Writer: Adolphe Adam
Director: Marina Medvetskaya
Conductor: Vadim Perevoznikov
Reviewer: Nicole Evans
Often billed as one of the few remaining Romantic ballets to survive intact, Giselle tells the somewhat tragic story of a German peasant girl who falls in love with a duke who has chosen to disguise not only his wealthbut also the fact he is betrothed to another. After successfully wooing Giselle, despite her mother’s warnings that her passion for the duke and her dancing will kill her, and the pair enjoying a fleeting courtship, his real identity is disclosed by a jealous love rival, who also vies for Giselle’s attentions. The upset of the situation is simply too much and shock and fatally strikes – sending Giselle to the world of the Wilis, which is where Act Two begins.
The subtly extravagant backdrops almost go unnoticed during the first act but once transported to the supernatural world, the glittering wonder of painted trees with leaves you feel as though you could reach out and pick and the shimmering, moon-lit stream are simply staggering on the Derngate stage. The rest is left up to the dancers and the Hungarian Sinfonietta orchestra, the latter stealing the show. Faultlessly executed compositions and perfectly synchronised suspense makefor an effortless, charming accompaniment which at times is more enjoyable than the ballet itself.
Saint Petersburg Classic Ballet sadly doesn’t quite succeed in portraying themselves as a leading ballet company in this performance. Leading lady Natalya Romanova as Giselle is weak at times and although her talents do begin to shine through during the more showcase-like sections of the second act, she never quite hits the point of giving the audience the wow-factor, faltering on a few turns and losing time with her partner on occasion. Overshadowing her completely, although still not up to full speed, is Viktoria Pishkova as one-half of the Pas de deux – it is difficult to understand why she isn’t dancing the part of Giselle instead. Her graceful leaps and her perfect pointes and pirouettes combined with her partner, Andrei Djula, are a mesmerising pleasure to watch.
The group numbers thankfully save the day with their delightful routines and professional personas. The betrothed spirits scene particularly impresses with skill, beautifully designed costumes and excellent timing on display.
As the two love rivals visit Giselle’s grave, we finally get to see a little more than walking from Vadim Lolenko as Albrecht. Utterly staggering flexibility follows and we get an, albeit far too brief, glimpse of what he is really capable of – again we are left wondering why he didn’t get to tackle a more prominent part.
Giselle itself is certainly in no danger of losing its charm, but the Saint Petersburg Classic Ballet really doesn’t do the tragic love story the justice it deserves. It needs far more flair than the dancers seem to have in them and just doesn’t provide enough to allow you to connect with the characters and become one with the story that is unfolding. Somewhat disappointing.
Runs until 12 January 2016 | Image: Contributed