ABT’s “Giselle” by Adolphe Adam: a beautiful depiction of love, loss, and forgiveness…

David H Koch building–Lincoln Center/Wednesday October 20th, 2021. “Giselle” is featured from Oct 20-31st.

Welcome back friends!

This week, as we are still enjoying a wonderfully balmy Autumn season, here in NYC, and are also, fast approaching Halloween (on October 31st, for my non-American readers), welcome to a fixture of classical ballet, one of the oldest continually-performed, “fantastical” ballet about love, betrayal, and forgiveness.

Wow and Yay!

Welcome to “Giselle”, an epic, iconic, Romantic classical ballet in two acts: set first, during the automnal wine harvesting season, in Germany, where, a young girl in love, will ultimately be wronged; and then, taking us to a supernatural world of powerful and vengeful spirits called “wilis”, where love’s capacity for forgiveness, will overcome pain, and instill a sense of peace for all.

Wow! and Yay Yay Yay!

“Giselle ou les wilis” is the original French title, yet, everyone, for simplicity reasons, and probably to make the ballet even more memorable, just calls this ballet “Giselle”.


So welcome again to “Giselle”: a simple, yet cautionary, earthly yet supernatural, gorgeous, yet tragic, 19th century (1841) ballet, by Adolphe Adam; depicting a beautiful, doomed, yet poetic love story, overflowing with final forgiveness, based on a wonderful collaboration of great Romantic artists.

Wow! and yay!

French poet and novelist Théophile Gautier (illustrious for many works, such as the epic, compelling, cloak and dagger novel “Le Capitaine Fracasse”), imagined a classic Romantic tale: a love betrayal, which Gautier combined to a reshaping of German poet Heinrich Heine’s retelling of a slavic legend, concerning ghostly spirits, of double crossed engaged girls, who have died before their wedding day; and which Gautier, also then, merged to a poem from Victor Hugo, called “Fantômes”, found in “Les Orientales”.

Wow! Wow! Wow!

Choreography wise, “Giselle” emerged also, from another formidable collaboration of artists: first, imagined by Jean Coralli and Jules Perrot, two famous dancers at the time, the choreography was further enriched later, in 1884, especially the fantastical, ethereal, supernatural second act, by illustrious Marius Petipa (First Ballet Master of the St Petersburg Imperial theater for years, who created over 50 ballets such as the iconic and highly praised “La Bayardère” in 1877, “the Sleeping beauty” in 1890, and “the Nutcracker” in 1892).

Wow! Wow! Wow!

And believe it or not, but Marius Petipa’s older brother, Lucien, danced the role of “Albrecht”, in the original 1841 production, and I can imagine, that he was probably also tremendous, under his brother’s acclaimed choreographic guidance, and certainly an inspiration to the successive Albrecht” dancers.

Wow! and Yay!

The libretto is from Jules-Henri Vernoy de Saint-Georges (illustrious librettist at the time, in particular for Donizetti’s highly acclaimed opera, the previous year, in 1840, “La fille du Régiment”: one of the most deep, yet filled with lightheartedness, and entertaining operas ever, in my opinion).

Wow and yay!

And composer Adolphe Adam (illustrious for his gorgeous French Christmas Carol “Minuit, Chrétiens” or in english, “O holy night”) was also recruited, to compose the music for this new ballet. And the music, as well, is just gorgeous, expressive, and at times, just, incredibly heart wrenching.

Wow! and yay!

And “Giselle” as a ballet, is so dramatically and emotionally powerful, evolving from a simple lighthearted “boy meets girl” love story, to a forgiveness tale, to end darkness; that still today, it remains a favorite among ballet companies, ballet dancers, and ballet audiences, around the world.

How about that?

Wow and Yay!

Let’s watch an excerpt of the visually compelling second act, here by the Joffrey ballet, to get a sense of the sheer supernatural quality of “Giselle”.


Is it not just gorgeous?


So in a nutshell, what is the story really about?

It is about Giselle, a young, naive, beautiful peasant girl, who, during the wine harvesting season, will fall for the charms of a stranger, an aristocrat disguised as a peasant, Count “Albrecht” of Silesia, a.k.a. “Loys” the peasant, who flirts with her, and tells her he loves her.

Albrecht, as he meets young Giselle, whose beauty and charm fascinate him, Albrecht, though engaged to be married soon, wants to enjoy one last adventure, before his upcoming wedding. Of course, Giselle falls fast, and deeply in love with Albrecht, and when Giselle finds out that Albrecht is, in fact, already, an engaged man, she (literally) dies of shock. Oh boy! Gasp!

The story then, turns supernatural. Giselle after her death, returns as a spirit, summoned by Myrta, the queen of spirits called “wilis”, all dressed in their white wedding gowns. Giselle is to be initiated by Myrta, into the vengeful sisterhood of “wilis” maiden spirits, who have been double crossed by flakey men, who they were engaged to, and never married, leading the maidens to die of sadness, before their wedding; and who learn to dance to death, any men trapped on their territory. Oh boy! Gasp!

Yet, when Albrecht comes to visit Giselle’s grave, Giselle will immediately choose to forgive Albrecht, and will even save Albrecht from this dire punishment, as he is attacked by “wilis” maiden spirits: instead Giselle chooses to dance alongside Albrecht, protectively, to shield him from the wilis’ magic. And Giselle’s merciful, forgiving, and protective act towards Albrecht, not only saves Albrecht from certain death, it also saves Giselle as well, from becoming a spiteful, vengeful “wili” herself; and instead, Giselle is ultimately left in her grave, having regained her humanity, and feeling serene, and at peace.


So what else makes “Giselle” so important ?

“Giselle” features a young “heroine”, which was a real novelty in the world of ballet, in the 19th century.


The intricate choreography seemed perfectly suited to the best ballerina of the time, Italian ballerina, Carlota Grisi, who danced “Giselle” with incredible technique and drama, for years; and whose portrayal of “Giselle”, served as a benchmark for all future ballerinas who took on the role.

Wow! and Yay!

“Giselle” was one of the first full-length ballets to be performed on pointe. And the “pointe” shoes allowed for the dancer to create sylph-like movements, such as floating and flying, allowing for even more poetic movements.

Wow! and Yay!

Finally, of course the philosophical idea, that a dark and powerful spirit world can be defeated by love’s capacity for forgiveness, after pain, is always heartwarming.

Wow! and Yay!

And the three following ABT performers were just incredible: beautiful South Korean Principal Hee Seo, was just pure lightness and charm, as young Giselle: a complex character fragile, yet filled with an incredibly awesome inner fortitude. American Principal Cory Stearns, was perfect as the charming, loving, sexy, remorseful Count Albrecht, and American principal Devon Teuscher, was simply gorgeous and majestic, as the dark Queen of the maiden “wilis” spirits.

Wow! wow! wow!

So, to sum up my feelings about ABT’s “Giselle” admired last Wednesday, in great company, at Lincoln Center’s David H Koch building: what a powerful, beautiful and mesmerizing tale, which brings incredible light and serenity to a dark love story.

Just amazing!

If you live in (or next) to NYC, go and see it, it is still featured until October 31st, at Lincoln Center. I can guarantee that you will be utterly delighted.

Until next time friends!







Eternal butterflies 😊