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La Sylphide

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February 2, 2005


February 1, 2005

New production presented in honor of August Bournonville Bicentennial

features new sets, costumes and exciting guest artist

(BOSTON, MA)—Boston Ballet presents a new production of the Romantic ballet La Sylphide at The Wang Theatre, March 3-6 and March 10-13, 2005. The production will feature new staging by Sorella Englund after August Bournonville along with elaborate new sets and costumes by Peter Cazalet. La Sylphide tells a timeless and eternally romantic tale of idealized love, passion, revenge and deceit between a young Scotsman, his bride, a conniving witch, and an ethereal sylph.

Sorella Englund will perform the role of the witch, Madge at select performances and will share the role with former New York City Ballet Principal Dancer Merrill Ashley who joins Boston Ballet as a guest artist during La Sylphide.

“I am delighted to open the Company’s spring season with La Sylphide to honor August Bournonville on the bicentennial of his birth. This ballet is truly his masterpiece,” said Nissinen. “Sorella Englund’s new staging complemented by new costumes and sets by Peter Cazalet, will celebrate the Bournonville style in the best possible way and present audiences with a fresh look at this classic.”

La Sylphide is one of the oldest existing works in all of ballet repertoire and is considered the cornerstone Romantic era ballet. In 1832 at the age of 25, August Bournonville was inspired to create his own La Sylphide upon seeing Filippo Taglioni’s version in Paris. Bournonville’s La Sylphide premiered in Copenhagen in 1836 with Lucile Grahn as the sylph and Bournonville himself as James. It is today the most well-known and frequently performed staging of the ballet.

Set to the music of Herman Løvenskjold, La Sylphide is a poignant tale of love and trickery set in the Scottish highlands. At a celebration on the eve of his wedding James is tempted by visions of an ethereal sylph. Madge, the village sorceress, arrives at the party and James’ fiancée, Effie, asks to hear her fortune. James banishes Madge when she tells Effie she will indeed be married – but to someone else. Later that day at the wedding, James is about to give Effie a wedding ring when the sylph from his dream snatches it from his hand and beckons him to follow her into the forest. There, James is met by Madge who gives him a magical scarf that she says will make the sylph his own. Whether her magic is for good or evil remains a mystery.


August Bournonville, born in Copenhagen in 1805, was a dancer and choreographer who directed the Royal Danish Ballet for nearly 50 years and established a distinct style characterized by grace, swift footwork, discreet mime, and profound dramatic impact. Bournonville created more than 50 ballets for the Royal Danish Ballet many of which have remained in its repertoire and that of several other companies for more than a century.

Throughout her career as a reigning ballerina with the Royal Danish Ballet, Sorella Englund performed major roles in several Bournonville ballets including the Sylph and Madge in La Sylphide. She has staged Bournonville ballets for several major companies including the Royal Danish Ballet, The National Ballet of Canada, and the Scottish National Ballet. Englund staged Bournonville’s Abdallah for Boston Ballet in 1990. “Sorella Englund is one of the foremost experts on the Bournonville style in the world. I am thrilled that she is here to stage La Sylphide in Boston and am especially excited that she will perform the role of Madge,” said Nissinen.


Peter Cazalet has been designing sets and costumes for ballet and opera since 1970 and has worked with ballet companies around the world including the Scottish Ballet, Singapore Dance Theater, and the Royal New Zealand Ballet. His design credits include The Nutcracker, A Midsummer Night’s Dream, The Sleeping Beauty, and Swan Lake among many others. This spring he creates new sets and costumes for Boston Ballet’s production of La Sylphide. “With his sets, Cazalet beautifully translates the lush green colors of the Scottish highlands and the russet hues and naturalistic look of a traditional Scottish home to the stage,” said Nissinen. “His tartans stay true to the traditional Scottish look; the kilt worn by James in the production was created in Scotland.”

* * *


Former New York City Ballet Principal Dancer Merrill Ashley will appear as a guest artist in La Sylphide in the role of the witch, Madge. Ashley is currently Teaching Associate for NYCB, a position she assumed upon retiring in 1997 after a 31-year career as a member of the company. During Ashley’s time as a dancer with NYCB, George Balanchine created several ballets for her including Ballade and Ballo de la Regina which she staged for Boston Ballet in 2003. “It is wonderful to have an exceptional artist like Merrill Ashley join us as a guest artist in La Sylphide,” said Nissinen. “Her artistry and elegance will make for a unique and memorable portrayal of Madge.”

Merrill Ashley will appear in the following performances of La Sylphide: Friday, March 4; Saturday, March 5 at 2 p.m.; Thursday, March 10; Friday, March 11; and Saturday March 12 at 8 p.m.

Sorella Englund will appear in La Sylphide on Thursday, March 3 at 7 p.m. and Saturday, March 5 at 8 p.m.

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Tickets for La Sylphide are currently on sale. Prices range from $39-$96. Tickets can be purchased by calling Telecharge at 800-447-7400, by visiting Telecharge online at www.telecharge.com, or in person at The Wang Theatre box office, located at 270 Tremont Street in Boston’s Theatre District. The Wang Theatre box office is open Monday–Saturday from 10a.m.–6 p.m. Discounted group tickets (15 or more) are available by calling Boston Ballet’s Group Sales Office at 617-456-6343. Student rush tickets are available for $15. Full time students; purchased 2 hours before curtain (cash preferred) in person at The Wang Theatre box office on the day of a performance. Student identification must be presented at time of purchase, limit one per student I.D.

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There's two "Informances" involved in this program. The dates are (guests are TBA right now):


Friday, March 4, 7:00 pm

Friday, March 11, 7:00 pm


Dancers, choreographers, musicians, and special guests

offer audience members an insider’s view on the story

line, choreography, history, costumes, and music for

the following season ballets. These informal

discussions are free for all ticket holders and are

held at The Wang Theatre one hour before Friday and

Sunday night performances.

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Did anyone see the four different casts? I was wondering how the new corps member, Misa Kuranaga, performed as the Sylph.

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