An Elegant and Classic Giselle at Sadler’s Wells Theatre.
Birmingham Royal Ballet’s beautiful and moving revival of David Bintley’s and Galina Samsova’s 1999 production of Giselle has just landed at Sadler’s Wells for a couple of nights after performances at Birmingham Hippodrome and then Plymouth. Giselle is one of the staples of the classical ballet canon with music by Adolphe Adam and choreography by Marius Petipa. It tells the story of the young eponymous heroine, a simple, village girl played with a naïve fragility by Momoko Hirata who falls for César Morales’ handsome Count Albrecht who is masquerading as a villager called Loys. Giselle’s mother Berthe wants her to marry a forester called Hilarion, in a performance of unbridled male pain by Kit Holder, who is besotted with her daughter and uncovers Count Albrecht’s deception leading to tragic consequences. There have been three productions of Giselle doing the rounds in the last few months. English National Ballet’s gothic reworking by Akram Khan has gained international recognition and South African choreographer Dada Miselo’s more overtly political version places the story in South Africa; however, Bintley and Samsova have gone for an unashamedly classic production which will appeal to audiences wanting something more traditional. From the first scene of Act 1 and her opening jeté, this is Momoko Hirata’s show. Her petite frame, lightness of movement, sense of line, acting ability and affecting sense of vulnerability coalesce in a performance that moves the heart. You sense a real emotional connection with César Morales’ Count Albrecht especially in their exquisite Pas de Deux in the second act, and he in turn transitions from an aristocratic arrogance expressed through his posture and carriage to something much more loving and emotionally engaged as the drama unfolds. The Royal Ballet Sinfonia under the baton of Koen Kessels give very solid support to the dancers coming into their own in the more musically interesting and emotionally connected second act; and it is here too that the Corps de Ballet really shine as the Wilis, the spirits of young girls who have been jilted by their lovers before getting married. Hayden Griffin’s design for the unconsecrated woodland glade where Giselle is being laid to rest has a Gothic ethereality about it and is the perfect setting for the Corps to show some well-coordinated footwork as they wreak their vengeance firstly on Hilarion and then subsequently on Albrecht. Special mention must go to Samara Downs as who gives an imperious performance as Myrtha, Queen of the Wilis. If you are a newcomer to the world of classical ballet or like your dance to be presented traditionally then this is a production that you will enjoy. Whilst it may not have the edginess of some of the Akram Khan or Dada Miselo versions there is an unforced emotional integrity that shines through the performance that is really transporting.
The Birmingham Royal Ballet have performances of The Nutcracker upcoming at The Royal Albert Hall over the Christmas period that we have loved in past years and is a fabulous seasonal treat!
Sadler’s Wells, London
Rosebery Avenue, London, EC1R 4TN; 020 7863 8000
Friday 1 – Saturday 2 November
Sir Peter Wright’s The Nutcracker
Hurst St, Southside, Birmingham, B5 4TB; 0844 338 5000
Friday 22 November – Saturday 14 December On sale now
Royal Albert Hall
Kensington Gore, London, SW7 2AP; 020 7589 8212
Saturday 28 – Tuesday 31 December