Giselle

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Synopsis

 

Act I

 

The ballet opens on a sunny autumnal morning in the Rhineland during the Middle Ages. The grape harvest is in progress. Duke Albrecht of Silesia, a young nobleman, has fallen in love with a shy, beautiful peasant girl, Giselle, despite being betrothed to Bathilde, the daughter of the Duke of Courland. Albrecht disguises himself as a humble villager called "Loys" in order to court the enchanting and innocent Giselle, who knows nothing of his true identity. With the help of his squire, Albrecht hides his fine attire, hunting horn, and sword before coaxing Giselle out of her house to romance her as the harvest festivities begin.

Hilarion, a local gamekeeper, is also in love with Giselle and is highly suspicious of the newcomer who has won Giselle's affections. He tries to convince the naive Giselle that her beau cannot be trusted, but she ignores his warnings. Giselle's mother, Berthe, is very protective of her daughter, as Giselle has a weak heart that leaves her in delicate health. She discourages a relationship between Giselle and Loys, thinking Hilarion would be a better match, and disapproves of Giselle's fondness for dancing, due to the strain on her heart.

A party of noblemen seeking refreshment following the rigors of the hunt arrive in the village with Albrecht's betrothed, Bathilde, among them. Albrecht hurries away, knowing he would be recognized and greeted by Bathilde, exposing him as a nobleman. The villagers welcome the party, offer them drinks, and perform several dances. Bathilde is charmed with Giselle's sweet and demure nature, not knowing of her relationship with Albrecht. Giselle is honored when the beautiful and regal stranger offers her a necklace as a gift before the group of nobles depart.

The villagers continue the harvest festivities, and Albrecht emerges again to dance with Giselle, who is named the Harvest Queen. Hilarion interrupts the festivities. He has discovered Albrecht's finely made sword and presents it as proof that the lovesick peasant boy is really a nobleman who is promised to another woman. Using Albrecht's hunting horn, Hilarion calls back the party of noblemen. Albrecht has no time to hide and has no choice but to greet Bathilde as his betrothed. All are shocked by the revelation, but none more than Giselle, who becomes inconsolable when faced with her lover's deception. Knowing that they can never be together, Giselle flies into a mad fit of grief in which all the tender moments she shared with "Loys" flash before her eyes. She begins to dance wildly and erratically, ultimately causing her weak heart to give out. She collapses before dying in Albrecht's arms. Hilarion and Albrecht turn on each other in rage before Albrecht flees the scene in misery. The curtain closes as Berthe weeps over her daughter's body.

In the original version, taken up again recently by a production of the ROB, Giselle stabs herself with Albrecht's sword, which explains why her body is laid to rest in the forest, in unhallowed ground, where the Wilis have the power to summon her. Most modern versions are sanitized and have edited out the suicide.


Act II


Vaslav Nijinsky as Albrecht, 1910

Late at night, Hilarion mourns at Giselle's forest grave, but is frightened away by the arrival of the Wilis, the ghostly spirits of maidens betrayed by their lovers. Many Wilis were abandoned on their wedding days, and all died of broken hearts. The Wilis, led by their merciless queen Myrtha, dance and haunt the forest at night to exact their revenge on any man they encounter, regardless of who he may be, forcing their victims to dance until they die of exhaustion.

Myrtha and the Wilis rouse Giselle's spirit from her grave and induct her into their clan before disappearing into the forest. Albrecht arrives to lay flowers on Giselle's grave and he weeps with guilt over her death. Giselle's spirit appears and Albrecht begs her forgiveness. Giselle, her love undiminished unlike her vengeful sisters, gently forgives him. She disappears to join the rest of the Wilis and Albrecht desperately follows her.

Meanwhile, the Wilis have cornered a terrified Hilarion. They use their magic to force him to dance until he is nearly dead, and then drown him in a nearby lake. Then they spy Albrecht, and turn on him, sentencing him to death as well. He pleads to Myrtha for his life, but she coldly refuses. Giselle's pleas are also dismissed and Albrecht is forced to dance until sunrise. However, the power of Giselle's love counters the Wilis' magic and spares his life. The other spirits return to their graves at daybreak, but Giselle has broken through the chains of hatred and vengeance that control the Wilis, and is thus released from their powers and will haunt the forest no longer. After bidding a tender farewell to Albrecht, Giselle returns to her grave to rest in peace.

Program and cast

Slovak National Theatre - SND, New Building

The New Building of the Slovak National Theatre was designed by the architects Martin Kusý, Pavol Paňák and Peter Bauer. Their proposal won the competition that brought together fifty-three projects. The building stretches over seven stories. It houses over two thousand rooms and three main halls (The Opera and Ballet Stage, and the Drama Stage, and The Studio). The building is also home to a restaurant seating 1,200, a club, café, libresso and a kitchen.

The noble feel of the building is further enhanced by a number of outdoor and indoor art pieces. A fountain by Alexander Biľkovič, Iľja Skoček and Pavol Bauer is located in the front court. The entrance lobby prides itself with the Spring by the architect Pavol Bauer and the painter Dušan Buřil. The splendour of the front is further enhanced by the cascade by peter Roller and two towers by the architect Pavol Bauer. In addition to these works that are part of the building, the indoor areas are often decorated with theatre costumes and exhibitions.

SND New Building opened on 14 April 2007 at 7PM. The opening ceremony was attended by the then President of Slovakia Ivan Gašparovič and Minister of Culture Marek Maďarič.

 

How to get there

 

The venue opens to visitors one hour prior to the beginning of the performance.

 

BY CAR 

Visitors attending any SND performance are welcome to park free of charge, on the parking lot adjacent to the theatre.

 

PUBLIC TRANSPORT 

The public transport lines that take you to the SND are bus lines No 28, 50, 70, 78, 88, 95, 133, 801 and tram lines No 2, 4, 5 & 6 that stop at the square Šafárikovo námestie, as well as the trolleybus line No 210.

 

Buses

Bus stop SND New Building (adjacent to the SD New Building):
Bus line No 28
Bus line No 133
Bus line No 801 (international bus line)

Bus stop Landererova (adjacent to the SND New Building): 
Bus line No 50 (from the direction OD Slimák)
Bus line No 88
Bus line No 95

Bus stop Malá scéna (within walking distance):
Bus line No 70
Bus line No 78

Bus line No 50 (in the direction from the Aupark)
Bus line No 28 (also servicing the bus stop SND New Building/Nová budova SND)
Bus line No 95 (also servicing the bus stop Landererova)
Bus line No 133 (also servicing the bus stop SND New Building/ Nová budova SND)

 

Trams
Tram stop Šafárikovo námestie (within walking distance)

Tram lines No 2, 4, 5 & 6 (an option to transfer to bus lines No 95 – stop Malá scéna, and/or Landererova, No 78 – stop Malá scéna)

 

Trolleybus:
Stop Nová budova SND/ SND New Building (adjacent to the SND New Building):

Trolleybus stop Ni 210 (in the direction from the main train Station/ Hlavná stanica Bratislava – stop Nová budova SND ( SND New Building)

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