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Marc Haegeman

POB's Giselle

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The casts for the Paris Opera's "Giselle" in February have been announced on the site of the POB (click on ballets, then Giselle, distributions). Noteworthy is the presence of two eminent guests: Alina Cojocaru who will dance with Manuel Legris, and Svetlana Zakharova dancing with Laurent Hilaire.

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I saw the POB's Giselle last summer and found it a wonderful production that emphasized the original romantic style. The cast I admired most was that of Elisabeth Maurin and Kader Balarbi and I'm a little saddened that their names don't appear on the casting list this time around.

In all fairness I have to say that I found Maurin less strong in technique in the second act than I would ideally like to see, but her interpretation of the role as a whole was quite outstanding as she has that rare ability to touch the hearts of her audience. Balarbi was also memorable with his sympathetic understanding of Albrecht. I hope this isn't a case of the POB taking an ageist view of this couple.

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Mashinka, Maurin has been absent from the POB stage for a a few months now (I don't think she's danced since the beginning of the season?), and as far as I know there has been no official announcement about the reason for it (but in previous years I don't think there has been any "ageism" in the "Giselle" casts, for example several principals had their official farewell performance in that ballet). About Belarbi, I've no idea if his absence is his own choice of the direction's (but in the last seasons he seemed to be less and less interested in classical roles).

Here's a direct link to the casts:

http://www.opera-de-paris.fr/0304/fiche_588_distri.html

But of course, as usual they're likely to be modified several times before the performances...

Also I hope that they'll add the casts for Myrtha.

I regret that Clairemarie Osta won't dance it (as Maurin, she's been absent from the stage

for a while)... And also that Delphine Moussin won't, as her expressiveness and grace could be well-suited to the role (I think that she's likely to dance Myrtha, as she already danced it in previous seasons).

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We won't see Maurin for the next few month, and Belarbi got injured last month, during a performance of "Un Trait d'Union".

Edited by traviata

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The full casts are available (and hopefully, updated regularly) on the POB web site now:

http://www.opera-de-paris.fr/0304/fiche_588_distri.html

There already have been some changes: Jean-Guillaume Bart, who was supposed to dance the premiere, seems to be out :blink: He'll be replaced by Nicolas Le Riche). Also Marie-Agnès Gillot will be cast only at the end of the series.

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Kader Belarbi is not injuried he danced Trait d'Union, it was his partner Jeremie Belingard who was injuried. Against he doesn't want dance all the classical parts now, because he has back problems :shrug: !

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Some more detailed casts (with also Myrtha, Hilarion and the peasant pas de deux) are available on the POB web site (link above).

Also there have been a few changes, for example Wilfried Romoli was supposed to dance Hilarion at the beginning of the series, but now he's listed only for some performances on Feb 25th, Mar 2nd and 4th, and he'll be replaced by Yann Bridard for the other performances he was listed in.

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Thank you, Estelle -- I hope you'll be going to some of these and telling us about them! :wacko:

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Yesterday will have the first performance of Giselle with the debuts in Paris of Aurelie Dupont in title part.

She is a wonderful Giselle, she is a charmant peasant, happy to be in love, and who wants only love and dance. She is technically amazing in first act with slowned tours, high balance arabesque, she is musical too.

Her madness is a modern madness far from cry and shout, not eye wide open, she doesn't know where she is but she remains all the attitude of Loys with her, she is afraid by her heart, but she doesn't want to become a wili as her mother told her. She is a modern and very classical Giselle. At the second act, she is the Spirit that Giselle must be, she is so light, and all her technic is absolutely wonderful with arabesques at the breach of balance, movement of torso, of arms, of feets, she is an uncredible Giselle for her first performance and will be one of the greatest ! She is a spirit desesperatly in love. Run to see her.

Besides of her, Nicolas Le Riche is a good Albrecht, but he lacks of something in first act, we don't really see him, it's sure that he is in love with Giselle. At the second act, he is good partner and superb technically dancer.

Karl Paquette is an usual Hilarion shared between love and hate, but we don't have any feeling for him.

Delphine Moussin is perfect as dancer, but she is not Myrtha, she is not too cold to be the rude Queen of Wilis, we feel in her a woman who suffer but not a woman who wants to revenge of all the men. She is light too, but she suffers by the presence on stage of Aurelie.

Corps is beautiful except in the cross over stage where we don't see one legs. In Peasants pdd, Mélanie Hurel and Benjamin Pech who will dance title roles next saturday are completely the character, she is a charming peasant girl, he danced very well.

But the attraction of the evening was really Aurélie Dupont, the most beautful Giselle I saw since long years !

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Thanks Françoise for your thoughts! From what you wrote I gather you are the same person who leads the French forum on other website - it's very nice to have your contributions here in English! (Incidentally that forum is very informative, and I always enjoy struggling to comprehend what French readers have to say - despite a huge language barrier!)

