Opera National de Paris 29 May 2024 - Giselle | GoComGo.com

Giselle

Opera National de Paris, Paris, France
All photos (12)
Wednesday 29 May 2024
7:30 PM

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Important Info
Type: Ballet
City: Paris, France
Starts at: 19:30

E-tickets: Print at home or at the box office of the event if so specified. You will find more information in your booking confirmation email.

You can only select the category, and not the exact seats.
If you order 2 or 3 tickets: your seats will be next to each other.
If you order 4 or more tickets: your seats will be next to each other, or, if this is not possible, we will provide a combination of groups of seats (at least in pairs, for example 2+2 or 2+3).

Overview

Diaphanous tutus, pointe shoes, white gauze, tulle: Giselle marks the pinnacle of romanticism. In a bucolic landscape, a young girl dies of love and is transformed into a spirit that haunts the forest.

Taken in by the Wilis, she enters an ethereal world where dance is the language of the soul. Her lover Albrecht, distraught, pursues this ghost at the risk of his life. The ballerinas, with their aerial presence, defy him just as they do gravity. The mist-shrouded set reveals spectral visions enhanced by Adolphe Adam’s bewitching score. Premiered at the Royal Academy of Music on 28 June 1841, the ballet traveled to Russia and disappeared from the repertoire before its return to France in 1910. Today, in Patrice Bart and Eugène Polyakov’s version, faithful to the original choreography by Jean Coralli and Jules Perrot, the ballet continues to offer us its magic.

Jean Coralli and Jules Perrot choreographed the original version of Giselle.

Perrot and Carlotta Grisi were lovers and, consequently, Perrot designed all of her dances and pantomime. Everyone in the Paris dance world knew that Perrot had created Grisi's dances and Coralli admitted it, but Perrot was given no official credit in the printed materials such as posters and programs. This was most likely done to prevent Perrot from collecting royalties on the ballet. Perrot liked bold touches and planned several rapid aerial swoops on wires in Act II for Giselle. Grisi was afraid of these swoops, therefore a stage hand was brought in to test them. He crashed face-first into the scenery and the swoops were dropped.

The balletomanes of Paris became very excited as the opening night of Giselle approached. News reports kept their interest alive. Some reports said that Grisi has had an accident whilst other reports indicated that the conductor was ill with a tumor. Still others said that the stage hands feared for their safety.

Hopes that the ballet would be ready in May were dashed and the opening night was postponed several times. Grisi was absent for a few days and her return was delayed to protect her health. Lighting, trapdoors, and scene changes needed further rehearsals. Cuts were made in Grisi's role to spare the dancer's health. Instead of returning to her tomb at the end of the ballet, it was decided that she would be placed on a bed of flowers and sink slowly into the earth. This touch preserved the romantic mood of the Act II finale.

At last, on Monday, 28 June 1841 the curtain rose on Giselle at the Salle Le Peletier. Grisi danced Giselle with Lucien Petipa as her lover Albrecht, Jean Coralli as the gamekeeper Hilarion, and Adèle Dumilâtre as Myrtha, the Queen of the Wilis. Typical of the theatrical practices of the time, Giselle was preceded by an excerpt from another production—in this case, the third act of Rossini's opera, Mosè in Egitto. In 1844 Marie Guy-Stéphan made his first appearance in a role for the first production of Giselle, who performed in numerous works by Pepita.

In spite of the chief machinist shouting orders to his crew that could be heard by the audience, Giselle was a great success. Grisi was a sensation. Ballet-goers regarded her as another Marie Taglioni, the greatest ballerina of the period.

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.

 

Synopsis

Act I

The ballet opens on a sunny autumnal morning in the Rhineland during the Middle Ages. The grape harvest is in progress. Duke Albrecht of Silesia, a young nobleman, has fallen in love with a shy, beautiful peasant girl, Giselle, despite being betrothed to Bathilde, the daughter of the Duke of Courland. Albrecht disguises himself as a humble villager called "Loys" in order to court the enchanting and innocent Giselle, who knows nothing of his true identity. With the help of his squire, Albrecht hides his fine attire, hunting horn, and sword before coaxing Giselle out of her house to romance her as the harvest festivities begin.

Hilarion, a local gamekeeper, is also in love with Giselle and is highly suspicious of the newcomer who has won Giselle's affections. He tries to convince the naive Giselle that her beau cannot be trusted, but she ignores his warnings. Giselle's mother, Berthe, is very protective of her daughter, as Giselle has a weak heart that leaves her in delicate health. She discourages a relationship between Giselle and Loys, thinking Hilarion would be a better match, and disapproves of Giselle's fondness for dancing, due to the strain on her heart.

