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POB Giselle 2006-7 Season


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There was a brief report on the POB's Giselle on the evening news of France 2 today. Click on the link and use the menu on the right to skip ahead to 34 minutes past the hour to see Aurelie Dupont and a little bit of Nicolas Le Riche. It will also be available under "Les éditions précédentes" for the next week.


And Johnny Hallyday is moving to Switzerland for tax reasons. :blushing: (Seriously, I don't understand why producers of news programs think stories like this merit top billing.)

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Thanks for the link, volcanuhunter (now I'll have to install the suitable stuff to be able to read it...)

Well, the media always seem to spend a lot of times about any detail concerning Johnny Hallyday (a sixty-something French singer, for all the readers unfamiliar with that name- very famous in France), and perhaps even more now as he also is a bit involved in the presidential campaign as he publicly supported a candidate.

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For those interested, the POB website now has the updated Giselle casting with the peasant pas de deux and the 2 leading Wilis. Manuel Legris will be dancing two performances.

The Hurel/Ganio pairing was a real treat last weekend - they looked lovely together and they both acted their parts incredibly well. Aurélie Dupont the next day was a wonder in Act 2 - her dancing was flawless, truly ghostly - unfortunately, she has a hard time playing the peasant in Act 1, and Nicolas Le Riche is not the best partner for her...

Emmanuel Thibault and Myriam Ould Braham are close to perfection in the peasant pas de deux, warm, sunny, technically amazing (Thibault's jumps made the audience gasp) - I'm so glad they are scheduled to be on the DVD.

More to come later, I will see other casts as well, including one of the recorded performances. If anyone went, tell us what you thought ;)

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The Hurel/Ganio pairing was a real treat last weekend - they looked lovely together and they both acted their parts incredibly well.

I have heard Ganio express admiration for the Albrechts of Baryshnikov and Le Riche. Does his performance resemble theirs in any way? I have a difficult time imagining that it would since he doesn't resemble either one of them physically.

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I have heard Ganio express admiration for the Albrechts of Baryshnikov and Le Riche. Does his performance resemble theirs in any way? I have a difficult time imagining that it would since he doesn't resemble either one of them physically.

I haven't seen Baryshnikov's Albrecht and therefore couldn't comment... But Ganio's take on the part didn't resemble Le Riche's IMO. Matthieu Ganio has a much more restrained bearing, which fits his physical appearance, and he was very much the prince who has fallen in love unexpectedly. Le Riche always seems to be giving his all when he's on stage (not that Ganio wasn't of course, but it shows differently) - he's more of a virtuoso, and his Albrecht appears totally spontaneous, less aristocratic, but his relationship to Giselle wasn't as strongly portrayed as in the Hurel/Ganio cast. I'm looking forward to his performance with Laëtitia Pujol, as she was his original partner.

And if anyone can watch French TV, France 3 will be airing Giselle on January 1 (Pujol/Le Riche/Gillot).

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The cast is:

Albrecht : Nicolas Le Riche

Giselle : Laetitia Pujol

Hilarion : Wilfried Romoli

Myrtha : Marie Agnes Gillot

I think but I may be wrong that E. Thibault will dance the peasants' pas de deux with Myriam Ould Braham or Aubane Philbert.

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Casting is as follows for the DVD :

GISELLE Laëtitia Pujol

ALBRECHT Nicolas Le Riche

HILARION Wilfried Romoli

QUEEN OF THE WILLIS Marie-Agnès Gillot

PEASANT PAS DE DEUX Myriam Ould-Braham / Emmanuel Thibault

TWO WILLIS Emilie Cozette/ Laura Hecquet

I guess it will be released at the end of 2007, or in 2008, if it takes as much time as asual.

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This year's run of Giselle hasn't disappointed, although fans will always find some casting decisions questionnable. All in all, I rather enjoyed all the performances I saw.

