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The most dramatic and beautiful of ballets - Giselle

26 September 2012

The most dramatic and beautiful of ballets Giselle – The RNZB’s major new production

A high-profile new staging of Giselle, performed by the Royal New Zealand Ballet, will premiere in Wellington on 7 November ahead of a seven centre tour.

Ethan Stiefel, RNZB Artistic Director, will co-produce The TelstraClear Season of Giselle, with Johan Kobborg, internationally acclaimed Principal Dancer of London’s Royal Ballet.

“In addition to being an exceptional dancer and actor, Johan is a gifted choreographer, who has created productions for both The Royal Ballet and the Bolshoi, amongst other renowned companies,” says Mr Stiefel.

Giselle is one of the great Romantic ballets, and it’s truly inspiring to collaborate with my good friend. We are delighted to have the chance to present our version of a ballet we both know very well,” says Mr Stiefel.

Both Ethan Stiefel and Johan Kobborg are noted performers of the leading male role in Giselle: Albrecht, who betrays the innocent village girl Giselle and causes her death, only to be protected by her spirit beyond the grave.

Prima ballerina Gillian Murphy, RNZB Principal Guest Artist and star of American Ballet Theatre, will dance the role of Giselle. In her extensive dance career, Gillian has never before danced this role, known to be the one of the most demanding and dramatic in the classical ballet repertoire.

Wonderfully passionate, Giselle is a story of how the power of forgiveness and redemption can overcome the anguish of love and betrayal. The story unfolds against the ghostly backdrop of a forest haunted by ’Wilis‘: vengeful spirits of abandoned brides.

First staged in Paris in 1841, Giselle is one of the oldest surviving ballets still in the international repertory. The music by Adolphe Adam (1803-1856) is one of the first full-length ballet scores ever to be composed.

The score, performed live by the Vector Wellington Orchestra in Wellington and the Auckland Philharmonia Orchestra in Auckland, will be conducted by leading British conductor Michael Lloyd.

Russian ballet dancer turned costume designer Natalia Stewart has designed the costumes. She trained at the London College of Fashion and has collaborated with Johan Kobborg before on several of his productions. American scenic designer Howard C Jones has created a picturesque village and eerie graveyard settings, while New York lighting designer Kendall Jones will light the production.

“This will be the company’s first staging of Giselle since 2006 and Ethan has assembled a hugely gifted creative team to showcase our talented dancers. Giselle includes some of the most beautiful and iconic scenes from the classical repertoire and I’m sure all audience members will be moved by this emotional love story,” says Amanda Skoog, Managing Director.

TelstraClear Season of Giselle tour dates:
Wellington: 7-11 November, St James Theatre
Featuring Wellington Vector Orchestra

Christchurch: 15 – 17 November, CBS Arena

Invercargill: 20 & 21 November, Civic Theatre

Dunedin: 24 & 25 November, Regent Theatre

Auckland: 29 November – 2 December, ASB Theatre
Featuring Auckland Philharmonia Orchestra

Rotorua: 5 December, Civic Theatre

Napier: 8 & 9 December, Napier Municipal Theatre

Palmerston North: 12 December, Regent on Broadway

Approximate running time: 2 hours, including 1 interval
Casting note: As with all RNZB productions, there are several casts. Gillian Murphy will alternate the role of Giselle with other leading RNZB dancers. Casting will be made available in late October.

Giselle is often regarded as the quintessential Romantic ballet. The scenario for Giselle was provided by the poet and novelist Théophile Gautier (1811 – 1872) with the assistance of the dramatist Vernoy de St Georges. It contains many of the features that have become hallmarks of classical ballet, including technically challenging pas de deux and solos for the main characters, mime sequences, extended passages of dancing en pointe, and a corps de ballet dressed in long white tutus.

Royal New Zealand Ballet (RNZB):
Founded in 1953 and now based at Wellington’s St James Theatre, the Royal New Zealand Ballet is an intrinsic part of New Zealand’s national heritage, and has the largest following of all New Zealand performing arts companies. The RNZB enjoys a reputation for strong and unique interpretations of full-length dramatic works. To this base have been added the masterworks and major ballets of the 20th century, such as Balanchine's works and the Stravinsky ballets, and the company has an enviable track record in commissioning new works from New Zealand and international choreographers. The RNZB regularly represents New Zealand on the international stage, with recent tours to the UK, Australia and China.

The TelstraClear Season of Giselle
Wellington, Christchurch, Invercargill, Dunedin, Auckland, Rotorua, Napier and Palmerston North
7 November – 12 December 2012


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