A party of noblemen seeking refreshment following the rigors of the hunt arrive in the village, Albrecht's betrothed, Bathilde, among them. Albrecht hurries away, knowing he would be recognized and greeted by Bathilde, exposing him as a nobleman. The villagers welcome the party, offer them drinks, and perform several dances. Bathilde is charmed with Giselle's sweet and demure nature, not knowing of her relationship with Albrecht. Giselle is honored when the beautiful and regal stranger offers her a necklace as a gift before the group of nobles depart.

The villagers continue the harvest festivities, and Albrecht emerges again to dance with Giselle, who is named the Harvest Queen. Hilarion interrupts the festivities. He has discovered Albrecht's finely made sword and presents it as proof that the lovesick peasant boy is really a nobleman who is promised to another woman. Using Albrecht's hunting horn, Hilarion calls back the party of noblemen. Albrecht has no time to hide and has no choice but to greet Bathilde as his betrothed. All are shocked by the revelation, but none more than Giselle, who becomes inconsolable when faced with her lover's deception. Knowing that they can never be together, Giselle flies into a mad fit of grief in which all the tender moments she shared with "Loys" flash before her eyes. She begins to dance wildly and erratically, ultimately causing her weak heart to give out. She collapses before dying in Albrecht's arms. Hilarion and Albrecht turn on each other in rage before Albrecht flees the scene in misery. The curtain closes as Berthe weeps over her daughter's body.

In the original version, taken up again recently by a production of the ROB, Giselle stabs herself with Albrecht's sword, which explains why her body is laid to rest in the forest, in unhallowed ground, where the wilis have the power to summon her. Most modern versions are sanitized and have edited out the suicide.

Act II

Late at night, Hilarion mourns at Giselle's forest grave, but is frightened away by the arrival of the Wilis, the ghostly spirits of maidens betrayed by their lovers. Many Wili were abandoned on their wedding days, and all died of broken hearts. The Wilis, led by their merciless queen Myrtha, dance and haunt the forest at night to exact their revenge on any man they encounter, regardless of who he may be, forcing their victims to dance until they die of exhaustion.

Myrtha and the Wilis rouse Giselle's spirit from her grave and induct her into their clan before disappearing into the forest. Albrecht arrives to lay flowers on Giselle's grave and he weeps with guilt over her death. Giselle's spirit appears and Albrecht begs her forgiveness. Giselle, her love undiminished unlike her vengeful sisters, gently forgives him. She disappears to join the rest of the Wilis and Albrecht desperately follows her.

Meanwhile, the Wilis have cornered a terrified Hilarion. They use their magic to force him to dance until he is nearly dead, and then drown him in a nearby lake. Then they spy Albrecht, and turn on him, sentencing him to death as well. He pleads to Myrtha for his life, but she coldly refuses. Giselle's pleas are also dismissed and Albrecht is forced to dance until sunrise. However, the power of Giselle's love counters the Wilis' magic and spares his life. The other spirits return to their graves at daybreak, but Giselle has broken through the chains of hatred and vengeance that control the Wilis, and is thus released from their powers and will haunt the forest no longer. After bidding a tender farewell to Albrecht, Giselle returns to her grave to rest in peace.

Act I

The ballet opens on a sunny autumnal morning in the Rhineland during the Middle Ages. The grape harvest is in progress. Duke Albrecht of Silesia, a young nobleman, has fallen in love with a shy, beautiful peasant girl, Giselle, despite being betrothed to Bathilde, the daughter of the Duke of Courland. Albrecht disguises himself as a humble villager called "Loys" in order to court the enchanting and innocent Giselle, who knows nothing of his true identity. With the help of his squire, Albrecht hides his fine attire, hunting horn, and sword before coaxing Giselle out of her house to romance her as the harvest festivities begin.

Hilarion, a local gamekeeper, is also in love with Giselle and is highly suspicious of the newcomer who has won Giselle's affections. He tries to convince the naive Giselle that her beau cannot be trusted, but she ignores his warnings. Giselle's mother, Berthe, is very protective of her daughter, as Giselle has a weak heart that leaves her in delicate health. She discourages a relationship between Giselle and Loys, thinking Hilarion would be a better match, and disapproves of Giselle's fondness for dancing, due to the strain on her heart.