In the title role, Mélanie Hurel and Laëtitia Pujol did an especially wonderful job, I thought. Mélanie Hurel may not have the most amazing technique, but this is not what matters most in Giselle for me, and actually her rather humble demeanor on stage is perfect for the part. She doesn't do tricks - on the contrary, she is extremely sincere, and really portrays the shy peasant falling in love. She and Matthieu Ganio were wonderful together, with lovely details - M. Ganio seems more and more in command on stage, while taking great care of his partner. They both seemed to be telling a story from beginning to end. Mélanie Hurel, in the second act, remains very human, while Aurélie Dupont for instance portrays a ghostly Giselle. Her interpretation felt right - some gestures made more sense that way, and it carried an emotion that made this part of the ballet all the more powerful.

Aurélie Dupont is a wonder in Giselle. Her technique is absolutely unbelievable - in the second act, her balances, her footwork have to be seen to be believed. She skims very lightly above the ground, as if weightless. She is undoubtedly one of the greatest ghosts in the ballet world right now :blink: , and yet somehow I felt she could be incomparably better if she put her greatest effort into acting. But it's true I saw her with Nicolas Le Riche, who was replacing Laurent Hilaire and Manuel Legris (both got injured), and they just don't seem to work as a partnership. In the first act, she was just too coquettish for my taste, very much a star playing a peasant but who knows she's a star. But her white act is truly wonderful (partnering issues aside - I think that's why she was off the music at some point) - unlike Ms. Hurel and Pujol, who keep on acting, the emotion seems to pour from the utter perfection of her dancing and the otherworldly forms she creates on stage. I may not have been entirely partial to her Giselle when I saw her, but all the praise she gets is more than deserved, and I hear she did much better acting-wise with Manuel Legris, her usual partner.

Laëtitia Pujol, who was recorded for a future DVD release, may well have struck the best balance between sincere acting and dancing. Unfortunately, I saw her in her last recorded performance, while she had just had another one the previous day and hadn't danced in a year before this run - I think this accounts for the technical problems she encountered (she fell off pointe twice during the diagonal of ballonnés in the first act), since she is known as a very strong technician. Despite that, I enjoyed very much her portrayal. As a peasant, she lit up the stage with joy and the same sincerity Mélanie Hurel had shown. They share a very "common" stage persona (and it's not a criticism at all), which has nothing to do with tricks. Ms. Pujol's sweet demeanor makes one smile and feel sympathy for the character. Her mad scene is therefore all the most poignant : she stares at us like a wild animal, with extremely expressive eyes, and one feels really swept up into the drama. Her humaneness in the second act is very moving - she keeps on telling a story, which really helps building a coherent whole with Albrecht and Myrtha. Nicolas Le Riche was great with her as Albrecht, displaying expressive dancing and amazing jumps.

As Myrtha, Laura Hecquet's debut was most promising. She belongs to an "emploi" which is not so well represented in the company today : a tall dancer, I think of her as a natural for the "Queen" roles (Myrtha, Queen of the Dryads, Odette). Her breakthrough performance was at last year's Young Dancers program, where she essayed the lead in Balanchine's Diamonds pas de deux. She made a lasting impression with her perfect classicism and serene demeanor, and has since been moving on to soloist roles. Her Myrtha only confirmed she is a great hope, although she cannot yet fully grasp Marie-Agnès Gillot's authority. Her dancing is utterly pure and classical, with fine lines. She defined very clearly the crescendo her character seems to go through at the beginning of the second act, from the quietness of her bourrés on to the authority of her grands jetés. She pulled off particularly well the manège of jetés that comes after the diagonal, remaining strongly on top of the music instead of being drowned by it (I find it especially difficult, since the music is so authoritative at that point, while the steps do not have the same immediate impact as the always impressive big jumps).

Marie-Agnès Gillot was of course very impressive, and remains the strongest Myrtha of the company, with impressive jumps. Her nuanced acting gives more depth to the character. I still somehow feel the lack of classical roles shows in her dancing - I do not really enjoy her arms and fingers, which can look at times unelegant. She has the authority of an Etoile in this part though, and it makes a difference.

