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Alexandra

What productions of "Giselle" have you seen?

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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.)

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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.

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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.

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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 ]

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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...

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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.

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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 ]

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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.

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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.

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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.

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

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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.

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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.

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

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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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Off the top of my head: three ABT productions, Bolshoi from a '70s US tour, Royal, Cuba. There must be more. Damn! Why did I toss my old playbills! :wallbash: (I know, ran out of space.)

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I’m pretty sure I saw the Royal Ballet’s Giselle in the late 60s with Fonteyn & Nureyev, but my memory of that one is pretty fuzzy. Ditto Fracci & Bruhn with ABT.

The first performances I remember clearly are of the old ABT Blair production with many different dancers - starting in the early 70’s with Fracci/Bortoluzzi, Gregory/Denard, Gregory/Nagy, D’Antuono/Kivitt, Makarova/Nagy, Makarova/Baryshnikov, Kirkland/Baryshnikov, and Tcherkassky/Nagy. I really loved that old production. I remember the first act scenery used to look kind of crowded at the State Theater, but it was such a clear, traditional production that really let the story come through. I'm so glad to have the Makarova/Baryshnikov/van Hamel tape! Then, fast forward to the 90’s. There was no staging credit for the production I saw with Ferri/Bocca or for the most recent ABT production with McKerrow & Belotserkovsky in 2002, but it seemed pretty similar to the Blair staging. I really think ABT should include it in the rep at least every other year (maybe they could give R&J a rest to make room for it!)

I also saw the Bolshoi’s Lavrovsky production in 1975 with Vasiliev and a young Ludmilla Semenyaka (she was remarkable - right up there with Makarova & Kirkland as my favorite Giselles) and La Scala’s production in the early 80’s with Fracci & Nureyev.

I just saw 3 performances of MCB’s Giselle with Seay/Guerra, Catoya/Ilyin and Lopez/Gamero. I thought the production was a little awkward in it's integration of mime & dancing, and the orchestration could have been better but I still found it to be a very enjoyable production and a worthy effort for a company making it’s first foray into the classics. In the second act, when all the wili’s come out at Myrtha’s command they are all wearing long veils that are magically whisked off & out to the wings simultaneously. I thought it was a very simple, yet effective moment.

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I've also seen Giselle performed by the Latvian Ballet. The first time Giselle was danced by Z. Errs. It was her farewell performance.

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

When the Berlin Ballet danced at the NY State Theatre I'm pretty sure it was Panov's production. Considering how much dancing he added for himself as Hilarion in Act II it might have been called "Hilarion". Evdokimova danced with Imre Dozsa. Panov danced Albrecht with his wife, Galina.

Evdokimova danced Giselle the next week at the Met with the London Festival Ballet. She danced with Nureyev. May have been his production. Of course, there were some extra variations for Albrecht in Act I.

Surprised no one has mentioned DTH's "Giselle" which took place in Louisiana. Why not? "Manon Lescaut" ends up in Louisiana, too.

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I have seen Natalia Makarova's version, which she staged for the Royal Swedish Ballet in 2000. The choreography is pretty traditional. The setting is late 19th century. The first act has a beautiful Monet inspired red poppy field backdrop, but having costumes from this period in this ballet looks a bit odd to me.

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My first Giselle was the one that had the most impact on me! I was so young but remember this one performance so well, it was that exciting! Ulanova dancing Giselle took my breath away. :wink: Not many Giselle's have compared to my first viewing and I have seen many........

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I love Maina Gielguld's Giselle! Beautifully constructed and well produced! The orchestration of the music is gorgeous! If you are in the Houston area, I strongly recommend seeing it next June!!!

:rolleyes:

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For me, the devil's in the details: Principals, coaching, corps de ballet uniformity, beautiful costumes and scenery, close to complete step/mime text, and music values. I've seen the Peter Wright, O. Vinogradov, San Francisco Ballet and NB of Cuba productions.

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Giselle is not my favorite ballet; I like neither the score nor Albrecht. But I have seen a handful along the way:

1971: Had to learn I didn't like the score or Albrecht: ABT, with Makarova, Nagy, and Gregory. (I really liked Gregory. I wanted to be Myrtha.)

1981: Had to see Nureyev once: La Scala Ballet, with Fracci, Nureyev, and Renata Calderini.

1985: Couldn't pass up the Bayou production: Dance Theater of Harlem, with Stephanie Dabney, Donald Williams, and Lorraine Graves. I thought it was a convincing setting, and I really liked Graves.

1999: Chance to see a production staged and coached by Alicia Alonso: Ballet Nacionale de Cuba: Lorna Feijoo, Oscar Torrado, Laura Horrigon (I hope I didn't misspell her name.) I fell in love with Feijoo.

2001: ABT came to Seattle only with Giselle; take it or leave it: Paloma Herrera, Ethan Stiefel, Stella Abrera.

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I just watched the 4 youtube clips from a Giselle performed by Alessandra Ferri and Maximiliano Guerra (1998) and choreographed by Alicia Alonso. Even watching it on youtube I found it incredibly moving. It is, for me, a very human and natural production and very powerful dramatically. Cubanmiamiboy commented that the Alonso Giselle is "for some critics, OVER ROMANTICIZED". But with these two wonderful dancers I found it one of the most alive Giselles I have seen. If only it were available on dvd....

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