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Question #10: Why does Giselle love Albrecht?


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#1 Alexandra

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Posted 22 April 2001 - 10:33 AM

This is not as silly a question as it may seem. This is very specifically mentioned in the libretto (the Beaumont version of it, at any rate) and is one of several things that has gotten buried in several later productions of the ballet.

#2 Marc Haegeman

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Posted 22 April 2001 - 03:51 PM

Because he is a good dancer ;)

#3 Alexandra

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Posted 22 April 2001 - 05:01 PM

Exactly! Not only is he a good dancer, but he is the only person she's met who loves to dance as much as she does.

I wish people who stage ballets would go back and read the original libretto; they'd get some lovely ideas :) I think usually stagers start with the one they're used to and fiddle with it to make it make sense OR look at lots of other productions for ideas and put them all together (that is, that's what the ones who think do :) )

The original libretto -- at least, as rendered by Beaumont -- makes so much sense and is so darned DANCEY. Either he left out a lot, or much has been added. I didn't find a reference to a weak heart. Giselle likes to dance, i.e., play, instead of working, and her mother tells her to stop dancing, that she's dancing too much and will come to a bad end. "Just one more dance, mother. Just one more," she says.

Many of the edges of Romantic ballet were buffed off and sentimentalized later in the century, and Giselle seems to have changed from a spirited, shallow young girl into St. Giselle somewhere along the line. It's not in the Beaumont I have now, but I remember reading somewhere that when Hilarion asks her, basically, "So what's he got that I haven't got?" (hinting, inexhaustible supply of rabbits, a good job, a better hut) she says, "He is beautiful and you are not."

If Albrecht has his epiphany in watching the terrible results of his flirtation, Giselle herself was redeemed, saved from Wilidom -- a whole tribe of girls who didn't listen to their mothers -- because she is struck by Albrecht's sincere sorrow and repentance. There's a bit of humanity (Christianity, in this world) left in her and that's what saves both of them.

#4 felursus

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Posted 22 April 2001 - 05:20 PM

Albrecht is young, good-looking (ok - a good dancer), a little mysterious (in small villages everyone knows everything about everyone else), and Mom isn't smitten - so a romance with Albrecht has a whiff of the forbidden - something that would be enticing to a young, romantically-inclined girl. I think that Albrecht's attraction is something akin to that of a rock star to a contemporary teenager.

The REASONS, IMO, that Giselle's mother doesn't approve of Albrecht are 1)he's a stranger and not enough is known about him; 2)he's encouraging Giselle to dance instead of following more serious persuits; 3)she wants Giselle to marry Hilarion. Hilarion is a forester and is, therefore, of a slightly higher social order than the rest of the peasants. He has access to the "fruits" of the forest - small game and wood - which are forbidden to the other peasants, and so is "wealthier". Giselle, by marrying him will never go hungry and will have a more comfortable life than she would if she married an ordinary peasant boy. Hilarion is also somewhat older, and so he can be expected to be steadier and behave in a more mature fashion than the rest of the "boys".

#5 Kyeong

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Posted 23 August 2010 - 03:07 PM

I also think Giselle loved Albrecht because he was good-looking (in this regards, I like Mme. Hermine’s posting under Hilarion topic that Makaroba was heard that Giselle didn’t like Hilarion because of his red beard), but I would like to attribute the underlying reason why she was attracted to good-looking Albrecht, not Hilarion who guaranteed a financially stable life, to her nature as an artist, not to her romantic girlishness. IMO, Giselle simply has the ability to appreciate and love anything beautiful and she follows her emotion, like an artist does (and, though her choice was not rewarded as she expected, even in terms of joy and happiness, she embraced and saved the world who had been so harsh or caddish to her).

As I didn’t have much knowledge of the details of Giselle, I was surprised when Kent's Giselle touched the silk dress of Bathlide on the first performance day, and suspected whether Giselle is a material girl, eager to wear an expensive dress, and further Giselle loves Albrecht due to his wealth or social status which he might have exuded. I abandoned such suspect when I could clearly see Kent’s face the other day, because her Giselle was so pure and innocent that I came to believe that she touched the dress wholly because she wanted to look prettier to Albrecht in such a lovely dress as a girl who just fell in love, and such innocence of desire might have moved Bathlide to give her gold necklace to Giselle. Maybe somewhat influenced by Kent’s Giselle, who seemed pure and thoughtful, I wished to find a more favorable interpretation for Giselle, expanding her dance-loving character to more general beauty or art loving nature.

#6 cargill

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Posted 24 August 2010 - 09:56 AM

About Giselle's weak heart, I remember reading that originally, when she was French, she killed herself, so was buried in unconcecrated ground, which is why Myrtha was able to dig her up. Then when she migrated to Russia, the censors (bowing to the Orthodox Church) wouldn't allow a suicide on stage, so she developed a bad heart. The French version always makes more sense to me.

#7 Marcmomus

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Posted 24 August 2010 - 10:56 AM

If Albrecht is so keen on dancing why in many versions does he seem to demur for a moment when she asks him to dance with her? Modesty that he isn't any good? That he'd prefer to watch her dance than join her?

#8 sunday

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Posted 24 August 2010 - 10:57 AM

So, Are the Wilis of the French version the spirits of the women who killed themselves after being scorned by their lovers? It would make sense, as cursed souls who are denied the access to Heaven because of being driven to suicide by Casanova wannabes, and would make a very popular Goth/Zombie themed terror ballet.

Or, indeed, a movie by Tim Burton: Johnny Depp as Hilarion, Bonham-Carter as Myrtha, and that couple from Twilight as Albrecht and Giselle. Natalie Portman could be a convincing Giselle. But only if her career survives Black Rac..., er, Swan.

#9 cargill

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Posted 25 August 2010 - 05:18 AM

Actually, I would prefer Joan Crawford as Myrtha!

#10 Mme. Hermine

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Posted 25 August 2010 - 06:22 AM

Gail Sondergaard!!!

#11 bart

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Posted 25 August 2010 - 08:40 AM

If Albrecht is so keen on dancing why in many versions does he seem to demur for a moment when she asks him to dance with her? Modesty that he isn't any good? That he'd prefer to watch her dance than join her?

Interesting questions. Is it possible that he doesn't want to call attention to himself -- or to his unfamiliarity with village dances?

One of the serious confusions of Act I for me is just how far Albrecht is perceived as -- or believes that he is perceived as -- a part of village life. Is he, for instance, seriously trying to disguise his origins. Given a social structure in which the barriers between peasant and nobleman were vast and almost always unbridgeable, wouldn't public dancing just call attention to his other-ness.

Granted, this is one of those happy-go-lucky cartoon peasant communities (so beloved by 19th-century ballet makers) in which most people don't notice much, unless it involves a murder, sucide, violent weather, invasion by pirates, or something on that order. But, even allowing for that, Albrecht might reasonably fear that exposing himself on the dance floor might convince at least a few of them -- not just Hilarion -- that he is NOT one of them.


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