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What productions of "Giselle" have you seen?


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#1 Alexandra

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Posted 24 April 2001 - 02:04 PM

Which did you particularly like, or dislike, and why? (I'd like to focus more on productions than dancers, at least for now. We've discussed favorite Giselles and Albrechts so often in the past.)

#2 BalletNut

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Posted 24 April 2001 - 02:30 PM

The only Giselle I've seen live was [surprise, surprise] SF Ballet's. It is quite traditional in most respects, except for the peasant pas de cinq and an additional pas de deux for Giselle and Albrecht in Act I. Other than that it is a fine production, especially for its inclusion of the mime for Berthe as she warns Giselle about not dancing too much.

#3 liebs

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Posted 24 April 2001 - 04:05 PM

I was very fond of the David Blair production for ABT. It is the one I am most familiar with and saw it a number of times over the years with great, good and indifferent Giselles.

I did not care for the Bolshoi's recent production, which I saw in NYC last summer. Giselle without the mime doesn't make much sense.

#4 TATSU

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Posted 24 April 2001 - 07:59 PM

I've seen Peter Write's, Vladimir Vashiliev's, and Constantin Sergeyev's.

I like Write's production best, because it's the most logical and dramatic, IMO. It clearly shows the difference in social status between peasants and aristocrats in Act I (for example, Giselle never look at Bathilde directly until knowing she is Albrecht's fiance), so I can straightly understand why Giselle despaired so much when she knew Albrecht was an aristocrat.

[ 04-24-2001: Message edited by: TATSU ]

#5 Sonja

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Posted 25 April 2001 - 02:55 AM

I've seen Sir Peter Wright's both in London (RB) and Munich (Bavarian State Ballet) and also love it - it's so logical. Plus I adore the costumes by John MacFarlane (sp?).
Then, as a contrast, Mats Ek's "Giselle" - but this is probably not the place to discuss about this production...

#6 Juliet

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Posted 26 April 2001 - 09:20 PM

Love the Peter Wright production.
Loved the Kirov one which they brought a couple of years ago to NY.
Don't love the San Francisco one for two reasons: peasant pas de huit (I think it's 8, not 4) and all those brown peasant costumes and girls with babushki on their heads.

#7 CygneDanois

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Posted 26 April 2001 - 10:48 PM

As I recall, it's a peasant pas de cinq--five. I'm pretty sure BalletNut is correct. Of course, if anyone knows differently...

[ 04-26-2001: Message edited by: CygneDanois ]

#8 Juliet

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Posted 27 April 2001 - 11:03 AM

You're correct--it's five.....have no idea why I believed it was eight....

I still thought it was an unimaginative (first act) production--althugh I really enjoyed having the mime performed.

#9 Françoise

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Posted 27 April 2001 - 12:26 PM

Since I go to POB, I saw three differents version of Giselle, even four. The first was the Alonso version where the peasants pdd is a pas de dix for six girls and four boys. The second was the Mary Skeaping reconstitution, I don't remember of it except, she kept after the 1st exist of the wilis, the "fugue" of the wilis. I don't know if this part was danced at the creation or not. After we have a relooked production choregraphied by Bart/Polyakov but in britain set, it was the worst production of all. Especially at first act with a sort of skeleton of Whale. The second act in hanged stones (menhirs) was almost beautiful. Now we have the same choreography except a dance for the Giselle' friends in the coda of peasant pdd in new set inspired by old set up and costum. It's the more traditionnal version at POB.

#10 Alymer

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Posted 01 May 2001 - 04:10 PM

I did a very quick count and discovered to my astonishment that I've seen at least 14 productions of Giselle, plus three versions by Peter Wright for the Royal Ballet companies.
Of the Wright versions I remember the original, which he did for Stuttgart as, the most satisfactory, followed by his production for the RB touring company, the ancestor of the Birmingham Royal Ballet. I somehow feel that as he has gone on revising, he's got further away from the best aspects of his first thoughts.
The most complete was Mary Skeaping's for Festival (now English National) Ballet which used every bar of music and was very long! Sheincluded the second pas de deux for Albrecht and Giselle in ActI, plus a pretty variation for Giselle to a flute solo. And in ActII she included the fuge of the Wilis. Had she been a better choreographer I think it would have been more effective.
The best effects - genuinely amazing, were in a production given in Dusseldorf. They had some kind of film, beautifully done, which showed the Wilis rising from their graves as misty emanations which then became girls, and at the end of Act II (after we has seen the Wilis return to their graves)Giselle simply disappeared into the rising sun. There were other elements of the production which were markedly less successful, not least the replacement of the mime by extra steps!
The most interesting and in many ways the most satisfying was by the late Peter Darrell for Scottish Ballet which set the action of Act I in a completely believable setting - Giselle and her Mum kept the village inn. Wilfred was a retired servant from the castle who lived opposite, the hunting party came to taste the new vintage, etc - Darrell also dispensed with all the music not by Adam.
None was perfect - I suspect the perfect production doesn't exist.

