On Thursday night I had the joy of seeing The Australian Ballet’s ‘Giselle’ at the Sydney Opera House. Put simply, it was heartbreakingly and hauntingly beautiful.
DISCLAIMER: I don’t know much about the technical aspects of ballet (I stopped taking ballet lesson at age 7 and all I can remember with any certainty is 1st position). What follows is just my response as an untutored amateur ballet watcher.
I have never seen ‘Giselle’ live before but have always want to, so when The Australia Ballet announced they were putting on a production this year of course I had to attend. Although The Australian Ballet always performs solidly, the last few ballets I watched (‘Cinderella’ in 2013, and earlier this year Graeme Murphy’s ‘Swan Lake’) left me disappointed, probably due to personal taste. [SIDE NOTE: I’ll probably post a review of Graeme Murphy’s ‘Swan Lake’ later down the track, if I can remember any of it.]
‘Giselle’ however was wonderful. The choreography was (I think) traditional. It was a relatively short ballet (only 2 hours) but every minute had me engaged. The divertissement was just enough to show off the dancers’ skills and give Giselle a breather, but not so long as to bore me into a stupor (cough’TheSleepingBeauty’cough). The music is not as memorable as anything of Tchaikovsky’s, but that’s hardly anyone’s fault. In fact the orchestra performed the score very well. Set design and lighting were suitably atmospheric – a simple bright village in Act 1, and an eerie forest in Act 2.
Most outstanding however were, naturally, the dancers. Especially the leads. The lead roles were perfectly performed by Amber Scott and Ty King-Wall, who have great chemistry. I first saw Amber Scott as Odette in ‘Swan Lake’ a few years ago and was thrilled to watch her dance – she really became Odette. In this case she really becomes Giselle, bringing to life Giselle’s delicate fragility, yet also Giselle’s vibrancy and vivacity. As a wili, Amber Scott’s Giselle was suitably ethereal. In my humble opinion, I think Amber Scott is a phenomenal ballerina – I love watching her dance!
Ty King-Wall as Count Albrecht was youthful and sympathetic, and he really showed off his athleticism too. Dimity Azoury as the Queen of the Wilis was suitably regal and her dancing is lovely. Hilarion hardly did any dancing so I don’t know why he was in the top four, but there you go. The rest of the ensemble were great. The only criticism I would make is of the Peasant pas de deux – Miwako Kubota and Brett Chynoweth didn’t appear well-partnered; they seemed to struggle through some steps, but individually they were fine.
Overall my first experience of ‘Giselle’ was wonderful. The best aspect of this production were the lead performances (which had me yelling “Bravo”). I only wish I’d taken my parents to see this instead of Graeme Murphy’s ‘Swan Lake’; I think my mum would have enjoyed it more (though when I told her this, she said “I only like the classics”. Mum, ‘Giselle’ is the classic OF the classics!).
I did come away with a nagging question though…why do people always cough during the Second Act?!