Giselle

Synopsis

 

Act I

The following plot summary is that of the first performances in Paris with Grisi in the title role. The plot changed slightly in details as the years passed.

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 and beautiful peasant girl, Giselle. Despite being betrothed to Bathilde, the daughter of the Duke of Courtland, Albrecht disguises himself as a humble villager called "Loys" in order to woo the innocent Giselle, who knows nothing of his true identity. With the help of his squire, Albrecht hides his fine attire 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 "Loys" 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, and disapproves of Giselle's fondness for dancing.

A party of noblemen seeking refreshment following the rigors of the hunt arrives in the village. Albrecht hurries away, knowing he will be recognized by Bathilde, who is in attendance. 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 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 erratically, causing her weak heart to give out. She dies 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.

 

Act II

Late at night, Hilarion mourns at Giselle's grave in the forest, but is frightened away by the arrival of the Wilis, the ghostly spirits of maidens betrayed by their lovers. The Wilis, led by their merciless queen Myrtha, haunt the forest at night to seek revenge on any man they encounter, 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, 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 turn on Albrecht, 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. After bidding a tender farewell to Albrecht, Giselle returns to her grave to rest in peace.

Program and cast

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Peter Brenkus, 2016
© Peter Brenkus, 2016
Peter Brenkus, 2016
© Peter Brenkus, 2016
Peter Brenkus, 2016
© Peter Brenkus, 2016
Peter Brenkus, 2016
© Peter Brenkus, 2016
Peter Brenkus, 2016
© Peter Brenkus, 2016

Slovak National Theatre - SND Historical Building

The Historical Building of the Slovak National Theatre stands on the site of the former city theatre. Commissioned by the Count Juraj Csáky, it stood here as early as in 1776. The current building was built to the design by the architects Ferdinand Fellner and Hermann Helmer, opened in 1886. The building in eclectic style is one of many theatre buildings designed by the eminent team of the Vienna-based architects, which dot a number of European cities, including Sofia (Bulgarian), Budapest (Hungary, Karlovy Vary and Brno (Czech Republic), Zürich (Switzerland) or Berlin in Germany (Theater unter den Linden).


The City Theatre Bratislava first staged the stagione theatre performances by German and Hungarian companies. From 1920 it houses The Slovak National Theatre. Until the 1950s it was home to drama, opera and ballet performances. It wasn’t until the opening of the permanent stage for the SND Drama Company that the SND Historic Building became exclusively dedicated to the SND Opera and Ballet.


The listed building, given by the nature of its heritage protection, had to retain its original façade, the interior of the auditorium, the entrance lobby and the salon on the 1st floor. Nonetheless, the auditorium underwent substantial spatial transformation. To provide members of the audience with greater comfort, the transformation also involved reduction of the number of seats. All other areas have been modernised. Central cloak room opened in the basement (beneath the auditorium), cafés on the 2nd floor and smoking rooms on the ground floor and the 3rd floor. Areas on both sides of the stage have been refurbished to serve as changing rooms for the performing artists, wardrobe warehouses, equipment rooms and tuning salons (in the basement). The contemporary annex houses offices dedicated to directors, conductors, prompters, changing rooms, rehearsal rooms and administrative offices used by the SND administration of the SND Opera and Ballet. Three underground storeys are beneath the annex and the adjacent Komenského square: the 2 floor is home to stage decorations warehouse and the 3rd floor consists of two spacious ballet rehearsal halls.

 

 

How to get there


Public transport

All tram lines operate within the walking distance of the SND Historical Building, as do bus lines No: 29, 30, 37, 82, 91, 191 a 901

 

Buses: 

Bus stop within walking distance of the New Bridge / Nový most: 

29, 30, 37, 82, 91, 191, 901 (international line)

Trams: 

Stops adjacent to the SND Historical Building: 

Jesenského, and/or Nám. Ľ. Štúra

Tram lines No 2 (only in the direction from ŽST Nové mesto), 4 (only in the direction from Zlaté piesky), 5 (only in the direction from Rača – Komisárky), 6, 9 (in the direction from Karlova Ves only the stop Jesenského)

Stops within walking distance at the squares Kamenné námestie and Námestie SNP: 

Lines No: 2 (in the direction from Šafárikovo námestie), 3, 4 (in the direction from Dúbravka), 5

Albertus teolog
© Peter Brenkus, 2016
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