#11 Guest_segreta_*

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Posted 01 May 2001 - 06:36 PM

Sylvie Guillem's version of Giselle performed by Finnish National Ballet was excellent!!! :) :rolleyes: :eek: :) :)

#12 samba38

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Posted 03 May 2001 - 09:07 AM

A co-worker fresh from a biz trip to Cuba last week has come back with a remarkable image of the Ballet Nacional's Giselle April 25. In the final three minutes of Act I, as the mad scene was at full throttle with Lorna Feijoo and Osmay Molina, the taped music died. The dancers carried on flawlessly, says the veteran ballet watcher. At the intermission, another person in his travel group, one who had studied ballet herself before switching to medicine, met him in the lobby with tears in her eyes. She told him she was weeping because the dancers had been softly crying as well as they carried on. Act II had all the music and all the magic, he tells me.

#13 Alexandra

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Posted 03 May 2001 - 01:21 PM

Thanks to everyone who's posted thus far. There's certainly a lot of collective experience here and these have been fun to read.

A few quick notes on the productions I've seen (or that I can remember that I've seen).

American Ballet Theatre -- 3
David Blair (the production I saw the most; solid, old-fashioned. I was quite fond of it. Makarova-Nagy; Kirkland-Baryshnikov; Fracci-Nagy and Nureyev; Makarova-Dowell, Tcherkassy-Bujones, Gregory (not one of Nature's Giselles, IMO), Cynthia Harvey)
Baryshnikov's and the current Uncredited Production.

National Ballet of Canada - 2? I'm sure I saw Bruhn's (with Fracci and Nureyev, and Lotsofotherpeople and Nureyev; Nureyev got three entrances in that production :) ) Somewhere along the line I also saw Peter Schaufuss Ultra Realistic (blood dripping, mad mad mad scene) Giselle, but I can't remember whether it was with NBC or the then-London Festival Ballet.

Mary Skeaping's for Festival Ballet. I agree with Alymer; it could have been a great production :) There were lots of things about it that I liked, but, as we've been talking about on the Hodgson and Archer thread, she started backwards, not really with the sources, so bits of Act II suddenly ended up in the reconstructed solos, and some corps work, in Act I, and it made you think that those dances were foreshadowings of what was to come.

National Ballet of Cuba -- the Wilis are a centipede. I've never seen such precision. I saw Alonso in this when she was 60, and she brought out the mime in the second act -- movements I'd always thought were ports de bra that suddenly became gestures -- and it was quite a revelation. I'm looking forward to seeing it again next season.

Bolshoi -- Grigorovich (Semyenaka and Possukhov, Semizorova and somebody, Ananiashvili and A. Fadeyechev; others on tape)

Kirov -- Vinogradova. An accidental (last minute substitution) performance of Makhlina and Zelensky that I loved. He takes the Standing High Jump Competition medal, in my book, in a nose-to-nose finish with a young Patrick Dupont

Berlin Ballet -- whose production? Nureyev and....Evdokimova?

Australian Ballet, Maina Gielgud. Pretty much the David Blair production, but she added something I'd never seen that I liked very much. It's a "borrowing" from a lost ballet, "The Ballet of the Nuns," at the beginning of Act II. She had the wilis, shrouded and veiled, come forward out of the mist. Great coup de theatre.

Royal Danish Ballet -- Kronstam's, of which I've written before. For me, the production that came closest to perfect, despite the fact that he turned the second act into a dream and double-cast Myrtha and Bathilde. But he had good reasons for it and, more importantly, it was done so subtly it didn't intrude. You could ignore it, or you could read all sorts of things into it. He had a few other things that I thought were very beautiful and I've never seen elsewhere -- Myrtha's branch doesn't break, but its petals fall off, slowly. The phrasing of the second act, especially in the dances of Myrtha with the Wilis, was very subtle and beautiful. All of the Albrechts (Hubbe, Lloyd Riggins, Peter Bo Bendixen) were very young and not yet quite ready, but the Giselles -- Lis Jeppesen, Heidi Ryom and an also very young Rose Gad -- were fine. Jeppesen was somewhere between Fonteyn and Fracci -- classical in line, like Fonteyn, but soft and nunlike, like Fracci. Ryom was very dramatic. Rose Gad had the most beautiful soubresauts I've ever seen. Everybody else looks like a kangaroo to me now. And her mad scene -- which, at Kronstam's direction, she did as trying to recover her balance after receiving such a blow, not going mad -- was extraordinary.

San Francisco Ballet -- Tomasson's. The best of his productions of "the classics," IMO, but still not ideal. Too many contemporary, i.e., out-of-period, trick steps.

Two local productions for small, semi-professional companies, one staged by Paula Tennyson (a former Ballet Russe dancer), the other by Paul Meijia. I loved both of them. The Tennyson one was really for high school kids, and probably nobody in the cast went on to have a career, but it was like a first-rate high school production of "Romeo and Juliet." There were no "cheats" in it, and the audience -- all parents and kids -- got to see a real "Giselle." The Meija one (for him and his wife, Linda Kintz, and a wonderful Myrtha named Christine Matthews) was very romantic, passionate.

Lots on tape, but they don't count. I still haven't seen any British production, and I would have loved to have seen the one Ashton did with Karsavina looking over his shoulder (and his peasant pas de deux -- for Sibley and ? -- and I want to see Paris Opera, too.

#14 Guest_Balarina_*

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Posted 04 May 2001 - 03:47 PM

I've seen ABT and the Royal Ballet. They were both wonderful.

#15 coffee

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Posted 22 March 2004 - 10:14 PM

I saw the Royal Ballet, but as it was my first 'real' ballet and I was 12, I thought it was the greatest thing ever performed. :)


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