• Julia Sumzina

Giselle by Opéra national de Paris. The ultimate romantic ballet.

... l'histoire classique

de l'amour impossible

vole dans une brume lilas

d’une beauté très sensible.

nous sentons la folie des yeux noirs

et des larmes aux yeux couleurs de mer...

à quel point la beauté d’une douleur peut-elle être montrée,

comme la vie est éphémère.


(feb. 07. 2020)


Dorothée Gilbert and Mathieu Ganio in Giselle by Yonathan Kellerman, OnP


Today I want to continue the series of reviews on the shows by Paris Opera Ballet available for audience during the quarantine time with one of my favourite ballets ever. Giselle in the version by Patrice Bart and Eugene Polyakov – which closely follows Jean Coralli and Jules Perrot’s original choreography filmed in February 2020 is an example of a fascinating ballet performed by the highest class dancers. Now you can watch it thanks to www.operadeparis.fr and France TV.



Giselle is one of the most famous ballets around the world and considered as the ultimate romantic ballet. It has a long history from 1841 when Giselle was first performed by the Ballet du Théâtre de l'Académie Royale de Musique at the Salle Le Peletier in Paris, France, with Italian ballerina Carlotta Grisi as Giselle to the modern version by Akram Khan, which made a sensation in the ballet world in 2019.


The classical versions are still actual. The two opposite acts: with different tempo, choreography, colours, mood and atmosphere demand dancers to feel all the story inside.



The leading female principal of Paris Opera Dorothée Gilbert, the example of an ideal ballerina, performs the classical character as a real person. Her Giselle is cheerful and romantic, then vulnerable and absolutely desperate, finally loving and forgiving in the second act. Amazing technique and beauty makes her character an exemplary but at the same time Giselle is a human with passions and pain.


Dorothée Gilbert as Giselle

Albrecht is a character of Romantic era, a young nobleman in love with a peasant girl, despite being engaged to the daughter of the Duke. Mathieu Ganio shows his character charming, a little bit flirty and perfectly gallant in the best sense. He feels every state of his Albrecht and gives him that fragility and noblesse that makes the audience feel real sympathy to the character whose betrayal turns fatal for Giselle. It is impossible to speak about technique (it is a priopi perfect) when we can see all the story from the first sure steps to the final despair in the eyes of Albrecht by Mathieu Ganio.


Mathieu Ganio as Albrecht


Audric Bezard as Hilarion is bright, handsome and gives his energy to the story. His Hilarion is a worthy opponent of Albrecht, powerful and emotional character, whose sufferings are also important for the audience's perception.


Audric Bezard as Hilarion


For me this Giselle has a trio of protagonists, who make the romantic ballet story not so plain as we usually can see in classical versions. Its plot is not only about Giselle and Albrecht but also a complicated story about people's relationships where everybody is a human of flesh and blood. Paris Opera Ballet gives us the breathtaking performance with special atmosphere and aesthetics absolutely worth to see for all the ballet lovers.


Text (and poem): Julia Sumzina

Photos: Yonathan Kellerman, OnP

Illustrations: Julia Sumzina

Videos: Opéra national de Paris

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