The RNZB revived their production of the classic ballet Giselle and what an experience!
The story of the Wilis, a group of women who had been wronged in life by being betrayed by their lovers and would take revenge in death by forcing men at night to dance to death. The myth was once very popular; it had been adapted into both this classic ballet and in to an opera by Puccini.
In this story, Giselle is a peasant girl who falls in love with a disguised nobleman Albrecht, who is already betrothed to a noble woman. Hilarion, another peasant, also loves Giselle and is suspicious of this purported peasant. Hilarion exposes Albrecht for what he is, which leads Giselle to dance wildly and die from it. Giselle is revived as a Wilis. Hilarion goes to mourn her and the Wilis attack, making him dance until he dies, they also go for Albrecht, but he is defended by Giselle, who still loves him. Albrecht is then condemned to spend the rest of his life knowing he will never be with Giselle and the guilt of his decisions.
In many productions Hilarion is not seen in a particularly sympathetic way, but what I really liked in this production was that Paul Matthews who played him, played him very sympathetically, there was a vulnerability to his performance that was really well done, his death was genuinely sad, knowing that he was the good guy in all this, and yet he died for it. Mayu Tanigaito was a phenomenal Giselle, when she finds out who Albrecht really is she is devastating in her despair and loss, truly brilliant dancer.
The corps de ballet were fantastic, Ethan Stiefel’s and Johan Kobborg’s choreography exquisitely told the story. The sets and costumes were classic, detailed, and beautiful, especially the hunting party. Auckland Philharmonia Orchestra were as talented as ever and translated the score wonderfully, a beautiful piece and well worth watching if you can.
The RNZB will be following Giselle with The Firebird from the 29th July.