Samuel Murez, a last-minute substitution for Yann Bridard, did incredibly well as Hilarion. His acting has wonderful details, and it worked perfectly with Mélanie Hurel and Matthieu Ganio, who were both responding to him. I discovered afterwards that he was only just quadrille in the company... Well done to him. Stéphane Phavorin and Wilfried Romoli also gave well-defined readings of the part, but more on the brutish side (especially M. Romoli), with a somewhat muted love for Giselle.

In the peasant pas de deux, Emmanuel Thibault and Myriam Ould-Braham were about as good as it can get. His jumps elicited spontaneous applause, while her delicacy is perfectly suited to the part. What's more, they both acted ; from the moment they step on stage, they're with their friends, taking delight in being part of the celebrations, and in the pas de deux itself they truly seem in love with each other, making eye contact whenever it is possible. What a shame they haven't been given a performance in the leading roles... Aubane Philbert, in another cast, made a fine debut alongside Mallory Gaudion, but she's too green to be given heavy responsabilities I think. She was notably shaky in all the turns, and her back and neck are stiff (a frequent flaw at the POB, unfortunately), but her technique is already very good. Let her grow up and work in depth on her current shortcomings, and she could be a very good soloist, for what she can already pull out at 18 bids well for the future. Mallory Gaudion did well, but Matthias Heymann (also with Aubane Philbert) showed great promise that was confirmed by the internal competition a few days later. His ballon and footwork are extremely good. His acting is still on the muted side, but we'll hear of him soon.

The corps did very well, although divided between Coppélia (where it doesn't look as good...) and Giselle. The lines were sharp, and the second act looked wonderful at all performances. A minor flaw would be the part where the Wilis cross twice in arabesque, very slowly, and which was a bit too noisy. It looked jumped instead of just skimmed above the floor, but the view from the amphitheatre might be responsible for that... Other than that the level was very high at all performances, and I feel sorry the POB does not do more classical productions, since even with them being so far apart, the dancers manage to pull it off wonderfully - what would it be if the company took real care of its repertoire and provided the roles dancers like Myriam Ould-Braham or Marie-Agnès Gillot need on a regular basis ?

(would anyone maybe care to change the name of the thread to just POB Giselle ? It doesn't really fit anymore... :wink: )

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Thank you, Azulynn, for the suggestion -- I've changed the title.

And many thanks for your review of the performances of Giselle that you saw. I would love to see POB perform the classical and romantic repertoire, but for now, I will appreciate the descriptions and impressions of those who do.

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Your detailed reviews, Azulynn, are very helpful for those of us who were unable to attend the performances ourselves. I look forward to the DVD and hope that the editors will find a way to work around Pujol's muffed ballonnés. I hope that the success of the run will send a signal to POB management and encourage them to schedule more classics.

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Interesting comments about Dupont, Azulynn. I too saw her Giselle with Le Riche (their third performance together). I have to say that her Act I really worked for me. I liked that there was just a hint of the princess in her peasant -- why else would Albrecht single her out? :flowers:

Overall, I thought hers was an impressively constructed, finely detailed, fully articulated reading of the part. True, she "danced" the character (and how!) more than she "acted" it, so in a way her Giselle was less accessible, maybe even a bit cold. But I found it quite exhilarating when midway through Act I I figured out that I was supposed to really look at her dancing -- while really listening to the music -- to get her, like I would if I were watching an abstract ballet. Within this framework, her Act II made perfect sense. Whether or not this is how one should approach/view a work like Giselle, I don't really know. But it certainly made for an enlightening evening.

I saw Pujol as well (her first with Le Riche). No technical problems on the night that I can recall. Quite different qualities than Dupont's - more heightened verismo, emotionally more immediate...warmer. While Dupont seems to want you to derive the meaning (and emotion) purely from the dance, Pujol helps you along with more familiar (i.e., actorly) cues. Not that she overacted--well, maybe a bit too much mugging at times. A convincing performance nonetheless.

