Pacific Northwest Ballet presents Giselle
Pacific Northwest Ballet Artistic Director Peter Boal’s radiant, historically informed production of Giselle drew international accolades when it premiered in 2011. PNB’s production marked the first time an American ballet company had based a production on Stepanov notation as well as the first use in modern times of the rare French sources for Giselle. PNB brought Giselle back in 2014, newly adorned in luxurious 19th century costumes and scenery, conceived and designed by Jérôme Kaplan (Don Quixote, Roméo et Juliette). It was scheduled to be presented again in the spring of 2020, but, well, you know what happened. PNB is thrilled to finally bring Giselle back to the stage for eight performances, February 3 – 12 at Seattle Center’s Marion Oliver McCaw Hall.
Widely acknowledged as the greatest ballet of the Romantic era, Giselle tells the story of a peasant girl who dies of a broken heart after her fiancé is revealed to be a nobleman in disguise. In death, she joins the ranks of the Wilis, supernatural maidens who died before their wedding days and are doomed to take their revenge on men for eternity. In a miraculous display of love beyond the grave, Giselle saves her betrothed from certain death at the hands of her ghostly sisters.
Pacific Northwest Ballet’s production of Giselle has been staged by PNB Artistic Director Peter Boal, utilizing primary sources from Paris and St. Petersburg, with the assistance of dance historians Marian Smith and Doug Fullington, and drawing on the rich tradition of Giselle performances throughout the twentieth century and to the present day.
“Marvelous. The most striking thing about Pacific Northwest Ballet’s new Giselle is how it teems with life. The world of Giselle and her tragic story comes newly and vividly alive.” — Dancing Times (UK)
The sources utilized for Pacific Northwest Ballet’s Giselle include a rehearsal score (répétiteur) that may have been prepared in Paris, circa 1842, to assist in the staging of Giselle in St. Petersburg that year. The répétiteur includes detailed information relating to the action of the ballet and how it relates to the score by French composer Adolphe Adam. Another primary French source is a complete notation of Giselle likely made in the 1850s by Henri Justamant. This elaborate notation surfaced in the early 2000s in a private collection in Germany and has since been published.
The other important source is a choreographic notation made in St. Petersburg, circa 1899–1903. This notation was made using the Stepanov notation system developed in St. Petersburg in the early 1890s. The production represents French choreographer Marius Petipa’s version of Giselle that was based on the original Paris production, choreographed by Jean Coralli and Jules Perrot. The Stepanov notation of Giselle was used in the West for historic stagings by Paris Opéra Ballet and the Vic-Wells Ballet (now the Royal Ballet).
For additional information about PNB’s unique production of Giselle, including extensive program notes and a full synopsis by Marian Smith and Doug Fullington, visit PNB.org/Giselle.
Tickets start at just $37. The program will also stream digitally from February 16 through 20. Tickets for the digital access are $35. For tickets and additional information, contact the PNB Box Office at 206.441.2424, in person at 301 Mercer Street, or online 24/7 at PNB.org.