Ballet, two acts
Libretto by T.Gautier and J.Saint-Georges
Choreography by J.Perro, J.Coralli, M.Petipa and Andrei Petrov
Scenic adaption and direction by Andrei Petrov, people’s artist of Russia, Moscow Award laureate
Scene designer - Stanislav Benediktov, People’s Artist of Russia, State Award of Russia laureate
Costume designer is Olga Polyanskaya
The performance is accompanied by the Symphony Orchestra Radio Orpheus (Artistic managing director and Principal conductor - Sergey Kondrashov)
A mountain village, surrounded by forests and vineyards. Grape-pickers pass by the cottage of Berthe, a peasant woman and her daughter, Giselle.
Count Albrecht and his sword-bearer, Wilfrid, appear in the now empty glade.
Albrecht, who is in love, has come to see Giselle. He disappears into a hunting lodge.Having donned peasant costume, Albrecht knocks on Berthe’s door and then hides.
Giselle opens the door. Albrecht emerges from his hiding-place, and tenderly beckons to the girl. Wishing to put Albrecht’s feelings to the test, Giselle picks a flower and begins to pluck its petals in a game of he-loves-me-loves-me-not. The last petal turns out to be “he-loves-me-not”. Giselle begins to cry.
Albrecht picks another flower. He obtains the answer “he-loves-me”. Giselle
calms down and once again, full of hope and joy, dances with Albrecht. Suddenly Hans,the game-keeper, appears. He urges Giselle not to believe Albrecht. A furious Albrecht chases off Hans.
Village girls, Giselle’s friends, return with the grape-pickers. Surrounding her, they start to dance and Giselle joins in. but Giselle’s mother soon interferes, reminding her daughter of her weak heart. At Berthe’s insistence, the dancers disperse.
A hunting horn sounds in the distance and before long the Duke of Silesia appears with his suite, together with Bathilde, Albrecht’s betrothed. Berthe is busy preparing refreshment for the royal quests. Giselle emerges from the cottage. Bathilde is kind to the peasant girl and Giselle tells her that she is in love with a young boy. Bathilde says that she too has a betrothed and gives Giselle a necklace for her wedding. The peasants dance for the quests. Thanking them, the Duke and Bathilde go into Berthe’s
cottage to rest. But outside, the merry-making continues: the peasants are celebrating the end of the grape-harvest. They chose Giselle as the queen of the festivities.
At the height of the merry-making, a troubled Hans appears. He informs the assembled company that Albrecht is of a royal blood, not a peasant. The celebration breaks up: there is general consternation. In confirmation of his words, Hans brings out of the hunting lodge a sword encrusted with precious stones and says it belongs to Albrecht. Giselle is shaken. Albrecht tries to allay her fears. Grabbing his sword from Hans’s hands, he attacks him. Hans snatches up the hunting horn and blows on it.
Alarmed at the unexpected summons, the Duke and Bathilde come out of the cottage.
Their suite also returns.
Catching sight of Albrecht in peasant dress, his friends express their surprise,however, they greet him with due respect. Poor Giselle is tortured by the suspicion that Albrecht is not the person he makes himself out to be. And when Albrecht approaches Bathilde and kisses her hand, Giselle runs up and tries to separate them. An indignant Bathilde tells Giselle that she is engaged to Albrecht. Tearing of the necklace Bathilde has giving her, Giselle throws it on the ground and falls, sobbing, into her mother’s arms. Albrecht tries to talk to Giselle, but the latter won’t listen to him. She
goes mad. In her confused mind, she relives her moments of happiness with Albrecht: their first meeting, the “he-loves-me, loves-me-not” game, his words of love, the tender embraces…
Noticing Albrecht’s sword lying on the ground, Giselle swiftly runes
over to it and picks it up, intending to take her own life. Hans seizes the sword from her. A sudden stab of pain deprives Giselle of all her strength and she falls dead to the ground.
Night-time. A village graveyard. An inconsolable Hans has come here to mourn.
But, terrified by mysterious sounds and the shimmering lights in the marsh, he takes to his feet. The moonlight falls on shadow which looms out of the ground. It is Myrtha,
Queen of the Wilis.
Girl Wilis appear. At a sign from Myrtha, they surround Giselle’s grave and make ready to meet their new friend. Giselle’s ghostly figure rises from the mount. Myrtha waves her hand - and Giselle comes to life. A noise is heard and the Wilis run off.
Albrecht has come to the graveyard to look for the grave of the girl he loved in order to beg her forgiveness for deceiving her. Suddenly, as if out of the air, Giselle appears. Not believing his eyes, he hurries over to her. The vision vanishes. The Wilis are pursuing Hans. Dancing, the push him towards the lake. The exhausted game-keeper doesn’t have the strength to oppose them. Once they have cast him into the lake, the Wilis go off in pursuit of their next victim – Albrecht. He begs them to spare him. Myrtha
appears, she refuses to show him mercy. Witch arms held out to her loved one, Giselle runs up, meaning to lead him away. But the Queen of the Wilis orders Giselle to join her fellow Wilis who are beginning to circle in a dance. Beginning that his life be spared, Giselle conceals her beloved by standing in front of him.
But the Wilis surround Albrecht and draw him into their fatal round dance. An exhausted Albrecht falls at Myrtha’s feet. Suddenly, from beyond the graveyard, a loud clock chimes. Dawn breaks.
Daylight destroys the Wilis’s power and, merging with the pre-dawn mist, they vanish…
After his terrifying experiences of the previous night, Albrecht comes to his senses, but his love and repentance will remain with him forever.