April 12–14, 2019

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Fierce love, betrayal and dance.

One of the most prolific and popular ballets of all time, Giselle tells the story of a peasant girl who descends into madness and ultimately dies of a broken heart after learning that her beloved is betrothed to someone else. With elements of the supernatural and incredibly technical and emotional dancing, this important piece of art is a visual treat for Memphis. "A must-see ballet"—Cennarium America

Friday, Apr 12, 7:30p
Saturday, Apr 13, 7:30p
Sunday, Apr 14, 2p


Set in the Middle Ages, this two-act ballet premiered at the Salle Le Peletier in Paris on Monday, June 28, 1842. Carlotta Grisi, a prima ballerina hailing from Italy, performed in the title role. This was an instant hit and made its way across Europe. However, the version choreographed by Marius Petipa during the turn of the twentieth century is the one that is frequently revised today. The tragic story of Giselle has been one of the most popular ballets for over 150 years. The role of Giselle demands much of the ballerina both technically and artistically. Giselle, a poor country maiden, falls madly in love with a young man, a prince parading as a commoner. After learning of this deception, Giselle takes her life and is transformed into a Wili (a ghost). When all the Wilis try to revenge her lost love, Giselle defends her former love, saving his life and earning eternal peace. This ballet is the ultimate story of love and forgiveness.

One of the most beloved works from the classical repertoire, Giselle is a challenging undertaking for any company... a visual feast, featuring stunning costumes, evocative lighting and gorgeous scenery.
Jeffrey Ellis, Broadway World


ACT 1:

The story begins as the townspeople of a medieval German village prepare to celebrate the recent grape harvest. Giselle, a beautiful peasant girl with a feeble heart, lives in the village with her protective mother, Berthe. The local gameskeeper, Hilarion, is enamored with Giselle and hopes to dance with her at the festival and then to someday marry her. But during one of his hunting excursions, Prince Albrecht likewise becomes enthralled with Giselle. He decides to disguise himself as a peasant named Loys in order to pursue her, even though he is already betrothed to the Duchess Bathilde.

Unbeknownst to Berthe, Giselle meets the disguised Albrecht, and the two fall in love. They dance together at the festival and pledge their love before being interrupted by a jealous Hilarion. Albrecht ultimately chases him away before the villagers arrive to dance and celebrate. Berthe chastises Giselle for dancing as it is sinful and may threaten her weak heart. Berthe reminds her daughter of the Wilis, the demonic spirits of virgin brides who die before their wedding day, fated to rise from their graves and kill any man who wanders into the woods.

As Bathilde approaches the festival accompanied by her father, the Duke, the disguised Albrecht runs off, lest he be discovered. Giselle and Bathilde are drawn to each other, and each shares that she is in love and engaged. As a sign of affection for the girl, Bathilde gives Giselle a necklace before departing.

Hilarion discovers that Loys is a nobleman, and he interrupts the festival carrying Albrecht’s discovered sword. Hilarion uses a hunting horn to summon the hunting party, and Bathilde and her father return to discover Albrecht dressed as a peasant. She declares that she is betrothed to Albrecht, devastating Giselle.

Giselle descends into madness and as her mother tries to console her, the feelings of grief and betrayal consume her and she dies of a broken heart.

ACT 2:

Giselle is buried in unconsecrated ground in the dark forest where the Wilis are known to gather. Legend has it that any man caught in the forest between midnight and dawn will be captured by the Wilis’ spell and forced to dance to his death. A grieving Hilarion visits Giselle’s grave before realizing it is near midnight; he quickly flees after placing a wooden cross. Myrtha, Queen of the Wilis, appears. She summons the Wilis and uses a branch of rosemary to remind each spirit of the men who betrayed their love. As Myrtha announces the arrival of the newest Wili, Giselle is called from her grave to be initiated into their group.

Suddenly the guilty and grief-stricken Albrecht emerges from the woods and kneels before Giselle’s grave. Her ghost appears and he runs to follow her apparition. Hilarion returns and is ensnared by the Wilis and is forced to dance to his death. Myrtha discovers Albrecht. She casts a spell to hold him in her power. Giselle appears before Albrecht and instructs him to go to her grave and hold onto the cross as protection from the Wilis. Giselle pleads with Myrtha to free Albrecht but she refuses and instead forces Giselle to dance. Albrecht, unable to resist Giselle’s beauty, leaves the protection of the cross and dances once again with her.

