A girl can't have the high-born man of her dreams, so she makes a bargain with a mysterious being, dabbles in the supernatural, or may have been supernatural all along, and the whole lot doesn't come to a good end. On Broadway we had The Little Mermaid, at the opera it is Rusalka, and in the ballet world it is Giselle.
Sarasota Ballet closed out its 2018-19 season with a cornerstone of the classic ballet repertoire, Adolphe Adam's Giselle in a production choreographed by Sir Peter Wright who was in attendance on the evening I attended. The production originated at Stuttgart Ballet in 1966 and was first offered by Sarasota Ballet in 2009. The choreography is meant to replicate the original of 1841, choreographed by Jean Coralli and Jules Perrot.
Danced in beautiful uncredited sets with eye-popping, also uncredited costumes, Sarasota Ballet rose to the challenge of this work. All the principals were at their best and the corps de ballet showed great improvement from a November performance, seen but not reviewed. Here, they looked like part of a first rate company on the rise, which Sarasota Ballet is.
Giselle has been one of the greatest roles for many of the star ballerinas in history. Victoria Hulland was lovely and girlish in the first act and powerfully emotional in the second act, as one of the Wilis, the spirits of rejected brides. The object of her desire, Count Albrecht, was danced by Ricardo Graziano. In the second act when Myrtha, Queen of the Wilis, danced by Amy Wood, and later Giselle attempted to dance him to his death, he fought back and in the end remained alive. Ricki Bertoni, who lately has been doing mostly character dancing, played Hilarion, Giselle's suitor from her own class. It was nice to see him reminding us that he is a fine dancer as well. I remember him as a very moving Petrushka.
There was nice character work from Sarah Krazit as Giselle's mother Berthe, Richard House as The Duke of Courland, and especially Ellen Overstreet as Bathilde, his daughter and Albrecht's betrothed. All three mimed well to define their social positions, which drives the first act story. Kate Honea, Samantha Benoit, Asia Bui, Thomas Giugovaz, Ivan Duarte and Filippo Valmorbida were friends of Giselle who danced the Pas de Six, which was exuberant to say the least.
All of the dancing bespoke the excellence of Iain Webb's leadership, now 12 years old. Coaching for this production by Sir Peter Wright and Margaret Barbieri brought the company to high levels of excellence.
Highlights of next season are a return of their John Ringling's A Circus Nutcracker at holiday time and Frederick Ashton's Romeo and Juliet to Prokofiev's score.