Skip to main content
Jo Tomalin

San Francisco Ballet: Giselle

By February 26, 2023March 1st, 2023No Comments

Sasha De Sola in Tomasson’s Giselle // © Lindsay Thomas

San Francisco Ballet presents Giselle at the War Memorial Opera House, San Francisco as part of their 2023 season led by Artistic Director, Tamara Rojo.

Choreographed by Helgi Tomasson after Marius Petipa, Jules Perrot, and Jean Coralli, Giselle runs from February 24th until March 5th.. Tomasson’s production is set to music by Adolphe Adam, with additional music, orchestrations, and arrangements by Friedrich Burgmüller, Ludwig Minkus, and Emil de Cou, conducted by Martin West.

On opening night, February 24th 2023, the cast featured principal dancers Sasha De Sola as Giselle, Aaron Robinson as Count Albrecht and Nikisha Fogo as Myrtha.

The story takes place in a beautiful bucolic setting surrounded by a gathering of friends where Giselle lives with her mother in a Rhineland village. When noblemen visit – an elegant and distinguished Ricardo Bustamante as the Duke of Courtland and his entourage – there is great excitement and Giselle meets the Count Albrecht, who is disguised as Loys, a peasant…and so the romantic and mysterious journey begins.

Misa Kuranaga in Tomasson’s Giselle // © Chris Hardy

De Sola is fast, light and fluid as the peasant girl with a passion for dance, Giselle dances everywhere only to be curbed by her caring mother, Anita Paciotti as Berthe. Robinson is dynamic as Albrecht/Loys when he meets Giselle. Their partnering is charming, joyous and harmonious with intricate footwork as they weave their way around the many villagers, friends and children.

The Pas de Cinq with Isabella DeVivo, Norika Matsuyama, Carmela Mayo, Max Cauthorn, Hansuke Yamamoto is notable and engaging in Tomasson’s production.

San Francisco Ballet in Tomasson’s Giselle // © Chris Hardy

While there is a lot of traditional style mimed expression in this production from several characters, and especially between Robinson’s Loys and Nathaniel Remez as Hilarion, a court game keeper, this ballet demands substantial acting skills from its main characters – and they all manage very successfully.

San Francisco Ballet in Tomasson’s Giselle // © Lindsay Thomas

The scene changes to another time and place – to the haunting glade of the Wilis, who are ethereal creatures, maidens who died before they wed and live their fragile lives at night. Fogo is a wonderful and commanding Myrtha, the Queen of the Wilis with pure technique and the vision of the corps of Wilis is spectacular. The Wilis are wearing white calf length dresses covered with gossamer tulle and are outstanding as they perform Tomasson’s tricky choreography, ranging from lyrical or en pointe to the ensemble delicately balancing while turning in perfect unison, set amongst a forest of tall dark trees with intricate branches that open and delicately settle into place, inviting the Wilis to inhabit the night, this scene is utterly beguiling.

Beautiful period costumes (with special attention to fascinating hats) in Act I with the striking Wilis costumes in Act II, and the scenic and lighting design are all by Mikael Melbye.

Nikisha Fogo in Tomasson’s Giselle // © Lindsay Thomas

De Sola’s mad scene and the quality of her strength and graceful precision performing sequence after sequence of intricate virtuosic footwork together with her range of character depth in this rigorous multi faceted Giselle in both act I and act II are truly exceptional. Robinson conveys a range of emotions with vibrant muscular expression and a strong presence in his solos and tender partnering with De Sola. They are an exciting match! Throughout the run the casts change, showcasing the quality and depth of SF Ballet dancers. There is much to enjoy and admire about this production – and the final flourishes of this ballet are simply breathtaking! Highly recommended!!!

Sasha De Sola and Aaron Robison in Tomasson’s Giselle // © Lindsay Thomas

More Information and Tickets:

SF Ballet

SF Ballet: Giselle information and Trailer

Jo Tomalin, Ph.D. reviews Dance & Theatre Performances
More Reviews by Jo Tomalin
TWITTER @JoTomalin  Arts & Travel Reviews