Kulturkompasset | critics of culture events



The Stars, Principal Dancers and Corps de Ballet
With the participation of Svetlana Zakharova and FRIEDEMANN VOGEL (picture) 3, 4 and 6 February 2015

The Ballet of La Scala in Milan is back in Paris after 13 years!

Review by Henning Høholt

PARIS/FRANCE: The 2015 event: La Scala in Milan, with its world famous Ballet, will perform with the orchestra on stage at the Palais des Congrès in Paris in interpreting the leader of romantic work: Giselle.

Jean Coralli – Jules Perrot: Choreography
Yvette Chauviré: Revised Choreography
Adolphe Adam: Music
Patrick Fournillier: Conductor

Giselle in Paris with Ballet from La Scala Opera in Milano.

More than any other, this ballet Giselle is able to tell a story and to transport the imagination. It is the dream of a poet. A peasant girl, seduced by a nobleman sees his disappointed love and his life changed tragically.

The beautiful loses the reason (the famous “mad scene” artistic achievement for ballerinas), collapses and dies. Giselle then joined the Wilis, the spirits of those brides betrayed, gathering dark to hunt down the men mercilessly. During his two acts, Giselle takes the audience from the carefree gaiety to despair of the mysterious and shadowy world of the supernatural.

For me as international ballet- and operacritic it was wonderful to enjoy this event in Paris, and to see how fascinated the audience who filled up the very large auditorium in Palais des Congresat Porte de Maillot in Paris for a completely classical ballet, with no fixfax to try to get the audience innside.

Svetlana Zakharova, after Giselle, foto Henning Høholt, Paris 2015-02-04

This underlines my idea of that to show a performance in the “original” old fashion way, inspires the audience, they get an idea of what this history is all about, and when we the have two of the worlds most outstanding dancers on stage Svetlana Zakharova, star from Bolshoi in Moscow, perhaps to day the leading ballerina in the world, together with her beautiful handsome and elegant partner Friedemann Vogel from the Stuttgart Ballet, then it is a success. The applause wouldn´t stop.

The second act, with 28 white dressed ballerinas on stage did it. In the middle the extraordinary good footwork of Svetlana Zakharova was amasing, specially in the pas de deux, where she is moving around the sitting Prince Albrecht – Friedemann Vogel, she showed an elegance, that I have never seen on stage before. Vogel has an extraordinary stage presence, and his detailed foot work his wonderful high and long jumps are breathtaking. He is a perfect partner for Zakharova.

The ballet is about a peasant girl named Giselle who dies of a heart failure after discovering her lover is betrothed to another. The Wilis, a group of supernatural women who dance men to death, summon Giselle from her grave. They target her lover for death, but Giselle’s great love frees him from their grasp.

Giselle was first performed by the Ballet du Théatre de l´Académie Royale de Musique at the Salle Le Peletier in France, on Sunday 28 June 1841. The opening night was a triumph for both critics and the public. The ballet became hugely popular. It was staged across Europe, Russia, and the United States almost immediately after its debut.

Friedemann Vogel after Giselle, 2015-02-04. Foto Henning Høholt

The brilliant conductor Patrick Fournillier lifted the well known music of Adolphe Adam to extraordinary hight. I was also very amazed about his clear and good tempi, and how precise he di the tempo changes from slow to fast, and how well the company and soloists were prepared and enjoyed it. This made the many demanding parts and details work extra well.

Adolphe Adam was a popular writer of ballet and opera music in early 19th-century France. He wrote with great speed. He completed Giselle in about two months.  The music was written in the smooth, song-like style of the day called cantilena. This style is well known to music lovers from Bellini’s opera Norma and Donizetti´s Lucia di Lammermoor.  Some of the parts are very wellknown in the ballet world.

The composer Adolphe Adam used several leitmotifs in the ballet. A leitmotif is a short musical phrase that is associated with a certain character, event, or idea. Adam’s leitmotifs are heard several times throughout the ballet. A leitmotif is associated with Giselle, and another with Albrecht. Hilarion’s motif marks his every entrance. It suggests the Fate theme in Beethoven´s Fifth Symphony.

Adolphe Adam, the composer of the famouse and well known music for Giselle, about 1835

Another leitmotif is associated with the “he loves me, he loves me not” flower test in Act 1. This leitmotif is heard again in the mad scene, and in Act 2 when Giselle offers flowers to Albrecht. The Wilis have their own motif. It is heard in the overture, in Act 1 when Berthe tells the story of the Wilis, and in the mad scene. It is heard again in Act 2 when the Wilis make their first entrance. The hunting horn motif marks sudden surprises. This motif is heard when Albrecht is exposed as a nobleman

The Queen of the Wilis danced her long opening soslo in second act beautifully. In the first act the Pas de deux, was beautiful made. Unfortunately we have not received any up todate cast list from La Scala Milano. What a pitty. As they deserved to have their names on this review.

The corps de ballet in the first act as peasant boys and girls in national costumes did a splendid job, good lines, excellent details. And the 26 Willies in the second act were brilliant, in fact some of the best I remember I have seen for a long time.

The traditional scenography was beautiful with great side and back curtains with artictic painted deepness, telling that we were in the autumn. A good frame around the first act.  Costumes were too traditionally, but gives Giselle the right historical bakcground, so the audience can understand the deepness of the wonderful love history, where first act unfortunately ends catastrophically, but where Giselle in the second act through her love to prowes, that you can still belive in Love.

After Giselle with La Scala Ballet, Milano in Paris, from left Svetlana Makvarova, Patrick Fournillier. Friedemann Vogel, foto Henning Høholt

Giselle was created at the Paris Opera June 28, 1841, in a choreography of the Opera ballet master Jean Coralli, Jules Perrot and on a magnificent score by Adolphe Adam.

In the resumption of Yvette Chauviré that even she performed her version of Giselle at La Scala in 1950, this choreography depicts the tragic emotion of a love that transcends death.

In this ballet company of La Scala offers a timeless tale, enhanced by the beautiful costumes and sets Aleksandr Benois, which is why it is often chosen to represent the company at international tours, most recently in Oman, Brazil and Hong Kong.

The Ballet of La Scala was born with the famous Teatro alla Scala, inaugurated in 1778. The ballet masters, choreographers, artists and directors who have succeeded, have forged the outstanding reputation of the company, directed from 2009 Makhar Vaziev.

Of course when it is celebrityes on stage, also ballet celebrityes among the audience, here is Friedemann Vogel being congratulated after the performance by the former big star from The Paris Opera Ballet, Gilbert Meyer and Mrs Meyer, Balletchief Alexander Hoffmann from United Dance Company behind a famouse dancer himself, known for his collaboration by Carla Fracci and others. Foto Henning Høholt. 2015-02-04

There is a very special link between Paris and La Scala, in fact, it was in Paris in 1878 was the site of the first tour of the Teatro alla Scala, with the organization of concerts at the Trocadero. It is also at the Paris Opera La Scala moves for the first time with all of its production in 1909 in order to interpret the Vestal. Since 1878, the La Scala Ballet had only once went to Paris in 2002, its arrival thus marks 2015 as a real event in France.

After this guesting, I sincerelly hope that Ballet from La Scala in Mlan will visit Paris again soon, as this was a success, and a great pleasure also to enjoy how good the quality of the ballet company is right now.

Giselle by La Scala Milan, is the must appointment for the ballet year in Paris.


Tonight Svetlana Zakharova and Friedemann Vogel are dancing the two leading roles as Giselle and Albrecht.

Svetlana Zakharova, after Giselle 04.02.2015 together with editor and critic Henning Høholt from Kulturkompasset, Paris.

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