A party of noblemen seeking refreshment following the rigors of the hunt arrive in the village, Albrecht's betrothed, Bathilde, among them. Albrecht hurries away, knowing he would be recognized and greeted by Bathilde, exposing him as a nobleman. The villagers welcome the party, offer them drinks, and perform several dances. Bathilde is charmed with Giselle's sweet and demure nature, not knowing of her relationship with Albrecht. Giselle is honored when the beautiful and regal stranger offers her a necklace as a gift before the group of nobles depart.

The villagers continue the harvest festivities, and Albrecht emerges again to dance with Giselle, who is named the Harvest Queen. Hilarion interrupts the festivities. He has discovered Albrecht's finely made sword and presents it as proof that the lovesick peasant boy is really a nobleman who is promised to another woman. Using Albrecht's hunting horn, Hilarion calls back the party of noblemen. Albrecht has no time to hide and has no choice but to greet Bathilde as his betrothed. All are shocked by the revelation, but none more than Giselle, who becomes inconsolable when faced with her lover's deception. Knowing that they can never be together, Giselle flies into a mad fit of grief in which all the tender moments she shared with "Loys" flash before her eyes. She begins to dance wildly and erratically, ultimately causing her weak heart to give out. She collapses before dying in Albrecht's arms. Hilarion and Albrecht turn on each other in rage before Albrecht flees the scene in misery. The curtain closes as Berthe weeps over her daughter's body.

In the original version, taken up again recently by a production of the ROB, Giselle stabs herself with Albrecht's sword, which explains why her body is laid to rest in the forest, in unhallowed ground, where the Wilis have the power to summon her. Most modern versions are sanitized and have edited out the suicide.

Act II

Late at night, Hilarion mourns at Giselle's forest grave, but is frightened away by the arrival of the Wilis, the ghostly spirits of maidens betrayed by their lovers. Many Wili were abandoned on their wedding days, and all died of broken hearts. The Wilis, led by their merciless queen Myrtha, dance and haunt the forest at night to exact their revenge on any man they encounter, regardless of who he may be, forcing their victims to dance until they die of exhaustion.

Myrtha and the Wilis rouse Giselle's spirit from her grave and induct her into their clan before disappearing into the forest. Albrecht arrives to lay flowers on Giselle's grave and he weeps with guilt over her death. Giselle's spirit appears and Albrecht begs her forgiveness. Giselle, her love undiminished unlike her vengeful sisters, gently forgives him. She disappears to join the rest of the Wilis and Albrecht desperately follows her.

Meanwhile, the Wilis have cornered a terrified Hilarion. They use their magic to force him to dance until he is nearly dead, and then drown him in a nearby lake. Then they spy Albrecht, and turn on him, sentencing him to death as well. He pleads to Myrtha for his life, but she coldly refuses. Giselle's pleas are also dismissed and Albrecht is forced to dance until sunrise. However, the power of Giselle's love counters the Wilis' magic and spares his life. The other spirits return to their graves at daybreak, but Giselle has broken through the chains of hatred and vengeance that control the Wilis, and is thus released from their powers and will haunt the forest no longer. After bidding a tender farewell to Albrecht, Giselle returns to her grave to rest in peace.

Venue Info

Opera National de Paris - Paris
Location   Palais Garnier: Place de l’Opéra, 75009 Paris; Opéra Bastille: Place de la Bastille, 75012 Paris

The Paris Opera is the primary opera and ballet company of France. It was founded in 1669 by Louis XIV as the Académie d'Opéra, and shortly thereafter was placed under the leadership of Jean-Baptiste Lully and officially renamed the Académie Royale de Musique, but continued to be known more simply as the Opéra. Classical ballet as it is known today arose within the Paris Opera as the Paris Opera Ballet and has remained an integral and important part of the company. Currently called the Opéra National de Paris, it mainly produces operas at its modern 2700-seat theatre Opéra Bastille which opened in 1989, and ballets and some classical operas at the older 1970-seat Palais Garnier which opened in 1875. Small scale and contemporary works are also staged in the 500-seat Amphitheatre under the Opéra Bastille.

The company's annual budget is in the order of 200 million euros, of which 100 million come from the French state and 70 million from box office receipts. With this money, the company runs the two houses and supports a large permanent staff, which includes the orchestra of 170, a chorus of 110 and the corps de ballet of 150.

