and stern but very loving mother,  makes it very dramatic and chilling , a warning to all the young women not just Giselle. In this version the ‘Peasant pas de deux’ is more a ‘Peasant pas de Six’, delightfully performed to celebrate the harvest and featuring Valentino Zucchetti and Yuhui Choe. Bathilde Albrecht’s real fiancee (elegant, beautiful Christina Arestis) was definitely a city woman – her dress was stunning and you could see she did not enjoy a day out in the country.

Poor Hilarion in love with Giselle was well danced by Thomas Whitehead in a terrific, sympathetic performance of a man whose world is turned inside out when Albrecht arrives and meets Giselle. He opens Act2 mournfully at Giselle’s grave and gave us some fabulous jumps particularly in Act 2 when tormented by the Wilis.

Myrthe, Queen of the Wilis, was well performed by Hikaru Kobayashi; cold ,regal and implacable, driving Hilarion to his death and attempting to kill Albrecht too.

There was fine ensemble work by the corps de ballet in both acts and Wilis in Act2 were eerie and menacing.

The camera allows us to get up close and personal and see full facial expressions, sweat and more. Sometimes there is very effective use of aerial shots to show the patterns of the choreography. Former leading ballerina Darcey Bussell introduces the programme and interviews at interval.

A glorious production.

Running time 2 hours 40 (approx) including interval. The film includes interval and pre performance interviews and short documentaries and extensive rapturous curtain calls.

GISELLE by the Royal Ballet with Natalia Osipova and Carlos Acosta is part of the Palace Opera and Ballet season