This timeless classic returns to the Artscape Opera Stage from 6 to 15 July, danced by the Cape Town City Ballet.
The Cape Town City Ballet (CTCB) presents Giselle for 8 performances, from 6 to 15 July 2018, at the Artscape Opera House, accompanied by Cape Town Philharmonic Orchestra, conducted by Allan Stephenson, at all but one performance.
The Cape Town City Ballet continues to build on its collaboration, fostered over several decades, with companies in the UK, Europe and the USA, with the appearance of one of Europe’s top ballerinas, Ksenia Ovsyanick, from the Berlin State Ballet, at two performances. She will be partnered by the CTCB’s own Senior Principal Dancer, Daniel Szybkowski. Other casts of the leading roles are our own stars, Laura Bosenberg also with Daniel Szybkowski, Kirstel Paterson with Conrad Nusser and Mariette Opperman with Xola Putye.
The role of Myrtha, Queen of the Wilis, is shared by Rosamund Ford, Claire Spector, Leanè Theunissen and Caitlin Smith, while Hilarion is interpreted by Xola Putye, Craig Pedro and Conrad Nusser.
Johnny Bovang plays the part of the Duke in this production. He was, for many years, South Africa’s leading male dancer, partnering ballerinas in Cape Town and Johannesburg. Two former ballerinas with the Capab Ballet Co, Anne Layfield and Nicolette Loxton, share the role of Giselle’s mother.
Giselle is a ballet in two acts with a libretto by Jules-Henri Vernoy de Saint-Georges and Theophile Gautier. The music was composed by Adophe Adam, and the original choreography was created by Jean Coralli and Jules Perrot. The librettist took his inspiration from a poem by Heinrich Heine, and the ballet tells the story of a peasant girl named Giselle, whose ghost, after her premature death, protects her lover from the vengeance of a group of evil spirits called Wilis, female spirits who, jilted before their wedding day, rise from their graves at night and seek revenge upon men by dancing them to death.
The ballet was first presented at the Paris Opéra’s Salle le Peletier on 28 June 1841 with Carlotta Grisi as Giselle, Lucien Petipa as Albrecht, and Jean Coralli as Hilarion. In South Africa, the first performance of the ballet was presented in 1947 by the South African National Ballet, previously Cecily Robinson’s Ballet Club, with Alexis Rassine & Olive James in the leading roles.
In 1949, Anton Dolin produced the ballet for the South African National Ballet, who joined forces with the UCT Ballet Co for the occasion. Dolin partnered Alicia Markova, and they danced in Cape Town’s Alhambra Theatre. It was again produced by the UCT Ballet Co in 1955, featuring Alexis Rassine and Nadia Nerina,
The first time the ballet was danced by the newly-formed CAPAB Ballet Co was in 1965. David Poole created his version of the ballet in 1972 in the Nico Malan Opera House, when the leading roles were danced by Phyllis Spira and Eduard Greyling, with Elizabeth Triegaardt as Myrtha, Queen of the Wilis, and John Simons in the pivotal role of Hilarion – a version that was reproduced many times for the CAPAB Ballet Co.
The Cape Town City Ballet has performed Poole’s version nine times since 1997, produced by Elizabeth Triegaardt, by kind permission of Owen Murray, who himself danced both Albrecht and Hilarion during his long career with the Capab Ballet Co. Giselle is an audience favourite and many will remember the other partnerships of Olga Twell with Keith Maidwell, Carol Kinsey with Johan Jooste, Nicolette Loxton with Philip Boyd, Tracy Li with Daniel Rajna, Marianne Bauer with Johnny Bovang and Keith Mackintosh with both Linda Smit and Clare Shepherd-Wilson.
The art of dance is musical, visual, technical and interpretive, and these qualities come strongly to the fore when dancing a role such as Giselle, Albrecht, or any of the supporting roles in the ballet.
Giselle is being danced to full orchestral accompaniment for all but one performance, so dancers must adapt to tempi that naturally vary from performance to performance. When it comes to the corps de ballet, the choreography demands that each dancer is totally in sync with the music – not an easy task. The CTCB’s corps is recognised as being of world class and will again transport the audiences in the second act to the eerie and evil world of the Wilis.
Performances are in the Artscape Opera House from 6 – 15 July 2018. Ticket prices range between R150 and R500. Book at Computicket: www.computicket.com or ARTSCAPE Dial-A-Seat: 021 421 7695.