Giselle, Royal Ballet, April 2009



I attended two performances: the opening night of a new series on 6th April, and a second one on 28thApril.

On 6th April the cast was headed by Marianela Nuñez and Carlos Acosta as Giselle and Albrecht. Both were excellent, and her jumps in Act II were terrific. Their pas-de-deux work was beautifully controlled, if a little mechanical, and each one danced extremely well on their own. Gary Avis was a very fine Hilarion, utterly convincing, without over-acting in any way. As Queen of the Wilis we had Helen Crawford, dancing elegantly and commanding the stage in Act II, with her two attendants beautifully danced by Samantha Raine and Hikaru Kobayashi, the first with superb poise and control, and the second with extremely graceful arm movements. The pas de six in Act I was very well performed by Laura Morera, Ricardo Cervera, Samantha Raine, Kenta Kura, Hikaru Kobayashi and Brian Maloney, and this was an excellent cast, with Thomas Whiteside and Genesia Rosato doing a fine job as Albrecht’s squire and Giselle’s mother. My only complaint is that thecorps de ballet lacked rigour, but this may come with later performances — when the wilis exit in fours after Hilarion’s death, each four should be in a rhombus shape, which only one group out of six managed. But this was altogether a wonderful performance of Giselle, and Boris Gruzin conducted with vibrancy and sensitivity.

The second performance I saw, on 28th April, had a cast headed by Tamara Rojo and Rupert Pennefather as Giselle and Albrecht, and they were brilliant, both in their pas-de-deux work and individually in Act II. Pennefather has a beautiful line that gives him authority on stage, and their musicality comes through very well when they dance together. They also acted their parts convincingly in Act I, as did Bennet Gartside who was an excellent Hilarion. The pas-de-six in Act I was led by Yuhui Choe and Yohei Sasaki, with Elizabeth Harrod, Fernando Montaño, Emma Maguire and Ernst Meisner. Choe and Sasaki were terrific, and she was also excellent in Act II as one of the two attendants for Myrtha, the Queen of the Wilis. Myrtha herself was danced by Laura McCulloch, who did some fine jumps, but seemed slightly off the music. Her other attendant, apart from Yuhui Choe, was Sian Murphy.

The corps de ballet had a better shape in Act II than on the opening night, and my only complaint about this second act, and it’s a small one, is that I thought it lacked the emotional energy of opening night. This of course is one of those things that depend so much on the night, and it’s difficult to pin down the reason. The conductor was Boris Gruzin who also did the opening performance on 6th April.

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