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I liked that there was just a hint of the princess in her peasant -- why else would Albrecht single her out? :flowers:

Yvette Chauviré said something similar in the film "A Portrait of Giselle." I'm sorry I can't reproduce the original French for you since it was dubbed into English, but Chauviré was translated as saying that Giselle ought to be "simple and noble, noble and simple, but she is a peasant. It could be that she has some noble blood in her veins. You know very well that the nobles always liked to dally with the peasant girls. That my be why Albrecht is drawn to her."

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Thanks for your comments, bee and volcanohunter - I hadn't thought about that. I can understand your delight, volcanohunter (Dupont's dancing never stops pleasing me whatever she does, she has the most wonderful arms along with a technique that leaves one in awe), and it seems she did better and better as the run progressed. My problem was that she didn't look noble when I saw her, she looked coquettish, very self-aware of her charm, which prevented her from looking "simple", but she is building her interpretation after all, and she was perhaps trying something there...

This is really a slight criticism, since, as I said, her dancing is unsurpassed right now at the POB - but emotion, warmth and the ability to draw in an entire audience at any time might well be what will make her one of the unforgettable Prima Ballerinas of our time.

I watched the Giselle broadcast with Pujol/Le Riche two days ago, and I'm sorry to say whoever is responsible for the filming hasn't done a very good job. Many small mistakes from the soloists have been kept, much to my amazement (Gillot's wobbles in the arabesques the beginning of the second act, while she did them perfectly fine at the performance I saw ; same thing for Laëtitia Pujol during the balances of the second act). And the filming is quite dreadful (shots either close-up or very far from the stage, as if taken from the amphitheatre, which flattens everything). Let's hope some serious editing will be done before the DVD release. It made me think again how outstanding Aurélie Dupont is dancing-wise right now among her colleagues... :flowers:

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True, she "danced" the character (and how!) more than she "acted" it, so in a way her Giselle was less accessible, maybe even a bit cold. But I found it quite exhilarating when midway through Act I I figured out that I was supposed to really look at her dancing -- while really listening to the music -- to get her, like I would if I were watching an abstract ballet. Within this framework, her Act II made perfect sense. Whether or not this is how one should approach/view a work like Giselle, I don't really know. But it certainly made for an enlightening evening.

What you wrote really makes me think, Bee, and I wanted to add something... I think you're spot on about Aurélie Dupont - one really needs to look at her dancing, first and foremost, because most often it says it all. It's all so musical, so well thought, that it makes sense.

Strangely enough, I find it very satisfying (and more than that) in some works, and not in others. Her Giselle Act II is amazing - in the same way, I love her performance on the Sleeping Beauty DVD, because the choreography is all there, crystal clear and wonderfully phrased. The steps themselves seem to say it all in these two ballets (Aurora's variations really define her character for me, and Aurélie Dupont gives them full meaning) - another example is Lifar's Mirages, where Dupont's variation moved me to tears in October. IMO Giselle Act I is different - the steps themselves don't seem to contain everything that can be expected from the dancer. Giselle doesn't actually dance much in that act - that's perhaps why Dupont doesn't work for me as well as she does elsewhere. Just my opinion, of course, but this is a very interesting topic.

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I ended up seeing Dupont and Legris on the 16th, Letestu and Martinez on the 17th and 25th, and Pujol and Le Riche on the 21st. (The original plan was to see Hurel and Ganio on the 17th but with all the injuries and resulting casting changes, I ended up missing them. Also, unfortunately I ran out of time and budget and was not able to see Osta and Pech.)

Letestu was the best Giselle among the three, and the only one who was able to convince and move me in the first act. She is one of the greatest Giselles I have ever seen. A restrained, understated, and therefore very touching "mad" scene, fluidity of movement, beautiful arms, and "sculpted" stances in the second act.

