GISELLE…Ballet’s Great Tragedy

The History ~ Since its premiere in 1841, Giselle has become one of the most popular ballets of all time and is considered ballet’s great tragedy. Giselle represents the greatest achievement of ballet’s Romantic era. After it fell out of repertory at the Paris Opera, it returned to the West via Russia and had been handed down through generations of artists. Giselle continues to enthrall audiences today, 170 years after its triumphant premiere.

Poster from 1842 Giselle premiere

The Story ~ Giselle tells the story of a young peasant girl seduced and betrayed by a nobleman. Dying of a broken heart, Giselle joins the ranks of the supernatural Wilis: women scorned before their wedding day and doomed to rise from the grave and take revenge for eternity.

Carlotta Grisi as Giselle in Giselle Act II

Sources ~ These include an 1842 manuscript rehearsal score, made the year after Giselle‘s premiere, that perfectly links action with music; a Parisian notation score from the 1860s that reads like a brilliant screenplay; and a Russian notation score from the turn of the century, from which nearly every modern production can be traced. Taken together, these sources bring us closer to that first Giselle and the intentions of the creators.

Manuscript Scan

A World Premiere Staging ~ Recent findings have allowed Pacific Northwest Ballet to get a closer look at early productions of Giselle and understand even more clearly why this ballet above all others resonated so strongly with audiences of its time. Artistic Director Peter Boal has assembled a team of artists and researchers to take these exciting sources and develop a new staging of Giselle, bringing yesteryear forward to the present in a fresh and rich production.



PNB corps de ballet dancer Amanda Clark doing a photo shoot for PNB’s
world premiere staging of Giselle June 3-12. 2011. Photo © Phil Thompson


GISELLE at PNB
June 3-12, 2011
TICKETS: 206.441.2424 or PNB.org

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s