Ghostly, Graceful, Giselle
Imagine being wooed by someone who just wanted to sow some wild oats, as it were. Then imagine yourself falling hopelessly in love with that person – only to find out that the object of your affection really sought you out simply as an object of desire to be quenched with carnal love.
Would you forgive this person?
Would you forgive this person if the result of the encounter was your death, due to a broken heart?
Would you also forgive this person if that person, without intending to, had actually fallen in love with you, too?
A medieval peasant girl by the name of Giselle does.
For an all-too-brief ten days, the Pacific Northwest Ballet (PNB) is performing its latest ballet in McCaw Hall: Giselle. (Your Hedonista attended a matinée performance as media last Saturday.) With its new staging by PNB Artistic Director Peter Boal, this Giselle - with the libretto by Jules-Henri Vernoy de Saint-Georges and Théophile Gautier and music by French composer Adolphe Adam (with additional music by Friedrich Burgmüller and Ludwig Minkus) – marks a world première. Running June 3rd until this Sunday, June 12th, 2011, there are still a few more opportunities to enjoy this latest ballet in town.
Considered to be one of the greatest tragedies in the history of the ballet, Giselle originally debuted at the Paris Ballet du Théâtre de l’Académie Royale de Musique in 1841. A Romantic era work of art, Giselle is a young peasant girl from a medieval German grape-growing village who is seduced – and subsequently betrayed – by a nobleman. This nobleman, Duke Albrecht of Silesia, poses as a fellow peasant so as to sow some serious wild oats prior to his marriage to his betrothed, the Prince’s daughter, named Bathilde.
Giselle goes mad when she discovers the truth and the rooted depths of Albrecht’s deception – and subsequently joins the ranks of the supernatural Wilis, who are the ghosts of women who were scorned before their mortal wedding days and thus doomed in the afterlife to take their revenge on unsuspecting men by killing them.
This performance is both ghostly and graceful; it comes complete with graceful pas de deux duets and such “ghostly” movements across the entire stage as a series of grand pas arabesque penchées by the Wilis and a pas de bourrée en pointe series by the deceased Giselle.
(There’s even a Mime Guide to assist with the story as it unfolds – what more could one ask for?)