The story of Giselle is one of young love and betrayal; of a philandering Count Albrecht and a trusting peasant girl, Giselle.
The Story - Act I
Despite having a weak heart, Giselle loves to dance and her beauty enchants Count Albrecht. On the day of the village festival, Albrecht disguises himself as a peasant. Unaware of his noble birth, Giselle first resists Albrecht’s advances but ultimately succumbs to his romantic persistence. She trusts his pledge of eternal love, and she too falls in love. The arrival of a hunting party in the villages includes the Duke of Courland and his daughter Bathilde, to whom Albrecht is already engaged. Hilarion, a gamekeeper in love with Giselle, discovers Albrecht’s true identity and reveals his lie to Giselle. Learning of this deceit, Giselle loses her mind, and the first act ends with her untimely death.
The Story - Act 2
Act II is set deep in the forest where Giselle was buried and has become a wili. The wilis are ghostly apparitions - girls who have died betrayed by their faithless lovers on the eve of their weddings. Mourning at Giselle’s grave, Hilarion tragically encounters Myrtha, Queen of the Wilis, and her maidens, who haunt the forest, luring those who pass by to dance with them until they die, which he does. Full of remorse, Albrecht also comes to Giselle’s grave. Myrtha commands Giselle to come from her grave and entice Albrecht to join her in dance. Giselle dances with Albrecht through the night. And although she was betrayed by Albrecht, she helps him to stay alive until the dawn when the wilis lose their power and cannot destroy him. At dawn, Giselle disappears into her grave, and Albrecht’s life is spared by Giselle’s love.
Choreography Marius Petipa, Jean Coralli, Jules Perrot
Staging Vlada Kysselova
Music Adolphe Adam