Warsaw Grand Theatre - Polish National Opera (Teatr Wielki) 22 February 2024 - Giselle | GoComGo.com

Giselle

Warsaw Grand Theatre - Polish National Opera (Teatr Wielki), Warsaw, Poland
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Thursday 22 February 2024

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Important Info
Type: Ballet
City: Warsaw, Poland
Starts at: 19:00
Overview

This season sees the return of the immortal Giselle, a ballet masterpiece brought to life by the most prominent artists of French romanticism. The idea was originated by poet Théophile Gautier, who drew inspiration from a legend wrote down by Heinrich Heine, the libretto was penned by dramaturge Jules-Henri Vernoy de Saint-Georges, the score by Adolphe-Charles Adam, and the original choreography was put together by balletmaster Jean Coralli with the help of dancer Jules Perrot. Together, their efforts produced a work considered the paragon of romantic ballet.

Just like La Sylphide (1832), Giselle (1841) was a product of the French romantics longing for an idealised, pristine female presence on the ballet stage, previously dominated by men. This vision set a standard for all the romantic ballets to come. Having women dance en pointe was meant to serve this very purpose. While some ballerinas had done it before, now the impressive dance technique was elevated to real art, making the revered, almost divine female figure the centre of attention. The first dancer to create the Sylph was the legendary Maria Taglioni, the first one to dance Giselle was her rival Carlotta Grisi, who became hugely successful in the role. When Giselle first enters the stage, she is as a careless girl in love with a seductive Loys. She does not suspect that he is Prince Albrecht disguised as a pheasant until he is exposed by the jealous Hilarion. The shock of the revelation costs Giselle her sanity and life. She returns as a vila, joining the spirits of other prematurely dead girls who had been wronged before marriage. Led by their queen Myrtha, the Wilis ambush young men in a forest cemetery, forcing them to dance until they die of exhaustion. One of their victims is Hilarion, Giselle’s rejected suitor. Yet, her love for Albrecht is still so strong that when he turns up repentant by her grave, she saves him from the other spirits’ revenge, dancing until the day breaks and the merciless Wilis lose their power. The moving role that combines pastoral charm, true drama, soulfulness, and ephemerality has been wonderfully rendered by the greatest ballerinas of all time.

The ballet has been shown in Warsaw many times, starting in 1848, when it was staged according to the Paris original by Roman Turczynowicz, now the patron of the local ballet school. The last two productions (1968 and 1976) were designed by the late Andrzej Kreutz Majewski, whose sets and costumes excellently conveyed the romantic atmosphere of the French masterpiece. When mounting its new production of Giselle, the Polish National Ballet decided to revive the great set designer’s stunning vision. Luckily, the artist left behind detailed set and costume blueprints. What is more, the opera house’s storage rooms turned out to contain elements of his original scenery. Based on the information, the opera house’s craftspeople recreated Kreutz Majewski’s designs after they had been meticulously adapted by Małgorzata Szabłowska (sets) and Katarzyna Rott (costumes). The production is, therefore, also a tribute to the internationally renowned Polish artist who served as the Teatr Wielki’s chief set designer between 1966 and 2005.
 
Giselle returns to the Warsaw stage in the canonical choreography by Marius Petipa as staged by Maina Gielgud, once a star of European ballet stages, then the head of  the Australian Ballet and Royal Danish Ballet. She is descendent from the ancient Polish–Lithuanian Gielgud family and a niece of Sir John Gielgud, the great English Shakespearian actor who also starred in the title role in Andrzej Wajda’s The Conductor. Maina Gielgud’s staging of Giselle, originally devised in 1986 for the Australian Ballet, earned huge recognition and was later shown in the US, France, and South Africa.

The prolific opera and ballet composer Adolphe Adam composed the music. Jean Coralli and Jules Perrot created the original choreography. The role of Giselle was intended for Carlotta Grisi as her debut piece for the Paris public, and she was the only ballerina to dance it at the Paris Opera for many years. The traditional choreography that has been passed down to the present day derives primarily from the revivals staged by Marius Petipa during the late 19th and early 20th centuries for the Imperial Ballet in St. Petersburg. One of the world's most-often performed classical ballets, it is also one of its most challenging to dance.

History
Premiere of this production: 28 June 1841, Salle Le Peletier, Paris, France

Giselle is a romantic ballet in two acts. It was first performed by the Ballet du Théâtre de l'Académie Royale de Musique at the Salle Le Peletier in Paris, France on 28 June 1841, with Italian ballerina Carlotta Grisi as Giselle. The ballet was an unqualified triumph. Giselle became hugely popular and was staged at once across Europe, Russia, and the United States. The traditional choreography that has been passed down to the present day derives primarily from the revivals staged by Marius Petipa during the late 19th and early 20th centuries for the Imperial Ballet in St. Petersburg.

 

Venue Info

Warsaw Grand Theatre - Polish National Opera (Teatr Wielki) - Warsaw
Location   plac Teatralny 1

The Grand Theatre in Warsaw is a theatre and opera complex situated on the historic Theatre Square in central Warsaw. The Warsaw Grand Theatre is home to the Polish National Ballet and is one of the largest theatrical venues in the world.

The Theatre was built on Theatre Square between 1825 and 1833, replacing the former building of Marywil, from Polish classicist designs by the Italian architect Antonio Corazzi of Livorno, to provide a new performance venue for existing opera, ballet and drama companies active in Warsaw. The building was remodeled several times and, in the period of Poland's political eclipse from 1795 to 1918, it performed an important cultural and political role in producing many works by Polish composers and choreographers.

It was in the new theatre that Stanisław Moniuszko's two best-known operas received their premieres: the complete version of Halka (1858), and The Haunted Manor (1865). After Frédéric Chopin, Moniuszko was the greatest figure in 19th-century Polish music, for in addition to producing his own works, he was director of the Warsaw Opera from 1858 until his death in 1872.

While director of the Grand Theatre, Moniuszko composed The Countess, Verbum Nobile, The Haunted Manor and Paria, and many songs that make up 12 Polish Songbooks.

Also, under Moniuszko's direction, the wooden Summer Theatre was built close by in the Saxon Garden. Summer performances were given annually, from the repertories of the Grand and Variety (Rozmaitości) theatres. Józef Szczublewski writes that during this time, even though the country had been partitioned out of political existence by its neighbors, the theatre flourished: "the ballet roused the admiration of foreign visitors; there was no equal troupe of comedians to be found between Warsaw and Paris, and Modrzejewska was an inspiration to drama."

The theatre presented operas by Władysław Żeleński, Ignacy Jan Paderewski, Karol Szymanowski and other Polish composers, as well as ballet productions designed by such choreographers as Roman Turczynowicz, Piotr Zajlich and Feliks Parnell. At the same time, the repertoire included major world opera and ballet classics, performed by the most prominent Polish and foreign singers and dancers. It was also here that the Italian choreographer Virgilius Calori produced Pan Twardowski (1874), which (in the musical arrangement first of Adolf Sonnenfeld and then of Ludomir Różycki) has for years been part of the ballet company's repertoire.

During the 1939 battle of Warsaw, the Grand Theatre was bombed and almost completely destroyed, with only the classical façade surviving. During the Warsaw Uprising of 1944 the Germans shot civilians in the burnt-out ruins. The plaque to the right of the main entrance commemorates the suffering and heroism of the victims of fascism.

Important Info
Type: Ballet
City: Warsaw, Poland
Starts at: 19:00
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