BALLET REVIEW All Eyes on Giselle

A Classic Ballet for Connoisseurs and Newbies

Boston Ballet

Boston Opera House, Boston, MA

October 3, 2009

Giselle was a fine choice as the season opener for the Boston Ballet, in the terms of the company’s new goals of enticing and capturing a younger audience by placing ballet in a trendier and more accessible spotlight. What could been better than the timeless tale of love to win over the hearts of young and old?

Giselle takes us through the classic journey of an unguarded and innocent soul who loves so intensely that her love, marked by deception, leads to death. However, the story ends, or, should I say, begins the second act, by entrance into a supernatural world where the power of love remains forever and transcends both life and death. There is a certain warmth found in the familiarity of an aged tale, one that is often underappreciated in modern culture. Thinking back to the expressions of those standing in the long line to pick up tickets, I recall the sighs filled with both delighted anticipation and fond reminiscence as they awaited to watch one of their favorites. It brought me back to times of when surprise endings were foreign and fans found full pleasure from the quality of the performance without needing to rely on the plot to fill the void.

That Saturday evening, Giselle — one of the most coveted and prestigious roles in ballet — was played by the ever graceful Lorna Feijoo. Our prince, Prince Albrecht that is, was played by Yury Yanowsky. Regular ticket holders feasted their eyes on a new venue, the Boston Opera house, a welcome change from the usual Wang Theater. The two act, two hour performance, complete with one 20 minute intermission, is incredibly friendly. Aside from the dreamy transition into the otherworldly second act, which may seem a bit unexpected, an attendee who is completely unacquainted with the story of Giselle will find the ballet not only easy to follow, but also very easy to dive into.

Early in Act I, the audience meets the young Giselle falling quickly in love with Price Albrecht; Giselle’s overflowing joy is intensified with the bubbly giggles from the audience. Without actually being able to see the facial expression of Feijoo and Yanowsky from the seats, the audience knows the exact expressions of the two — dreamy eyes and shy smiles — from simple leans of the body and tilts of the head. The audience happily falls in love.

Nothing seems too dramatic for this romantic tale, not even Giselle’s epic fainting to death in response to Albrecht’s deception. The experience that Giselle provides is one not only marked by the involvement of the whole cast, but also by the pure beauty of Jean Coralli’s choreography and Adolphe Adam’s score. The dynamic role of Giselle — from spirited peasant girl to enchanting ghost — sets her apart. As I glanced over at my guest who accompanied me to the performance, I found her leaning at a 45 degree angle at the edge of her seat, with both hands covering her mouth. To say the least, we found ourselves leaving the show with a reaffirmed belief in love, rekindled dreams of becoming a ballerina, and, yes, two bouncy, pastel pink tutus from the gift stand.

Simply said, Giselle, currently being performed by the Boston Ballet until October 11, is an enjoyable performance for ballet enthusiasts and skeptics alike.