GISELLE/PARIS OPERA BALLET
July 15, 2012
Mortality infiltrates a sun-speckled village aglow with youthful anticipation in the Paris Opera Ballet’s visually striking production of the romantic ballet “Giselle.”
All a flutter over the attentions of a handsome beau, Giselle (Aurelie Dupont) a village maiden, pours her heart into her new love, but happy minutes turn into dark hours of loss and remorse. Bright sunny days of blissful youth slip into the dark mists of a bewitched forest.
Seated on a wooden bench, Giselle pulls the petals delicately off a daisy miming the rhyme " he loves me he loves me not” ending on "not" until the exquisitely elegant Albrecht (Mathieu Ganio) swiftly "discovers" a lost petal on the ground that proves, yes, he loves her! Joy overwhelms them both and they dance alongside the villagers despite the mother's dire warnings of Giselle's weak constitution.
An exciting classicist, Ganio‘s bracing technique flows through the maze of elevated leg beats, one-legged multiple turns starting and ending in a “tight” fifth position and lengthy balances. Without overacting or grandstanding, Ganio’s character interpretation invisibly wraps around the technique, making him a completely believable, handsome Prince.
In an earthier, more mature portrayal Dupont’s expressions are those of an old soul inside a young, excitable maiden. Dupont and Ganio are physically well matched, but emotionally amiss.
In the Act I Village scene, the folk dances are geometrically appealing forming starfish carousels, airy clusters and arms crocheted into arched bridges. Lucid and musical mime sequences, plus appealing costumes by Claudie Gastine, add to the overall, pleasing theatrical effect. In the Peasant Pas de Deux, Fabien Revillion partners Charline Giezendanner who steals hearts with her coquettish manner and brisk, lively technique.
When Giselle learns that Albrecht is a really a prince engaged to a beautiful princess, his deceptions rip-apart her weak constitution and she whirls herself into a death only to be resurrected as a ghostly Wili.
After Ganio realizes the repercussions of his actions, he visits Giselle’s grave and is accosted by the pack of jilted women—Wilis—who haunt the environs. Here the Paris Opera Ballet reveals its true glory in the pictorial beauty of the corps. Unison movements are enhanced by the delicacy of raised arms, elongated necks, sloped shoulders, and airy steps. The group patterns are particularly pleasing in their symmetry and design, like the double row of four dancers holding center, while three rows of three dancers each fan out to the side.
This cast’s Myrta, the insistent queen of the Wilis, is Emilie Cozette who is supported by a fine Aurelia Bellet and Laura Hecquet. There is one visual surprise in Act II: the curtain rises on four cloaked men gambling in the misty woods, and looking a lot like Shakespeare’s “rude mechanicals”—an itinerant acting troupe in "Midsummer Night’s Dream."
Appearing out of the mist, Giselle is now a filmy vision in flowing, white tutu. Her approach, elegant but pragmatic, lacks the etherealness associated with the puffy jumps, whirling turns on one leg, molasses thick unfolding of legs and thin, beaded runs on point.
Intent on helping Albrecht dance until dawn, and thereby save his life, Ganio soars in his leaps, beats that press legs apart before landing, easy turns and smooth collapses to the floor.
Overall, the company’s heritage shines in this strong production of Giselle.
EYE ON THE ARTS, NY -- Celia Ipiotis