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National Ballet of Cuba - Giselle - Salle Pleyel, Paris - July 2017

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I popped over to Paris for the final 2 performances of BNC's run of Giselle at the Salle Pleyel.  Coincidentally the last time I had seen their Giselle was also in Paris but in a "pop up" theatre in the Grand Palais.


Salle Pleyel has an art deco foyer and a plain, dark interior.  It had been a concert hall home to an orchestra which lost its funding and now presents all different types of show.  It struck me that the nightlines would be good wherever you sat.  I was on the front row of the stalls, which offered a perfect view, except that the wings were obviously so shallow that one could see more than would be usual even from the central block of seats.  Nevertheless it was a great place from which to watch the performance!


Sadly the company were performing to recorded music and I have to say that even to my uncultured ears it was not a good recording.  Occasionally, for example, there seemed to be some overly long gaps in the music.


I very much like Alicia Alonso's production of Giselle - it is so very clearly told with excellent mime too.  In this production it is very clear that Giselle dies of a broken heart rather than committing suicide with the sword (it is grabbed off her before she can do any harm),  The Wilis are very scary.  I did, however, find the lighting too bright and harsh, especially in Act 2.  I like the way the backcloth of trees is used to hide and reveal the Wilis at the start of Act 2 - it does make them much more mysterious and ghost like.


On Tuesday evening Sadaise Arencibia and Raul Abreu led the performance.  Sadaise is a lovely Giselle, playful in act 1 and forgiving and loving in Act 2.  Raul played Albrecht as someone who genuinely adores Giselle right from the start and is very romantic and ardent.  Reading the programme I was shocked to realise that he can't be more than 19 or 20 - he gave such a mature performance.  I think he has a great future ahead of him.  I thought Ernesto Diaz was excellent as Hilarion - lovelorn and jealous and then horrified by Giselle's death.


If I thought I enjoyed Tuesday evening (and I did) I was transported to another plain on Wednesday evening when Anette Delgado and Dani Hernandez led the performance.  Dani plays Albrecht as a man who knows his position but is attracted to Giselle and then is broken when he realises what devastation he has caused.  What can I say about Anette - she was completely, utterly and totally magnificent.  Her technique is so strong and yet she is still so fragile and vulnerable.  In reality I was not watching Anette Delgado I was watching Giselle.  I was in floods by the end.


At the curtain calls Alicia Alonso came on stage and was greeted with rapturous acclaim.  What an amazing and gracious lady she is.


Of course, 2 people do not a performance make and I must say that I thought the whole company looked excellent.  Everyone was engaged in the action in Act 1, making it very believable.  The Wilis were exemplary in Act 2.


I was very glad I had made the trip to Paris (even though with the current parlous state of sterling it was ruinously expensive!).

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