Ballet News Reviews | The Mikhailovsky Ballet, Giselle
Giselle, ou Les Wilis
The Mikhailovsky Ballet
Tuesday 26th March 2013
What a night. One of those rarer-than-hens-teeth nights in the theatre when you’re transported into the ballet and time stands still.
The sets for the Mikhailovsky Ballet’s Giselle are beautiful – first rustic and crisp and later soulful and still. But the star of the night has to be Natalia Osipova as Giselle. She was perfect in every way. She acts the part right to her quivering fingernails, so complete is her transformation from peasant girl to ghost. During the peasants’ Autumn feast Giselle is entranced by the Count’s fiancee (Olga Semyonova) and her finely detailled clothes, and Osipova is so touching in these scenes as she reaches out to touch the fabric without being seen, mimes sewing her own skirt or as she reassures her mother (tenderly danced by Anna Novosyolova) that she’s really fine.
But her dancing. Oh my goodness, her dancing. Osipova’s feet are as soft as butter and feather light. She can fly, I’m sure of it. Gravity has nothing on her and the adagio sections went beyond all reasonable human expectation.
When she loses her mind after discovering that the man she is in love with is betrothed to another, she softly mimes her earlier joy at being with him as she recalls the good times, her feet gently and sadly going through the steps she had danced with such happiness earlier.
Ivan Vasiliev danced his heart out as the hapless Count, and their pas de deux at the graveside was beyond compare (I’ll forgive the slightly clunky partnering because he never once strayed from the essence of the character and together they were dynamite). I can also forgive the undecided scenery in Act 11 when a couple of bits of tree couldn’t decide whether to stay or go.
Ekaterina Borchenko, as the imperious Queen of the Wilis, commanded the stage and did not give so much as an inch as Giselle pleaded with her to save her lover. By dawn the Wilis lose their powers and the Count is saved, but Giselle’s ghost returns to her tomb and he is left alone. Both Wilis’ variations were well-timed and emotional, danced by Asthik Ogannesian and Valeria Zapasnikova.
I’m not massively fond of the mechanism for whisking off the Wilis’ veils. I think it adds more melancholic intensity if they keep them on for longer, and remove them off-stage, but there was no faulting the Corps who were perfectly in sync and never wavered in their ghoulish task.
This is Nikita Dolgushin’s production, premiered at the Mikhailovsky Theatre in 2007, with choreography by Jean Coralli, Jules Perrot and Marius Petipa and Adolphe Adam’s music. Osipova and Vasiliev took the performance to another level. The pair looked emotionally spent by the end, and the audience rose as one in recognition and thanks.
Giselle is in rep until 29th March