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Review: Giselle at the Birmingham Hippodrome

The jury’s still out on whether Adolphe Adam’s imperishable masterpiece is the first recognisable narrative ballet – before this I believe there were Versailles–style entertainments cobbled together from various tableaux, the result episodic entertainments of music and dance though unlinked by plot and focusing on spectacle.

But in Giselle we have Adolphe Adam’s magically overarching score linking together one of the most perfect, profound and movingly artistic creations of all time.

Birmingham Royal Ballet's Giselle
Birmingham Royal Ballet’s Giselle

I must confess I’ve had a passion for Giselle ever since I discovered it in an old seventies video starring Lynn Seymour as Giselle and crucially, Nureyev as Albrecht.

But this Birmingham Royal Ballet production brings its own special magic that gives a thrilling new look to this nearly 200 year old masterpiece.

Giselle has got to be the most powerfully and realistically tragic work, even now, of its genre.

Love and especially death, this ballet’s great subject ruled in an age where consumption, especially of tight lacing young girls, ran rife.

What’s not to like? Especially here, with the marvellous Cesar Morales (I can still see his sublime Symphony Hall Spectre de la Rose leap) as the arrogant Count Albrecht whose regular slumming turns into heartbreaking regret, while the demise of Momoko Hirata’s marvellous Giselle fully merits the hopelessness her fate signifies.

I can’t bear to spoil the plot if it’s your first time, so I’ll just say this tale of tragic love stretching even beyond the grave is quite simply world class, and BRB’s new production is frankly one of the most profound and moving I have ever seen.

What we’re talking about here is star quality, not just in the marvellous principals but also in Marion Tate as Giselle’s mother, Kit Holder’s tragically dignified Giselle’s fiancée Hilarion, and a welcome return of BRB favourite Rory Mackay.

Add in the marvellous corps de ballet, the sets, the lighting, the costumes, and above all the marvellously descriptive score and you’ve got a truly marvellous production of Adams’s immortal masterpiece.

Don’t miss it.

Giselle runs at Birmingham Hippodrome until tomorrow (28th September). For tickets go online at birminghamhippodrome.com or contact the box office on 0844 338 700.

A volunteer wrote this. Say thanks with a coffee.

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