A beloved romantic ballet. Love, betrayal, and forgiveness are paired with coveted virtuoso roles. This haunting and tender classic tells the story of the promise and tragedy of young love.
Julie Kent, Artistic Director
Victor Barbee, Associate Artistic Director
Wolf Trap Orchestra
Charles Barker, Guest Conductor
Choreography after JEAN CORALLI, JULES PERROT, and MARIUS PETIPA
Staged by JULIE KENT and VICTOR BARBEE
Libretto by THÉOPHILE GAUTIER, on a theme by HEINRICH HEINE
Music by ADOLPHE ADAM
Music scores researched and edited from the original manuscripts of Adolphe Adam by LARS PAYNE
Scenery by SIMON PASTUKH
Costumes by GALINA SOLOVYEVA
Lighting by ROBERT L. FABRIZIO
Giselle EUNWON LEE
Count Albrecht BROOKLYN MACK
Hilarion, The Village Huntsman GIAN CARLO PEREZ
Wilfred, the Count’s Squire ANDILE NDLOVU
Berthe, Giselle’s Mother ELAINE KUDO
The Duke of Courland TAMÁS KRIZSA
Bathilde, the Duke's Daughter SONA KHARATIAN
Peasant Pas de Deux AYANO KIMURA and JONATHAN JORDAN
Giselle’s Friends Tamako Miyazaki, Stephanie Sorota, Esmiana Jani, Victoria Arrea, Lucy Nevin, Ashley Murphy
Villagers Olivia Lipnick, Andrea Allmon, Samara Rittinger, Peyton Anderson, Kimberly Cilento, Sarah Steele, Yaman Kelemet, Abby Granlund, Liam Hogan, Rafael Bejarano, Stephen Nakagawa, Nicholas Cowden, Javier Morera, Gilles Delellio, Alexandros Pappajohn, Darion Flores
Peasant Women & Men Barbara Berti, Sara Lange, Joel Selva
Peasant Girl & Boys Isabelle Chiara Bognetti, Leo Carcenac Ratsimbazafy, Gabe Saad
Royal Ladies & Men Ginger Dietrich, Maureen Doyle, Anne Guy, Chris Reed, Oscar Sanchez, Paul Fahrenkopf, James Smailes, Donald Worm
Trumpeters Benton Stivali, Noah Schwartz
Falconers Sage Wilson, Landry Ridener
Crossbow Men Joshua Kiesel, Lope Lim
Houndmasters Cole Chertok, Matteo Garattoni
Hounds Izzi, Homer, and Milou
Myrta KATERYNA DERECHYNA
Moyna ASHLEY MURPHY
Zulma STEPHANIE SOROTA
The Wilis Alexa Torres, Lucy Nevin, Jessy Dick, Victoria Arrea, Esmiana Jani, Abby Granlund, Helga Paris-Morales, Kimberly Cilento, Samara Rittinger, Nardia Boodoo, Julia Rust, Yaman Kelemet, Sarah Steele, Brittany Stone, Andrea Allmon, Audrey Malek, Olivia Lipnick, Erin McAvoy
The ballet is set in the vineyard country bordering the Rhine. Hilarion, the village huntsman and a gamekeeper to the court, returns from his early morning chores and pauses before a
neighboring cottage—the home of Giselle, with whom he is in love. Villagers pass by on their way to the vineyards, where they will harvest the last of the grapes before the Wine Festival.
Count Albrecht arrives with his squire and enters a cottage opposite Giselle’s. He emerges dressed as a peasant, submits his disguise to the squire’s inspection, and dismisses him. Hilarion has witnessed this exchange and is puzzled that the squire should show such deference to
this youth, who is known to the villager as a fellow peasant named Loys. Loys excuses himself from joining the grape pickers so that he can be alone with Giselle. He swears eternal love, and she takes the traditional test with a daisy—“he loves me, he loves me not.” When it appears the answer will be “not,” she throws the flower away; Loys retrieves it and, by surreptitiously discarding a petal, comes up with the answer “he loves me.” Hilarion interrupts, protesting that he, and not Loys, truly loves Giselle. A quarrel ensues, and Hilarion’s suspicions deepen as Loys instinctively reaches for the sword that, as a nobleman, he is accustomed to wearing.
The villagers return, and Giselle invites them to join in a dance to celebrate the harvest. Her mother, Berthe, interrupts and warns her that her life may be endangered if she overexerts herself by dancing. She is struck by a momentary hallucination of her daughter in death. She sees her as a wili, a restless spirit who has died with her love unrequited.
A horn sounds in the distance, and Loys recognizes it as coming from the hunting party of the prince of Courland. As Loys hastily departs, Hilarion breaks into Loys’ cottage. Refreshments are served to the hunters, and the prince’s daughter, Bathilde, gives Giselle a gold necklace when she learns they are both engaged to be married. After the royal party has returned to the hunt, Hilarion emerges from Loys’ cottage with a hunting horn and a sword, further evidence that the supposed peasant is, in fact, a nobleman.
The villagers return and proclaim Giselle the queen of the Wine Festival. Hilarion interrupts to denounce Loys as an impostor. When Loys denies the charges and threatens the gamekeeper with his sword, Hilarion blows the hunting horn, a signal for the prince to return. Loys is exposed as an impostor when Bathilde reveals that he is her fiancé, Count Albrecht. The shock of learning of Albrecht’s duplicity is too great for Giselle’s frail constitution. Her mind becomes unhinged, and she dies of a broken heart—her love unrequited.
The scene is laid in a clearing in the forest near Giselle’s grave. The wilis are summoned by their queen, Myrta, to attend the ceremonies that will initiate Giselle into their sisterhood. The wilis are maidens whose fiancés failed to marry them before their deaths. Their love unrequited, they can find no rest. Their spirits are forever destined to roam the earth from midnight to dawn, vengefully trapping any male who enters their domain and forcing him to dance to his death. Hilarion, in search of Giselle, meets his death at their hands. Albrecht arrives to leave flowers on Giselle’s grave. He too is trapped and commanded to dance until death. Giselle resolves to protect him. She dances with him until the clock strikes four, at which hour the wilis lose their power. Albrecht is rescued from death.
The Washington Ballet