The quintessential Romantic ballet, Giselle has remained a cornerstone of the classical repertory since its premiere in 1841. Peter Wright’s landmark production for The Royal Ballet does full justice to the work’s emotional and atmospheric power, with John Macfarlane’s designs beautifully capturing the contrast between the human and supernatural worlds. Giselle is one of the most challenging and demanding roles in the repertory and has always been a showcase for exceptional ballerinas. With Marianela Nuñez’s ‘absolute mastery’ of the choreography, she and her Albrecht, Vadim Muntagirov, are ‘technically thrilling’ (Guardian).
Music: Adolphe Adam
Giselle: Marianela Nuñez
Count Albrecht: Vadim Muntagirov
Hilarion: Bennet Gartside
Wilfred: Johannes Stepanek
Berthe: Elizabeth McGorian
The Duke of Courland: Gary Avis
Bathilde: Christina Arestis
Myrtha: Itziar Mendizabal
Moyna: Olivia Cowley
Zulme: Beatriz Stix-Brunell
Orchestra of The Royal Opera House
Conductor: Barry Wordsworth
Choreography: Marius Petipa
Production: Peter Wright
Designs: John Macfarlane
Plus: Introduction to Giselle with Peter Wright and the artists / Exploring Mime and Working Together.
Sound: DTS-HD 5.1 Master Audio, Dolby Atmos
Region code: All Regions
Running Time: 115 mins
UK / Europe Delivery
Shipping costs are calculated at checkout based on the weight of your total order. Standard Royal Mail charges are applied for the service you select. Standard Mail for the UK and Europe starts at £2.95 for a standard DVD or a CD.
We will make every effort to dispatch goods within two working days, and usually this means you will receive your goods within seven working days of receipt of making your order, provided the goods are in stock. If an item is out of stock we will notify you via email.
Please Note: Special Delivery orders must be placed before 3pm Monday to Friday. Unfortunately we cannot process Special Delivery requests on Saturday or Sundays.
Shipping costs are calculated at checkout based on the weight of your total order. Standard Royal Mail charges are applied for the service you select. Standard International Mail starts at £ 4.50 for a standard DVD or a CD.
We will make every effort to dispatch goods within two working days, and usually this means you will receive your goods within 7 to 14 working days of receipt making of your order, provided the goods are in stock. If an item is out of stock we will notify you via email.
There may be local duty and/or taxes payable on goods delivered outside the European Union.
I have seen the dvd several times and can't get enough off it. It is the best one I have ever seen. Thanks
Royal Ballet you have done it AGAIN!
This performance of Giselle is the best version I have ever seen. The spectacular virtuosity of Vadim Muntagirov is breathtaking and Marianela Nunez is on fire – but for me – it isn’t just Marianela's amazing bravura dancing – it is the ‘stillness’, intimacy, and tension that Marianela brings in the ‘ballet blanc’ reverie when the Queen of the Willis tries to dominate Giselle – first beckoning Giselle towards her - and then commanding Giselle to ‘stay’ like a dog; and then later as Giselle ‘floats’ above the prince’s head like an ethereal spirit. Just wonderful.
What is interesting is the ‘mirroring’ structure of the ballet, for here we have ‘real-world’ events both ‘foretelling what will unfold’ as well as being in juxtaposition with the ethereal world that we later encounter.
The ballet has so much to say about ‘the human condition’ so it is little wonder that Giselle is ranked as ‘number two’ in the word (Swan Lake being number one).
Giselle deeply penetrates the psyche because in it we see the dark side of human nature - acts of villainy; treachery; torment; jealousy; and callous indifference – as we meet the tortured and tormented heroin Giselle (Teutonic for ‘hostage’);
her cloying mother who does not want Giselle to find love so that Giselle will stay and look after her mother until her mother passes away;
the vile jealous game-keeper Hillarion – who reeks of fish and dead birds and lusts after Giselle and uses every ploy to capture her – with terrible consequences as in a fit of jealous rage he sets off a chain of events that leads to Giselle’s untimely death;
the love-struck prince who is ‘hoisted on his own petard’ by playing a foolish prank that causes him to be besotted by Giselle and instantly fall deeply, madly in love with her;
Giselle’s callous friends who desert her in her hour of need as Giselle shows everyone the sword – and rather than show ‘compassion’ and intervene, coldly turn away from Giselle;
and the cold heartless Princess Bathilde – to whom the prince has foolishly betrothed himself - who walks away with callous indifference as Giselle lays dying.
And if that is not enough, in act two we meet a vile cruel queen that is Myrtha – the ruthless, remorseless, unforgiving Queen of the Willis who seems to have everyone under her power as she encourages the dead souls of the Willis to commit self-harm so as to forever keep them remaining in limbo so that she may reek her torment upon men.
As we see the fabulous scene where the Willis ‘split’ – some going to the ‘light’ ‘dexter’ side – the rest choosing the ‘dark’ ‘sinister’ side as ‘doubt’ is cast, we ask:
Will Giselle have the courage and fortitude to stand up to and overcome the power of Myrtha – the ruthless, remorseless, unforgiving Queen of the Willis who seems to have everyone under her power?