I've read your accounts with enormous interests, particularly on Aurelie Dupont, after having found her utterly enchanting in Balanchine's pieces back in October and December. It seemed as if she had been reborn as a ballerina after the injury break..... If I get lucky I could catch a glimpse of her this weekend (unfortunately I've been unable to book a ticket so far) - please keep fingers crossed for me!

>>Delphine Moussin is perfect as dancer, but she is not Myrtha, she is not too cold to be the rude Queen of Wilis, we feel in her a woman who suffer but not a woman who wants to revenge of all the men.

Oh good - that's a kind of Myrtha I'd love to see. I'm really tired of seeing yet another blood-thirsty queen of zombies, rather than willis....

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Thanks Naoko :wub: !

By a very strange way, I want a modern and romantic Giselle but I'm waiting for a traditional Myrtha :rolleyes: !

Yesterday, it was the debuts at Opera de Paris of Alina Cojocaru in the title role. I must say, I was disappointed by her, she is too traditionnal for me. She is a shy peasant, all what must be Giselle, but I think I didn't love this kind of Giselle, I prefer a modern vision of the part especially in Act1. And I think she was bad partnered by Manuel Legris, not because he is bad in his dance. He is Albrecht in his pure style dance, in his interpretation, but he is too old for the young Alina, and the couple don't function :) ! I was surprised also that she makes too many little technical faults in her variation in act 1.

At the second act, she lacks of "body", she is just a spirit, for me Giselle is a spirit but a form of ghost and a ghost is a body without life, but a body. Alina is a spirit, she doesn't have this form of "body" :shrug: ! She is a pretty ballerina, I think she has stage fright because of parisian audience. I think I will find her very nice if I didn't see Aurélie Dupont the night before with her mixed way between modernity of her madness, and tradition and romantiscm in second act. I think I'm disappointed because I'm waiting too many of her interpretation due to all I read about her in all the forum and the reviews too :wacko: ! Manuel Legris was handsome, with the French style, and he makes a wonderful variation in second act and a wonderful succession of entrechats 6.

Naoko, you will love Eleonora too, she is herself a little more cold than Delphine but she is also a woman and not the queen of Wilis ! Against she lacks of something technically speaking. Yann Bridard is a modern Hilarion whose you can understand and love !

Corps was better than first night.

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What do you mean by "too traditional" for Giselle, Catherine? Could you possibly elaborate a bit on this?

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I think audience has changed since 19e century, I loved a part of modernity in the way of dance a role. I think Giselle can be more modern than before. It's difficult to explain in english what I feel because I lack of vocabulary. It's evident that Giselle is a ballet from 19e century, but interprets are modern and dance for modern audience :shrug: !

I think my conception of Giselle is a traditionnal view but with a modern part. For example, Aurélie Dupont is completely Giselle, she is absolutely romantical in second act but in first act, with tradition she arrives to be modern and old :) !

Alina is a wonderful Giselle when you never see the ballet. But I saw several Giselle, and now I'm waiting for other thing I think :shrug: .

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Yesterday night were the third previous cast for this serial of performance of Giselle. Title couple was Agnès Letestu and José Martinez.

As Aurélie Dupont, Agnès has a modern view about the part, certainly because she is tall and too many people think that Giselle can't be small. She appears as a young girl very shy, and very special, she is not as Mats Ek' part, but she looks sometimes in this way, ot the girl with some problem. She is like a little girl and she is glad that Loys is interested by her. Her madness is very single too, very soft, but moving and it's the most important to my eyes. She doesn't make an old madness with cry, shouts, and so on. Her modern view is really glad to see. In second act, we find back Agnès more traditionnal with her back, her arms, her long arabesques. She is very fine in Marguerite's remember.

Her partner was José Martinez who is a very interesting Albrecht, he comes to play with her. But in Giselle's madness, he felt something else, is it love, or is it sorrow and desire that Giselle returns in her true life. I don't know. At the second act, he makes an entry absolutely wonderful with all the regrets and the sadness of the world. His variation is a model of style, and his coda also where he ask for pity to Myrtha. really a beautiful Albrecht.

It was certainly the most beautiful couple that I saw since the beginning, in the first cast, Aurélie is a wonderful Giselle, but her couple with Nicolas doesn't function every time. In the second cast, Manuel Legris is a wonderful Albrecht but his couple with Alina Cojocaru doesn't function.

As Myrtha, Stéphanie Romberg is not so well dancing than Delphine Moussin, but she is more my view about Myrtha, very strong woman. Yann Bridard is a very interesting Hilarion very loved of Giselle and who wants not revenge but open her eyes.

