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Tuesday, July 16, 2024

HBSO’s Sensational Giselle returns to Saigon Opera House

By Bradley Winterton

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HCMC – Giselle is one of the most extraordinary, impressive and beloved ballets in the classical repertoire, and HBSO is reviving their spectacular production for two performances on Friday and Saturday (October 20 and 21) at the Saigon Opera House.

Giselle, which was first performed in 1841, is the work of the French composer Adolphe Adam (1803-1856). It tells the story of a country girl, Giselle, who proves attractive to young aristocrat Albrecht (Albert). He feels Giselle will be put off by his high class, however, so assumes the person of a country lad, Loys. In reality he is engaged to an upper-class girl, Bathilde. A genuinely rural boy, Hilarion, is also in love with Giselle but stands little chance of winning her.

The ballet is in two acts, and the second act takes place in an imagined afterlife. This is because at the end of Act One Giselle suddenly dies.

This afterlife is dominated by a troupe of female spirits called the Wilis. They are girls who have been abandoned by their boyfriends and so never married. Their leader is the terrifying Myrtha who does everything in her power to recruit Giselle into her militant band of Wilis.

Albert, however, manages to follow Giselle into the afterlife, and though he cannot get her back into the land of the living he nevertheless helps her defend herself from the Wilis, and she never joins them.

Hilarion gets a glimpse of the disembodied Giselle, but he remains an outsider throughout the rest of the ballet.

This revival of Giselle by HBSO is a star-studded affair. Giselle herself will be danced by Do Hoang Khang Ninh, who, after an early start, was a lead character in Nutcracker (Clara), in the contemporary dance production Cafe Saigon, in Ballet Kieu (as Thay Van), and in Coppelia. She was also awarded a month’s scholarship to polish her skills in Norway.

Albert will be Meritorious Artist Ho Phi Diep. He has danced lead roles in Swan Lake, Ballet Suite Carmen, Nutcracker, Coppelia, and Cinderella, and has performed in Singapore, Taiwan, Cambodia, France, Japan, Laos and China. He was given the Grand Award of the Ministry of Culture, Sport and Tourism in 2008, and is currently Deputy Head of HBSO’s ballet department.

Two more Meritorious Artists take some smaller parts, Tran Hoang Yen as Myrtha and Dam Duc Nhuan as Hilarion.

This veteran production is the work of Chloe Glemot and Yuki Hiroshige, with additional assistance from Meritorious Artist Tran Hoang Yen (Myrtha).

This is a very special revival, starring some of the most celebrated of HBSO’s dancers, and it should attract large audiences.

Tickets are priced from VND400,000 to VND750,000, and the shows will begin at 8 p.m.

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