Giselle at the Royal Opera House – rich and exultant

Balletomaniacs are not like normal people (the clue is in the name). Where theatergoers relish the prospect of a new work, the ballet crowd loves a story they can hum. Die-hard fans won’t hesitate to see a work they already know backwards three or four times in a season, either to overdose on a favorite dancer or to play Top Trumps between debuts and dances. casting changes. The latest series of 17 performances by the Royal Ballet Giselle – a work he has been dancing since 1934 – kicked off Thursday with a performance by Natalia Osipova and Reece Clarke that reminded sold-out exactly why we’re coming back for more.

Peter Wright’s 1985 production is once again beautifully polished thanks to John Macfarlane’s easel-like backdrops and a body well pierced with ghostly wilis led by Mayara Magri with truly terrifying strength. There were rough edges in the mismatched peasant no six but the strong support of Elizabeth McGorian (as the fearful mom of the heroine) and Lukas B Brændsrød as the jealous old flame that sets off the tragedy.

Osipova’s first exchanges with her mysterious aristocratic suitor could be romantic comedy scenes (the staging – chalet door top right, loveseat bottom left – is a bargain from the 1789s The poorly guarded girl). Its allure, expansive thrown, dredger round legs and lovely pirouettes show us a girl who has no idea of ​​the unhappy end that awaits her, but little by little her happiness evaporates as her lover’s perfidy becomes clear.

As the indulgent phantom of act two, his detailed reading is again underpinned by his phenomenal technique: fierce leaps and turns, unshakeable balances, the fearless ticking of the stop-arabesque leg on image, all of them embody her determination to save her lover’s soul. . Boris Gruzin’s tempi are disconcertingly icy in places but this gives us more time to admire his languid phrasing and slow motion. developed.

Clarke and Osipova form a character duo © Alice Pennefather

In January 2021, Reece Clarke was Osipova’s last minute partner in John Cranko’s Onegin – the partner ballet acid test – but tonight proved that the 26-year-old Scottish first soloist is much more than a sure pair of hands. His height (6ft 3), good looks, and instinctive upright demeanor set him apart as an aristocrat among the bustling peasantry, but Clarke doesn’t just pull on his handcuffs (as Albrechts so often does). Her clear, unhurried mime is almost audible and her manners are carefully calibrated, the ardor and height of the opening flirtations freezing in despair and self-loathing during Osipova’s heartbreaking mad scene.

Clarke’s dance has never been so beautiful but, like Osipova, he takes care to put technique at the service of character. The aerial jumps of the first act were the perfect expression of what August Bournonville called “manly joy of living”. In act II the avenger wilis almost dancing it to death – these quirky turns in the air show us a man on the brink – but Giselle urges him to trigger an exhilarating streak of indefatigable entrechats six. No wonder we keep coming back.


As of December 3,

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