Most recent performance
There are currently no scheduled performances of Giselle. It was last on stage 26 February—15 April 2016 as part of the Winter 2015/16 season.
Giselle, a peasant girl, has fallen in love with Count Albrecht, who has told her he is a villager named Loys. Her discovery of his true identity has devastating consequences.
Read more… (Contains spoilers)
Giselle is the quintessential Romantic ballet. It transformed the dance world when it was first performed in Paris in 1841 and remains at the centre of the classical repertory. Although the choreography and designs have undergone many changes over the years, the essence of Giselle remains the same. Peter Wright’s production for The Royal Ballet is based on Marius Petipa’s classic version (after original choreography by Jules Perrot and Jean Coralli), which was first staged in St Petersburg in 1884.
The role of Giselle provides a dancer with many technical and dramatic challenges, from the character’s early love to her poignant descent into madness and her final gesture of forgiveness from beyond the grave. The first act of the ballet is filled with historical detail and rustic colour. By contrast, the second act (known as the White Act) plunges the audience into an eerie moonlit forest haunted by the ethereal Wilis – vengeful spirits of young brides who died before their wedding day. With its combination of memorable story and exquisite choreography, Giselle is the perfect way to discover classical ballet.
News and features
14 October 2016
Dramatic and romantic moments in ballets including Swan Lake and Romeo and Juliet are classical dance’s beating heart.
11 April 2016
Akane Takada replaces Laura Morera as Giselle; Itziar Mendizabal and Christina Arestis replace Laura Morera as Paulina.
6 April 2016
What did you think of the live cinema relay of this classic Romantic ballet?
6 April 2016
Another chance to watch backstage films screened as part of the live cinema relay.
1 April 2016
Peter Wright’s hauntingly beautiful ballet stars Marianela Nuñez and Vadim Muntagirov.
24 March 2016
Akane Takada to replace Laura Morera in the title role.
Giselle (French: Giselle, ou les Wilis) 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 Monday, 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. The ballet is about a peasant girl named Giselle, who dies of a broken heart after discovering her lover is betrothed to another. The Wilis, a group of supernatural women who dance men to death, summon Giselle from her grave. They target her lover for death, but Giselle's great love frees him from their grasp. Librettists Jules-Henri Vernoy de Saint-Georges and Théophile Gautier took their inspiration for the plot from a prose passage about the Wilis in De l'Allemagne by Heinrich Heine, and from a poem called "Fantômes" in Les Orientales by Victor Hugo. The prolific opera and ballet composer Adolphe Adam composed the music. Jean Coralli and Jules Perrot created the choreography. The role of Giselle was intended for Carlotta Grisi as her debut piece for the Paris public. She became the first to dance the role and was the only ballerina to dance it at the Opéra for many years.