In Peasants pdd, Dorothée Gilbert, new sujet since last december and one of the big Hope of POB is a charming girl who completely understand style of the pdd and danced with lightness, charm, musicality, she was well partnered by Alessio Carbone, but he makes some little technical faults in his variation. Their couple is very good.

In two wilis Soloist, a special mention to Natacha Quernet who is really extraordinary by her romantical style, her arms, her arabesque and so on.

Certainly the most equilibrated Giselle I saw since the beginning !

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Hi, I'm Rosmarinus, a new member, would like to say hello to all members in this Forum. 

It's a bit sudden, but may I join in this topic?

Well,

Francoise

Nice to meet (?) you.

I like to say thank you for your account of Giselle here in Ballet Talk. Because Giselle is my faourite ballet and POB is as well. It is very happy to read your accounts.

I understand your preference for modern Giselle with interests in your analysis of the audience these days. Then here I want to ask you what you write of interpretation of Giselle in Act 1.

Like Marc Haegeman asked, I wonder what is traditional and modern for Giselle. You said that Aurelie was modern in Act I. And also was Agnes. You wrote about Aurelie ; "her madness is modern madness far from cry and shout, not eye wide open." And about Agnes; "her madness is very simple. " With those comment, I guess that traditional Giselle cries lot and its madness is exocentric a sort of... on the contrary, modern Giselle is simple and not cries hard...Is that what you mean or what you feel? And with this meaning, you felt very traditional for Alina? She cried stronger than POB dancers did? She released her hair with big gesture? If you let me know what you think, I'm very pleased.

Oh, one more, about the partnership of main role is important in Grand Ballet, I think, but especially for this Ballet Giselle, the partnership between Giselle and Albrecht is the fundamental element. So I hope that you will see their (Aurelie and Nicola) good partnership next.

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I think it's the conception of the part who seems modern or not.

Aurelie and Agnès made modern Giselle before their madness, especially Agnès who seems to look in side of Mats Ek's version without be like in.

The both don't cry, don't run too over the stage when they feel the heart attack. They have too many little intentions in their acting before, with their look, their smile and it's difficult to explain.

Mélanie Hurel I saw tonight was a very traditionnal Giselle too, she is not crying, but she runs too, she feels the cold freeze of death in her arm, but I don't know why I like more her madness than Cojocaru's one.

And for the hairs, Agnes has all the time long hair as Cojocaru. Against Aurélie released some of her hair not all.

It's very difficult for me to explain in english why I found Aurelie and Agnès modern. What is sure it's for me the best Giselle was Aurélie Dupont.

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Francoise, thank you very much indeed. :D

I could sense what you felt modern in Giselle by Aurelie. I had read a critic about her Giselle. It told that she was very quiet, didn’t make strong gesture when she collapsed to the death. After a look of it, I really wanted to see such Giselle. Because there’re many many Giselles in traditional style. But quiet a few like Aurelie. And this seems to be her way for Giselle. This time not available, hope next time !!

I remembered Giselle by Laetitia, who was quiet the same, I mean rather modern, even though she was a bit intense to release her hair. But ex-Etoiles, like Monique Loudieres, Elisabeth Maurin, they were very traditional, I saw. Still Mélanie was a bit traditional, but compared to ex-Etoiles, it might be the way for younger etoiles to interpret Giselle modern in POB these day. And it would suit to the audience in 21st century.

I hope you enjoy “Giselle” if you see more days

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Yesterday night was the débuts in Giselle Part of Mélanie Hurel, she is a traditionnal Giselle too, in the POB style. She is a very shy peasant, who is attracted by the gentle way to be of Loys, he kiss her hands, a knee on floor for example. Technically she is very correct even if she is not as Aurélie or Agnès who have long high balance in their arabesque for example. Her madness is perhaps a few scolar, but she is interesting and could be a very good Giselle in future. In second act, she is very light, she makes any noise when she jumps, but she lacks of some torso movements.

She was well partnered by Benjamin Pech, he is a perfect parner, his acting is very interesting and very modern too. I love when Bathilde discover the truth, the way he tries to said to her to not say nothing to Giselle, but it's too late. Technically, he is amazing with very good jumps, and superb battery.

Nathalie Aubin, unfortunately injuried herself on stage yesterday night but I didn't love her Myrtha before, is it due to the injury or to her way to play her, I never know. I hope she will recover quickly especially she is a dancer who never injuried, it's hard to see that on stage. She was replaced by Muriel Hallé to make go out from wings :D and not from her grave the Ghost of Giselle. After she was replaced by the young Aurore Cordellier who was interesting in the few we saw her.

Stéphane Elizabé is a good Hilarion, he knows that Giselle will never love him and he seems to accept but he wants open her eyes about the true Loys, he doesn't want act by revenge, but by love !

