Australian Dance Reviews

Paris Opera Ballet’s ‘Giselle’

Capitol Theatre, Sydney
January 29 2012

By Kristy Johnson.

The 29th of January saw the triumphant return of the Paris Opera Ballet to the Capitol Theatre in Sydney for the first time since its Australian debut in 2007. The legendary ballet company lived up to its reputation in the production of Giselle.

Founded in 1661, the Paris Opera Ballet holds an unbroken tradition of showcasing brilliant performances, producing what you would call ‘perfect dancers’ and exceptional choreographers. Quite arguably the best in the business, they provide a benchmark for ballet viewing.

Giselle, the quintessential romantic ballet, tells the tale of an innocent country girl. When betrayed by her lover, the girl dies and joins other ladies similarly deceived in a spirit world where she is able to save her lover’s life through her love for him.

Set to a score by the Sydney Lyric Orchestra, the production remained close to its traditional values in set design, costumes and the ambience of the evening. Every audience member was on their feet to sing the Australian and French national anthems, prior to the opening scene.

The first scene opened to a leafy autumnal glade, providing a sense of warmth and homeliness that was quite inviting. As the tale unfolded, we saw the second half delve into the spirit world amongst a dark set and ghost-like dancers.

Professional ballet dancers are known to make the most difficult of movements appear effortless, and there was nothing you could fault in the dancing of the Paris Opera. Soloists were right on the mark with incredible elevation, execution and technique. There were often gasps from the crowd at the expertise shown by the dancers.

It seems impossible to think of anything negative or critical of the performance. In fact, I can’t even pinpoint one aspect. It was simply breathtaking, and ballet at its best.

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