But as dawn appears, he realizes that he is saved as the Wilis must depart. Giselle must depart as well, and as she accepts her fate as a Wili, she slowly disappears into her grave.

Act 1 Cast

Giselle: Virginia Pilgrim Ramey

Albrecht: Brandon Ramey

Wilfred, Albrecht’s Squire: Richard Pena/Nathanael Santiago

Hilarion: Ricardo Dyer

Berthe: Gabriela Moros-Diaz

Duke: Steven McMahon

Bathilde: Julie Marie Niekrasz

Peasant Pas de Quatre: Oscar Fernandez, Eileen Frazer, Cecily Khuner, Ryan Nicolas

Female Peasants: Iori Araya, Felecia Baker, Ashley Hannah Davis, Alexis Hedge, Lilit Hogtanian, Mei Kotani, Lydia McRae, Nicole Zadra, Sydney Hall, Leah Slavens, Devin Larsen, Beth Ann Maslinoff Male Peasants: Jonathan David Dummar, Pablo Sanchez, Nathanael Santiago/Richard Pena, George WN Sanders

Court: Anwen David, Anna Stewart, Jeff Pressly, Nick Nesmith, Meg McCord, Mike McCord, and their Irish Wolfhound Aedan

Act 2 Cast

Giselle: Virginia Pilgrim Ramey

Albrecht: Brandon Ramey

Hilarion: Ricardo Dyer

Myrtha: Crystal Brothers

Moyna and Zulme: Lilit Hogtanian and Mei Kotani

Wilis: Iori Araya, Felecia Baker, Ashley Hannah Davis, Eileen Frazer, Alexis Hedge, Cecily Khuner, Lydia McRae, Nicole Zadra, Sydney Hall, Leah Slavens, Devin Larsen, Beth Ann Maslinoff

"[Giselle is a top-three must see ballet because] the whole thing from the music to the choreography to the costumes to everything is done so incredibly well."—Misty Copeland (see her rehearsing the lead role at

"Considered one of the most popular ballets, Giselle is usually staged somewhere almost all of the time. The romantic ballet has attracted the best dancers in its leading roles since its creation. Giselle's ballet-blanc, or corps of women in white, has become a symbol of classical ballet—

"One of the most sought after roles of all time for a ballet dancer is the title character in this classic. Based on the poem of Heinrich Heine, it is about a young peasant girl named Giselle, who meets a nobleman dressed as a commoner and falls in love with him, not knowing that he is of noble birth. "

Adolphe Charles Adam (French: ; 24 July 1803 – 3 May 1856) was a French composer and music critic. A prolific composer of operas and ballets, he is best known today for his ballets Giselle (1841) and Le corsaire (1856, his last work), his operas Le postillon de Lonjumeau (1836), Le toréador (1849) and Si j'étais roi (1852) and his Christmas carol Minuit, chrétiens! (1844), later set to different English lyrics and widely sung as "O Holy Night" (1847). Adam was a noted teacher, who taught Delibes and other influential composers.

The idea for the ballet Giselle originated with French poet and novelist Théophile Gautier, who took an interest in German poet Heinrich Heine’s retelling of a Slavic legend concerning the wilis, ghostly spirits of girls who have died before their wedding day. Gautier imagined a version in which a girl betrayed by her beloved dies of a broken heart but returns as a spirit to save him from retribution by the vengeful wilis. Her merciful act saves her from becoming a wili herself.

Gautier took his idea to the Paris Opéra, where a new Italian dancer, Carlotta Grisi, had recently been so well received that the management wanted to feature her in a ballet as soon as possible. The proposal for a ballet with a young heroine seemed perfectly suited to Grisi’s talents, and a libretto was commissioned from Jules-Henri Vernoy de Saint-Georges. Adam was quickly recruited for the new ballet, having written for the Paris Opéra before. Work on the score and its choreography began at once; Giselle made its debut two months later. The original ballet, called a ballet pantomime, devoted almost half the performance time to mime and action scenes that drove the story’s plot, but many 20th-century productions shortened or completely eliminated most of those, focusing on the dance sequences. By the early 21st century a return to the original performance practice had begun.

Of particular musical interest are the jolly hunting music in Act 1, rich with horns and scurrying strings; the tumultuous finale to Act 1, in which Giselle loses her mind and dies; the mysterious music of the wilis in Act 2, in which strings and woodwinds evoke the light-footed spirits; and the alternately triumphant and serene finale at sunrise.