Sir Peter Wright’s Giselle Returns to Sarasota
17 – 18 December 2021 at the Van Wezel Performing Arts Hall
This December, The Sarasota Ballet observes the winter holiday season by gifting Sarasota a cherished Romantic classic—Sir Peter Wright’s production of Giselle. Performing 17 – 18 December at the Van Wezel Performing Arts Hall and with accompaniment by the Sarasota Orchestra, Giselle is a treasured gem of ballet repertoire and is considered by many to be the crowning achievement of the Romantic era of ballet—with Sir Peter Wright’s production receiving significant acclaim for its authenticity and characterization. This year also marks two major anniversaries for Giselle: first, the 180th anniversary of the world premiere of the ballet, originally choreographed by Jules Perrot and Jean Coralli and with music by Adolphe Adam; and second, the 95th birthday of Sir Peter Wright, whose dedication to coaching dancers, including Assistant Director of The Sarasota Ballet Margaret Barbieri in the role of Giselle, has perpetuated a lineage of artistry spanning nearly two centuries.
“From its romanticism through to its drama and tragedy, Giselle creates an extraordinary world on stage that provides audiences with mesmerizing choreography and enthralling storytelling,” says Iain Webb, Director of The Sarasota Ballet. “Sir Peter’s production of Giselle captures the beauty of this beloved classic, while bringing genuine humanity to its multitude of characters, conveying the ballet’s intense emotions in a way that can truly resonate with audiences.”
The rich and storied history of Giselle is rooted in two works of literature – Victor Hugo’s “Fantômes” and Heinrich Heine’s De l’Allemagne; these served as the basis for the first and second acts, respectively, of the original Giselle libretto written by Jules-Henri Vernoy de Saint-Georges and Théophile Gautier. Adolphe Adam composed the music for Giselle in the cantilena style, a fluid, song-like genre popular at the time. The choreography for the original Giselle, created by Jean Coralli and Jules Perrot, had Italian ballet dancer Carlotta Grisi in mind for the titular role; she would go on to dance in the ballet’s premiere on June 28, 1841 with the Paris Opera Ballet. Giselle was immediately successful, hailed by many as the greatest ballet of its time, and has since become one of the hallmarks of the Romantic era of classical ballet. Sir Peter Wright’s production, premiered in Stuttgart in 1965, draws directly from the original narrative and is considered by many to be one of the most authentic productions. It was when Wright’s production premiered at the Royal Opera House in London, that Margaret Barbieri first performed the role of Giselle. At the time Barbieri was a third-year corps de ballet dancer with The Royal Ballet Touring Company under the direction of John Field, and with the guiding hand of Field, Wright, and Dame Ninette de Valois, this first performance would spark Barbieri’s long and acclaimed dance career. Performing the role of Giselle with The Royal Ballet and numerous international companies, she established herself as one of the most prominent Giselles of her era.
“My experiences with the role of Giselle were among my most treasured during my career as a dancer,” says Barbieri. “From taking to the stage as Giselle in my first principal role, through growing to find a deeper understanding of the character over hundreds of performances over the years, to now transferring that knowledge to another generation of dancers, I have kept Sir Peter’s Giselle close to my heart. It has been a true joy to coach dancers in this role, and to see the culmination of the coaching process as each dancer builds upon the experience of countless Giselles and adds their personal touch, keeping a 180-year lineage alive and vibrant.”
The Sarasota Ballet’s performances of Giselle will be accompanied by the Sarasota Orchestra, led by Guest Conductor Jared Oaks, Music Director of Ballet West.
Performance Schedule and Ticket Information
17 – 18 December 2021
Van Wezel Performing Arts Hall
Friday, 17 December 2021 at 7:30 PM
Saturday, 18 December 2021 at 2:00 PM
Saturday, 18 December 2021 at 7:30 PM
Production by Sir Peter Wright
Original Choreography by Jules Perrot and Jean Coralli
Music by Adolphe Adam
Subscriptions and Packages to The Sarasota Ballet’s 2021 - 2022 Season are on sale now, beginning at $120. For information, please visit www.SarasotaBallet.org or call the box office at 941.359.0099, Monday through Friday, 10am to 4pm.
Individual tickets for Giselle, starting at $30, are on sale now at www.SarasotaBallet.org or by calling 941.359.0099.