Each year, the Opéra presents about 380 performances of opera, ballet and other concerts, to a total audience of about 800,000 people (of whom 17% come from abroad), which is a very good average seat occupancy rate of 94%. In the 2012/13 season, the Opéra presented 18 opera titles (two in a double bill), 13 ballets, 5 symphonic concerts and two vocal recitals, plus 15 other programmes. The company's training bodies are also active, with 7 concerts from the Atelier Lyrique and 4 programmes from the École de Danse.

The Opera under Louis XIV
Pierre Perrin

The poet Pierre Perrin began thinking and writing about the possibility of French opera in 1655, more than a decade before the official founding of the Paris Opera as an institution. He believed that the prevailing opinion of the time that the French language was fundamentally unmusical was completely incorrect. Seventeenth-century France offered Perrin essentially two types of organization for realizing his vision: a royal academy or a public theater. In 1666 he proposed to the minister Colbert that "the king decree 'the establishment of an Academy of Poetry and Music' whose goal would be to synthesize the French language and French music into an entirely new lyric form."

Even though Perrin's original concept was of an academy devoted to discussions of French opera, the king's intention was in fact a unique hybrid of royal academy and public theatre, with an emphasis on the latter as an institution for performance. On 28 June 1669, Louis XIV signed the Privilège accordé au Sieur Perrin pour l'établissement d'une Académie d'Opéra en musique, & Vers François (Privilege granted to Sir Perrin for the establishment of an Academy of Opera in music, & French Verse). The wording of the privilège, based in part on Perrin's own writings, gave him the exclusive right for 12 years to found anywhere in France academies of opera dedicated to the performance of opera in French. He was free to select business partners of his choice and to set the price of tickets. No one was to have the right of free entry including members of the royal court, and no one else could set up a similar institution. Although it was to be a public theatre, it retained its status as royal academy in which the authority of the king as the primary stakeholder was decisive. The monopoly, originally intended to protect the enterprise from competition during its formative phase, was renewed for subsequent recipients of the privilege up to the early French Revolution. As Victoria Johnson points out, "the Opera was an organization by nature so luxurious and expensive in its productions that its very survival depended on financial protection and privilege."

Perrin converted the Bouteille tennis court, located on the Rue des Fossés de Nesles (now 42 Rue Mazarine), into a rectangular facility with provisions for stage machinery and scenery changes and a capacity of about 1200 spectators. His first opera Pomone with music by Robert Cambert opened on 3 March 1671 and ran for 146 performances. A second work, Les peines et les plaisirs de l'amour, with a libretto by Gabriel Gilbert and music by Cambert, was performed in 1672.

Jean-Baptiste Lully

Despite this early success, Cambert and two other associates did not hesitate to swindle Perrin, who was imprisoned for debt and forced to concede his privilege on 13 March 1672 to the surintendant of the king's music Jean-Baptiste Lully. The institution was renamed the Académie Royale de Musique and came to be known in France simply as the Opéra. Within one month Lully had convinced the king to expand the privilege by restricting the French and Italian comedians to using two singers rather than six, and six instrumentalists, rather than twelve. Because of legal difficulties Lully could not use the Salle de la Bouteille, and a new theatre was built by Carlo Vigarani at the Bel-Air tennis court on the Rue de Vaugirard.[9] Later, Lully and his successors bitterly negotiated the concession of the privilege, in whole or in part, from the entrepreneurs in the provinces: in 1684 Pierre Gautier bought the authorisation to open a music academy in Marseille, then the towns of Lyon, Rouen, Lille and Bordeaux followed suit in the following years. During Lully's tenure, the only works performed were his own. The first productions were the pastorale Les fêtes de l'Amour et de Bacchus (November 1672) and his first tragedie lyrique called Cadmus et Hermione (27 April 1673).

After Molière's death in 1673, his troupe merged with the players at the Théâtre du Marais to form the Théâtre Guénégaud (at the same theatre that had been used by the Académie d'Opéra), and no longer needed the theatre built by Richelieu at his residence the Palais-Royal, near the Louvre. (In 1680 the troupe at the Guénégaud merged again with the players from the Hôtel de Bourgogne forming the Comédie-Française.) Richelieu's theatre had been designed by Jacques Le Mercier and had opened in 1641, and unlike the huge theatre at the Tuileries Palace, which could accommodate 6,000 to 8,000 spectators, was of a size consistent with good acoustics. Lully greatly desired a better theatre and persuaded the king to let him use the one at the Palais-Royal free of charge. The Théâtre du Palais-Royal had been altered in 1660 and 1671, but Lully, with 3,000 livres received from the king, had further changes made by Vigarani in 1674.

