Virtual Museum

Virtual Museum

Giselle

About the Ballet

Giselle is considered by many to be the quintessential Romantic ballet, representing the aesthetics of a bygone era, not only in dance, but music, literature, philosophy and art as well. It premiered in France at the Paris Opera in 1841 where it proved to be an instant success. Following its Paris premiere Giselle was performed throughout Europe and the United States and inspired a number of theatrical productions as well as the naming of a new flower, “The Giselle.”  Giselle’s farewell to Albrecht even inspired a popular Victorian song, Ah No! You’ll not forget me! The production was introduced to Russian audiences in late 1841 with the title role performed by the great dramatic ballerina Fanny Elssler. It is from this version that today’s interpretations take their cues with the ballet’s emphasis lying in the drama of the story. Despite its early success Giselle disappeared from the stage in Paris and London for nearly 40 years only to be reintroduced in the early 20th century spawning many modern productions. Giselle has been called the Hamlet of ballet and the title role is one of the most challenging roles to perform due to the great contrast in character which must be portrayed by the ballerina, from the earthly sweet movements of the first act through the dramatic climax of madness to the spiritual, airborne, weightless movements of the second act.

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Ballet Notes

Get more insight into the production - Ballet Notes are detailed guides to the company's dynamic repertoire. Read the synopsis and articles and view more photos in the Giselle Ballet Notes.

Read the 2009 Ballet Notes

Read the 2012 Ballet Notes

Production Chronology

Pas de Deux from Giselle 
Premiere Date: November 12, 1951
Choreography: Jean Coralli and Jules Perrot
Music: J.F. Burgmüller

Giselle, Act II
Premiere Date: January 28, 1952
Choreography: Jean Coralli and Jules Perrot
Music: Adolphe Adam
Costume and Set Design: Kay Ambrose

Giselle 
Premiere Date: October 28, 1952
Choreography: Jean Coralli and Jules Perrot
Music: Adolphe Adam, edited and arranged by Godfrey Ridout
Costume and Set Design: Kay Ambrose

Giselle
Premiere Date: November 6, 1956
Choreography: Jean Coralli and Jules Perrot, produced by Celia Franca
Music: Adolphe Adam
Costume and Set Design: Kay Ambrose

Giselle
Premiere Date: April 16, 1970
Choreography: produced by Peter Wright, after Jean Coralli, Jules Perrot and Marius Petipa
Music: Adolphe Adam, revised and orchestrated by George Crum (1969) and, revised by Joseph Horowitz (1992)
Costume and Set Design: Desmond Heeley
Lighting Design: Gil Wechsler

Giselle was produced as a memorial to the late William P. Walker and was made possible through the courtesy of many generous friends of the National Ballet. 

Top image credit: The National Ballet of Canada tutus on display. Photo by Setareh Sarmadi.