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Review: Giselle – City Ballet of San Diego

The City Ballet of San Diego season opener Giselle was a feast for my eyes (lots and lots of bulges). Giselle is a ballet by Adolphe Adam and was first presented by the Ballet du Théâtre de l'Académie Royale de Musique in Paris, France, on June 28, 1841. It’s a fabulous love story about lies, broken wedding plans, a two timing man, dead brides, and, of course, lots of point!

Giselle, the young girl loved by everyone in the village, comes from a single parent home- meaning she has a very protective mother that does her best to protect her from men (probably because of her own personal experience). What is wonderful about Giselle is that it deals with a situation that everyone can relate to – cheating men. Women can relate to Giselle and her approach to finding her true love and men can relate to or either connect to Albrecht or Hilarion and their competitive nature to “get the girl”.

Giselle, naïve maybe, but not stupid, is not afraid to express her feelings towards Albrecht (who we later find out is already engaged to another woman). When Giselle finds out, she loses it and dies. In Act Two she becomes a Wilis, one of many female ghosts living in the forest made up of brides that die before their wedding day that haunt men and make them dance until they die of exhaustion. While Albrecht is at Giselles grave, the Wilis find him and make him dance and dance and dance. The ghost of Giselle then saves Albrecht and forgives him and realizes that she will be a Wilis forever.

Throughout the performance, the dancers embrace the music that cultivate into an emotive story filled with dramatic expression and excellent technique. Divided into two acts, the first bright and lovely, and the second dark and disturbing, the set and scenery itself (courtesy of Sacramento Ballet) was a delight and certainly mood altering. Choreographed by Elizabeth Wistrich after Jules Perrot, the peasant dancers and Wilis, each in period costumes, support the lead dancers tremendously. I emphasize that the orchestra was fantastic. Audience applause during the performance was a little disruptive but well deserved as the lead dancers performed at their peak. Overall, an excellent choice by the City Ballet of San Diego to make Giselle the season opener.