The first production in the new theatre was Alceste on 19 January 1674. The opera was bitterly attacked by those enraged at the restrictions that Lully had caused to be placed on the French and Italian comedians. To mitigate the damage, Louis XIV arranged for new works to be premiered at the court, usually at the Chateau Vieux of the Château de Saint-Germain-en-Laye. This had the further advantage of subsidizing the cost of rehearsals, as well as most of the machinery, sets, and costumes, which were donated to the Opéra for use in Paris. During Lully's time at the Opéra, performances were given all year, except for three weeks at Easter. Regular performances were on Tuesdays, Fridays, and Sundays. The premieres presented at court were usually during Carnival and were moved to the Palais-Royal after Easter, where the openings were on Thursdays. About two to three new works were mounted each year. In all, thirteen of Lully's tragédie en musique were performed there (see the list of compositions by Jean-Baptiste Lully).

After Lully

After Lully died (in 1687), the number of new works per year almost doubled, since his successors (Pascal Collasse, Henri Desmarets, André Campra, André Cardinal Destouches, and Marin Marais) had greater difficulty sustaining the interest of the public. Revivals of Lully's works were common. French composers at the Opéra generally wrote music to new librettos, which had to be approved by the directors of the company. The Italian practice of preparing new settings of existing librettos was considered controversial and did not become the norm in Paris until around 1760. One of the most important of the new works during this period was an opéra-ballet by Campra called L'Europe galante presented in 1697.

Ballet
In 1661 Louis XIV, who was a dancer himself and one of the great architects of baroque ballet (the art form which would one day evolve into classical ballet), established the Académie Royale de Danse, intended to codify court and character dances and to certify dance teachers by examination. From 1680 until Lully's death, it was under the direction of the great dancing master Pierre Beauchamp, the man who codified the five positions of the feet. When Lully took over the Opéra in 1672, he and Beauchamp made theatrical ballet an important part of the company's productions. The ballet of that time was merely an extension of the opera, having yet to evolve into an independent form of theatrical art. As it became more important, however, the dance component of the company began to be referred to as the Paris Opera Ballet. In 1713 an associated ballet school was opened, today known as the Paris Opera Ballet School. The Académie Royale de Danse remained separate, and with the fall of the monarchy in 1789 it disappeared.

The company's names after the Revolution

With the French Revolution and the founding of the Republic, the company changed names several times, dropping its association with the royal family (see the List of official company names for details), and in 1794, moved into the Théâtre National de la rue de la Loi (capacity 2800) where it took the name Théâtre des Arts. In 1797, it was renamed the Théâtre de la République et des Arts.

Napoleon took control of the company in 1802 and with the declaration of the French Empire in 1804, renamed the company the Académie Impériale de Musique. With the Restoration in 1814, the company was renamed the Académie Royale de Musique. It became part of the Académie des Beaux-Arts in 1816. In 1821, the company moved to the Salle Le Peletier, which had a capacity of 1900 spectators and where it remained until the building was destroyed by fire in 1873.

In the second half of the 19th century, with the ascension of Napoleon III in 1851, the name Académie Impériale de Musique was reinstated and after 1870 with the formation of the Third Republic, was changed to Théâtre National de l'Opéra.

In 1875, the institution occupied a new home, the Palais Garnier. Between 1908 and 1914 Henri Benjamin Rabaud conducted at Palais Garnier. Rabaud also composed several works which first premiered at Opéra-Comique, but were later also performed at Palais Garnier.

In 1939, the Opéra was merged with the Opéra-Comique and the company name became Réunion des Théâtres Lyriques Nationaux. The Opéra-Comique was closed in 1972 with the appointment of Rolf Liebermann as general administrator of the Théâtre National de l'Opéra de Paris (1973–1980), but in 1976, the Opéra-Comique was restored.

In 1990 the Opéra moved its primary venue to the new Opéra-Bastille, becoming the Opéra de Paris, although it continued to mount productions, primarily ballet, at the Palais Garnier; and the Opéra-Comique regained its autonomy. In 1994 the Opéra de Paris became the Opéra National de Paris. Regardless of all the changes in its "official" name, the company and its theatres were commonly referred to as the Opéra.

Important Info
Type: Ballet
City: Paris, France
Starts at: 19:30
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