Definitely the only one with a "hint of the princess in her peasant." In the second act, both she and Dupont were very impressive. Pujol was my least favorite of the three, not only because of her technical problems in the first act (unfortunately, I attended the performance that was filmed), but mostly because in the second act she somewhat lacked the lightness and fluidity I have come to expect from the best Giselles.

All three men were fantastic, and each had an interesting and different interpretation for their character. It was a great treat to see yet another inspired performance from Manuel Legris and admire the fact that at 42, he still has flawless technique and a soaring, soft jump. Martinez's was the most sympathetic Albrecht while Le Riche's was the most detached. Le Riche was the only one of the three who did the seemingly endless series of entrechats in the second act a la Nureev, an instance where added technical brilliance was dramatically logical.

Overall, I enjoyed Letestu and Martinez the most because theirs was the most perfect partnership throughout the entire ballet (as on every previous occasion when I had watched them perform). Because they are such wonderful technicians, I think sometimes their great artistry and acting skills tend to be overlooked.

The corps were somewhat uneven. The crossing of the Wilis was slightly off the music, for my taste. Since it was exactly the same during all four performances, I conclude that it was not the dancers' fault, but rather this productions' "feature." In addition, this particular bit was just a little too rough and did not have the feeling that they swim accross each other---the feeling which always causes applause when the Mariinsky corps perform this scene. Many parts of the second act lacked the smoothness, fluidity, softness, and lightness that I would have liked to see and that the best Mariinsky performances always have. I already mentioned Pujol's interpretation above. The same goes for Myrthas in three out of four performances, including Gillot on the 21st and especially Abbagnato on the 16th. Stephanie Romberg on the 25th was Myrtha that I liked the best.

I was also disappointed in certain minor incongruences of the production (although these are not unique to this particular production). (1) It is an odd piece of timing for Giselle's mother to be removing Giselle's hairpins when she collapses in the first act. (2) The two peasants dance to thank Bathilde for Giselle's necklace, insead of Giselle herself. (3) In some of the performances, Giselle's mother is shorter and younger than Giselle. (4) German aristocrats from a few hundred years ago wear Asian-looking headdress. (5) Why have the dice players in the second act? (Incidentally, the lighting is such that from the family circle there is no way to tell what they are doing so to a large portion of the audience this scene is a complete mystery.) (6) First, the wilis appear and scare these players and Hilarion, and only afterwards Myrtha orders the wilis to rise from their graves.

Finally, I wholeheartedly join in the praise for Mathias Heymann given both in this thread and in the thread on the annual competition. He was in the peasant pdd as a coryphee on the 17th and as a sujet on the 25th, and is nothing short of spectacular. Minor unsteadiness in his partnering will be corrected soon, I'm sure. Hopefully he is a future etoile.

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You are the first to review Letestu and Martinez for Ballet Talk, Ilya; thank you! I'm sorry you missed Hurel and Ganio, but it sounds like you enjoyed a second Letestu/Martinez performance very much.

Was the filming for the DVD done entirely from one performance? In some of the more recent DVD and televised releases in the US, a second performance is filmed from which to splice in passages where technical difficulties were overcome or camera angles weren't optimal.

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Three performances were filmed with the same cast, including two performances in a row (20th and 21st), which might account for Pujol's tiredness and lack of flow on the 21st - it wasn't very wise since she's just come back from maternity leave and probably hasn't rebuilt all her stamina. It was obvious she wasn't at her best at that performance, which is a shame.

Obviously, the problems which occurred the 21st do not show on the video (but strangely enough, others were kept while they weren't there on the 21st, which makes me hope for some editing before the release).

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I didn't know about Pujol's maternity leave and didn't realize that she was scheduled for two days in a row. I clearly didn't see her at her best then. I'm glad to hear that the 21st wasn't the only performance that was filmed, and I'm looking forward to the DVD.

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