Ballet’s classic tragedy Giselle returns to Kennedy Center July 5–8 in a romantic production from the company where it was created.
Making a rare international appearance, Paris Opera Balletreturns to the Kennedy Center for the first time since 1993 with their signature work, Giselle. July 5–8 in the Opera House, they perform the beloved ballet that stands as one of the great creations in the history of the Paris Opera Ballet. The New York Times says, “For those who live for ballet virtuosity, this is…the company to see.”
First performed there in 1841, Giselle remains the quintessential Romantic ballet. Carlotta Grisi, who both inspired and created the role of the delicate young maiden, was the first to bring a supernatural touch of lightness to the myth, carried away by Adolphe Adam’s score. Originally choreographed for the Paris Opera Ballet by Jean Coralli and Jules Perrot, with late 19th-Century input of Marius Petipa, and then adapted in 1991 by Patrice Bart and Eugène Polyakov, nearly two centuries later this same company performs it unlike any other, to music played by the Kennedy Center Opera House Orchestra.
The two-act masterpiece follows the journey of Giselle, an innocent village girl whose life of idyllic optimism is shattered by the handsome Duke Albrecht in disguise as a commoner. After suffering a tragic fate born out of the Duke’s deceit, the spirit of Giselle nevertheless returns from beyond to save him from harm with the strength of her love, ultimately transcending death with forgiveness.
One of the world’s finest ensembles, the ballet is led by the grande dame of French dance, Brigitte Lefèvre, who is herself a product of the Paris Opera Ballet School and a former member of the corps. The company’s origins can be traced back to 1661 with the founding of the Académie Royale de Danse and the Ballet de l’Opéra (1713) by King Louis XIV of France. Its repertoire is extensive, ranging from the major Romantic and classical ballets to creations by contemporary choreographers.