4 November 2021
GISELLE (Royal Opera House) Ballet Review
I must’ve been 10 or 12 when I last saw Giselle: my parents took me to some production they wanted to see. I think I’ve always enjoyed classical ballets because they are inherently easier to understand than modern dance performances. That said, not all ballet dancers are great storytellers, but Natalia Osipova (Giselle), Reece Clark (Albrecht), and Mayara Magri (Myrtha, queen of the Wilis) are simply brilliant in supplementing the obviously superb ballet skills with acting out the story in a way that would make it crystal clear even to those who don’t know the plot.
The sets are fantastic. The direction lifts the production and gives it clarity.
As for the dancing, I am not enough of a connoisseur to recognise and name the different positions and movements, but… Osipova’s flexibility is phenomenal. The way she effortlessly extends her limbs makes her look completely weightless and statuette-like (in a positive sense, like no human should be able to hold themselves in that position for that long). She completely steals the show any time she is on stage. Clarke has some fantastic height to his jumps. How he does umpteen of them in a row with a huge smile on his face, I couldn’t begin to fathom, but he makes it impossible to look away. Magri is jaw-droppingly smooth. She glides across the stage with these smooth, graceful, and precise movements and pretty much owns the second act.
A special shout-out to Joseph Sissens, who was in the pas de six (and was also in The Dante Project). I noticed him in “Dante”, but that was, obviously, the Watson show. Here he stood out from the other 5 by a country mile in just how good he was. He will surely be a principal dancer in no time.
Cheapskate enjoyment value: £10.
*Covid Note*: Complete and utter disaster, though pretty much same as everywhere. Most of the people not wearing masks and are completely ignoring the constantly-playing announcements that ask people to mask up. There was a woman a further down the row from me who kept coughing the whole first act. She had no mask on and wasn’t covering her mouth either. Whatcha gonna do… Complained to ROH who said they are following the government guidance. I am disappointed that, when the government guidance is complete nonsense, we can’t do better than just follow it.