In peasants pdd, Myriam Ould Braham and Mallory Gaudion were technically excellent but they lacks of something, they seem dance "alone together" and never we saw the play between the two actor as wth Dorothée Gilbert and Alessio Carbone.

Despite the injury of Nathalie, it was a very interesting evening, and very strangely I love also this traditionnal view of Giselle part :shrug:

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Personally, I appreciated a lot Mélanie Hurel as Giselle. Physically, she fits the role, and she makes the best of her medium height. It seems she worked a lot the top part of her body. Her acting was spontaneous, vivacious and touching.

I think I also did enjoy so much the performance because of Benjamin Pech, who was an Albrecht perfectly suited to Mélanie.

As regards the peasants pas de deux, I totally agree with you, Françoise: Myriam ould-Braham and Mallory Gaudion didn't seem to be dancing together... But they were very good individually.

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As the performances of Giselle are now over, I'd like to say some words about all the Giselles I had the opportunity to see.

Aurélie Dupont gave us, by far, the best rendition of the title role. She has everything you expect a Giselle to have: style, beautiful rounded technique, a great acting and the little something more that makes a ballerina an "Etoile". In the first act, her dance is light, joyful and you totally understand why Albrecht loves her. Her variation is amazing, with beautiful balances. Her madness is very interesting and when you see Aurélie in it, you understand what this scene really means; she is discret, but you can really see how powerful her sorrow is; her heart attack is also very well announced and her death is really the climax of a long suffering. But the highlight of a performance is without a doubt her second act; she is a beautiful and moving wili. Her dance is once again perfect (I particularly like the way she is moving her arms and the head of her body) and you can see what a wonderful Giselle she will be by the years. Her Albrecht was LeRiche and, although he is a really interesting Albrecht, deeply in love with Giselle and with such an amazing technique, their couple lack the chemistry one should expect to see between Albrecht and Giselle.

Agnès Letestu also gave us a beautiful performance of Giselle and it is a lot to say for me as I'm not a big fan of Agnès. Her first act really impressed me: she has a very particular way of playing the character (with some mind problems or something like that); her variation and her madness were very good. Her second act was exactly how one should expect Agnès to be in it and therefore I like her second act a little less, but her technique was brilliant. Martinez's Albrecht was the best and the most complete I saw; he perfectly fits Agnès' Giselle and their couple was therefore the most moving of all.

I also very liked Zakharova's Giselle; the Bolshoi star gave us a different face of the character but it was very interesting, and what a delight to see her dancing! Her madness is a little overplayed, but it fits totally with the rest of her part and therefore her first act was really charming. Her second act was also very well-danced, but I liked a little less the way she was playing the character (but what a relief to see at last a Giselle who is still acting in the second act, even it's a little more); she is too living for me. Hilaire's Albrecht was a good surprise for me, as I haven't see him in a classical part for a long time; his technique is still good and his first act was really moving (he has the best reaction to the death of Giselle), even the best. His acting in the second act was a little less interesting, as Zakharova's, but I spent a wonderful night.

Alina Cojocaru was a discovery for me and I was eager to finally see her dance after all I have heard or read about her and her Giselle. But I have to admit that I was a little disappointed by her Giselle, although I really liked the ballerina. Her first act is really charming and she dances beautifully, but I find she lacks some dramatic weight, particularly in the second act: too living, almost too light, she made me think of a "sylphide" and not of a wili. Her couple with Legris (who was a good Albrecht, although I would have liked to see him in the part a few years ago)didn't work at all. But Cojocaru is an endearing ballerina and after having seen her in Giselle, I just want to see her again and in another part who perhaps fits her better (Juliet, Cinderella, Aurora...)

Last but not least was Laetitia Pujol's Giselle, as everybody praised her performance in the role in July. Although she is very good in that role, has the perfect style, a wonderful technique and physically fits the part, I must say that I was not totally convinced by her Giselle, and I was particularly disappointed by her madness: too classic, exactly how I figured she would be and thus not really moving. Her couple with LeRiche was working, but that was the night I less liked. And I really wonder when Pujol will grow in her interpretations of her roles, because, although she has an amazing technique, I expect something more from an Etoile.

Among all the Myrthas I saw, Marie-Agnès Gillot was by far the best: authority, elegance, wonderful technique! Moussin danced also very beautifully (one of the most beautiful ballerinas of the Paris Opéra), but she lacks something.

The best Hilarion I saw was Bridard; a really moving and interesting way to play the part.

And finally, in the Peasant pdd, Dorothée Gilbert gave us once again a wonderful performance; she really appears (and even more everytime I see her dancing) as the future great Etoile of the POB.

The corps was also very good.

Well, that's all about Giselle. I hope you will understand all I wanted to say.

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