Giselle Proves The Ultimate Romantic Ballet

Giselle, Royal Opera House ★★★★☆

By Sam Smith Last edited 65 months ago

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Giselle Proves The Ultimate Romantic Ballet Giselle, Royal Opera House 4
Marianela Nuñez as Giselle. ©ROH 2018. Photographed by Helen Maybanks

Adolphe Adam’s Giselle of 1841 tells the story of a peasant girl who falls in love with Albrecht, a Count who has wooed her while disguised as a villager. When she discovers who he really is and that their love can never be, she stabs herself, but that is only the first half of the story.

Peter Wright’s version for the Royal Ballet captures the very essence of this Romantic Ballet. Unlike Classical Ballet where the dancers’ bearing tends to be proud and regal, the ballerinas’ movements need to be soft and otherworldly. Casts vary, but opening night’s Giselle, Marianela Núñez, is exceptional at capturing her sweet nature and fragility. While displaying immaculate technique, the way in which she moves from displaying child-like excitement to heart-wrenching madness in minutes is utterly convincing. Federico Bonelli is an Albrecht for whom we actually feel something, Bennet Gartside makes much of the part of the forester Hilarion and Alexander Campbell stands out from among the pas de six.

Marianela Nuñez as Giselle and Federico Bonelli as Albrecht. ©ROH 2018. Photographed by Helen Maybanks

Act Two introduces the Wilis. Headed by their Queen Myrtha (Tierney Heap), these are the ghosts of women who died after being jilted, and who seek vengeance from beyond the grave. Dancing the roles to an extremely high standard, the female corps de ballet make the spirits feel a particularly chilling and formidable bunch.

Giselle, Royal Opera House, Bow Street, Covent Garden, WC2E. £5-125. 19 January - 9 March 2018.

Last Updated 23 January 2018