Will Giselle be able to convince the heartbroken Willis that they should shed their self-inflicted mantle of torment, sorrow, and misery, and put an end to their own self-inflicted torture and self-harm based upon pointless hate, and forgive those who wronged them, liberate themselves, and return to their graves and rest in peace?
Will Giselle be able to prevent the Willis from killing her beloved, forlorn, grief-stricken prince – who inform the prince that he must ‘dance until he dies’?
Will Giselle be able to return to her grave and rest in peace?
You will have to watch this magnificent performance to find out!
ASIDE: The original fable – compiled from Slavonic fables written around the tenth century – contains some fascinating intrigue. Although Giselle works herself up into a terrible frenzy (depicted in the ‘mad’ dance) Giselle does ‘not’ commit suicide - she dies of a heart attack – depicting a ‘broken heart’ – and as the only remaining sibling, Giselle’s premature death has ended the family lineage because her mother has passed ‘child bearing’ age – and it is the reason Giselle’s mother cossets Giselle in the hope that Giselle will one day marry and bear children to carry on the family blood-line.
So why does Giselle commit suicide in the ballet? Is it to create the foundation for the juxtaposition between her death and that of Hillarion? Well yes – a given – but there is also another reason – and it is this – Giselle has committed ‘suicide’ – which goes against the ‘faith’ so the church will not permit Giselle to be buried in ‘consecrated’ ground so by staging a suicide the logical reason is provided to justify why Giselle is buried in the woods in un-consecrated ground – and why her grave has a primitive ‘cross’ made of branches that will simply rot away and leave an unmarked grave.
The next aspect to consider is the medieval belief that ‘God never pays back debts in money’ – and since Hillarion (Teutonic for ‘brave in battle’) – in a fit of jealous rage - had unintentionally set off the chain of events that led to Giselle’s untimely death, he was ‘expecting the worst’ – plus he was beside himself with remorse. This leads to the situation where Hillarion goes to the lake (the semiology of the lake depicting ‘Earths all-seeing eye’).
The next day, the villagers find Hillarion drowned – BUT – and it’s a BIG but (even bigger than that) – there are THREE sets of footprints at the scene – two sets of footprints going ‘towards’ the edge of the lake – and one set of footprints going ‘away’ from the lake – and no suicide note. This leads to at least seven conjectures – four of which are significant and get to the nub of the question, so must be considered.
The first explanation: Hillarion walked to the lakeside – possibly to clear his head – retraced his steps – and then walked back – and in a fit of remorse and weighed down with guilt he threw himself into the lake and took his own life.
The second explanation: Hillarion walked to the lake, made to return and retraced his steps, and was ‘spooked’ by the ‘willis’ (will-o-the wisp) - caused by plants and insects iridising in the moonlight - and he fled into the deep lake and drowned (as depicted in the ballet).
The third explanation: That Hillarion was chased into the lake – where he drowned - and the footprints ‘leaving’ the lake are those of the pursuer. Now we have a ‘who dunnit’ ‘murder mystery’ on our hands that would make for a cracking ballet.
The fourth explanation: Did the prince and Hillarion accompany each other to the lakeside and then a row broke out and things went horribly wrong? We know the prince has a temper on him – which we see in act one when the prince goes to draw his sword when Hillarion confronts him – so we know that the prince would not have any hesitation in murdering Hillarion.
Whatever the circumstances, Hillarion’s death fulfils the belief that ‘God never pays back debts in money’ – bearing in mind that this fable pre-dates by many centuries Thomas Paine’s masterwork ‘The age of reason’ which was instrumental in ‘waking up’ Britain and kick-starting the ‘age of reason’ – which led to the industrial revolution.
We must now turn our attention to the apparition that the prince experiences.
This could be considered a ‘nightmare’ – brought about by the prince’s guilt at playing his prank – not realising that he would ‘actually’ fall in love – and his meddling would have tragic consequences – and his nightmare was the soul’s way of reaching redemption so that he could recover from the tragic ordeal and move on.
So far so good – but for one important aspect – in the original fable - the prince is not awakened from his slumber by the toll of a church bell – he is awakened by Princess Bathilde – the woman who graciously gave Giselle her necklace – and then later walks away with callous indifference as Giselle passes away. Knowing this, you now have the motive, means, and method to compile a fifth plausible explanation of what might have caused Hillarion’s death.
Peter Wright in his late twenties had terrific foresight and vision when he staged and choreographed Giselle by introducing these elements into the plot and concluding the narrative in the way that he has – because had it all ended with Princess Bathilde turning up to console the prince, it would have painted the prince as a philandering womaniser - Hillarion would be the hero - the whole moral point of busy-bodies interfering with and trashing people’s lives would have been lost – the ‘love scenes’ would be meaningless and empty; serve no purpose; and stand for nothing – there would not be any ‘motivation’ for Giselle to try to convince the Willis to knock their pointless ‘self-harm’ on the head - the ballet would have been seen as a tasteless ‘joke’ (you’re having a laugh mate) - and in all likelihood - the ballet would have flopped. To have the foresight and vision to see all of this at such a young age is the genius of this remarkable man.