Giselle by Teatro di San Carlo

Last evening, Little E and I were very privileged to have been invited to the opening performance of the ballet, Giselle, performed by the oldest ballet company in the world, the Teatro di San Carlo from Naples, Italy.

Giselle Teatro di San Carlo Marina Bay Sands

Little E is excited about the ballet!

It was a truly magical performance.

The dancers were such a joy to watch, with their expressive faces and gestures keeping all of us – Little E included – completely mesmerised. I was especially entranced the ghostly Wilis who were absolutely ethereal, drifting across the stage in their veils, each as light as a feather.

I wondered at first if the ballet would touch on themes that were too difficult for Little E to understand, but through the storytelling of the dancers, she was actually more than able to follow the complex storyline of love and betrayal.

Giselle Teatro di San Carlo

The Wilis (Photo credit: Francesco Squeglia)

In order to prepare 6 year old Little E for the performance, I borrowed Ballet Stories by Margaret Hargreaves from our public library and read her the tragic tale of Giselle.

Giselle, a beautiful but sickly peasant girl falls in love with Albrecht, a nobleman who disguises himself as a farmer in order to gain her affections. He promises to marry her, and she shares her excitement with a visiting noblewoman who is also celebrating her engagement. Unfortunately, it turns out that Albrecht is engaged to the noblewoman, and Giselle goes insane with grief, dancing until her heart gives out and she dies. Giselle becomes one of the Wilis, shades of women who died from unrequited love, but instead of exacting her revenge on Albrecht by dooming him to dance to his death, she pleads with the Wilis Queen and saves his life.

Little E and I had some very good conversations about the story of Giselle (especially in the light of this recent event), but it’s a very good cautionary tale about how important it is to choose potential suitors wisely and to listen to the counsel of friends and relatives who care for you.

Owls Well recommends: This ballet is 2 hours long with a short interval, so make sure you bring your little one to the bathroom before the start of the performance, and bring some sugar-free sweets to help them focus quietly!

P.S. Giselle is playing in Singapore until the 29 April 2017, so go watch it before it’s too late! Get tickets to Giselle here.

P.P.S. Find Ballet Stories by Margaret Hargreaves here.


16 thoughts on “Giselle by Teatro di San Carlo

  1. You know I love the arts and what it does to the minds and soul. Seeing your daughter’s face beaming sums it all up! Moreover it’s so memorable – sharing one of the world’s iconic ballets with her mummy….priceless. Thanks for sharing!

    • Yes! Little E loves to dance, so she was able to appreciate the ballet on a technical level as well. “Look at their beautiful feet, Mummy!”

    • I guess it depends on your point of view. When I talked to my daughter about it afterwards, she seemed to think the ending reflected Giselle’s ability to forgive the injustice that was done to her and marked a turning point in the life of Albrecht who would ever after treat all women with the utmost respect. So she felt that it was not a tragic outcome for Giselle (unlike that of the other Wilis who are doomed to forever go around haunting men to death).

  2. I love how you introduce the story in book form before watching the ballet with little E. I bet the ballet makes more sense to her when she watch it. As for the cautionary tale about suitors, haha… I guess its never too early to begin planting seeds – the right seeds. 🙂

    • Yes, we had a talk about ‘secret boyfriends’ afterwards. Basically telling her that if someone doesn’t want to be introduced to her family, then he’s not interested in being part of her life.

  3. The story is so heart-breaking but so lovely, I thought it was a really good transition to introduce the story from the storybook, and then to the stage. I am sure Little E would be able to understand and enjoy the performance more this way!

    • The storybook was a little more brutal – she kills herself in the story. In the ballet, it’s implied that she is a sickly girl with a weak heart who shouldn’t be dancing – then she goes insane and dances until her heart gives out. Little E kept saying “Stop dancing Giselle! You’re gonna die!”

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