Saturday, 22 January 2011

Death Becomes Her - Giselle, Royal Ballet, ROH 19/1/11

Deep are the satisfactions to be found in Giselle currently playing at the Royal Opera House until next month. Set designer John Macfarlaine’s pastoral setting for the maid’s cottage in the first act is little more than a rustic clearing on the edge of an engulfing wood. While his Second Act places Giselle’s grave in a post-apocalyptic blasted forest of tumbled trunks and mangled roots. These are the romantically sublime backdrops for ballet’s first tale of tragic love - nature rendered as a diabolical twin to our heart's own darkness.

Last night’s leads - Leanne Benjamin (Giselle) and Edward Watson (Albrecht) – were a couple we’d instantly place together. Which deepens our shock at Albrecht’s deceit – his two-timing of Giselle with another. These are young lovers who belong together making Giselle’s breakdown and death – a frenzy of tumbling hair, head-clasping bowed stillness as compelling as it is understandable.

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