Alan Hineline's Giselle


Sunoco Performance Theater Sat, Apr 1 1:00 PM
Sunoco Performance Theater Sat, Apr 1 5:00 PM
Sunoco Performance Theater Sun, Apr 2 2:00 PM



Act I - A Rhineland Village
As the ballet begins day breaks on a peaceful German village. Hilarion, the village huntsman and a gamekeeper, returns from an early morning hunt with his catch. Dressed somewhat rudely, his gestures are not refined. Yet he is a man of genuine feeling – a man in love. He places a pheasant near the entrance to a cottage. This is the cottage of Giselle, the lovely village maiden who lives with Berthe, her mother. Giselle is the young maiden who has captured his heart.

Villagers pass by, greeting one another on their way to the vineyards where they will harvest the last grapes before the Wine Festival. Peasant couples talk to each other affectionately, young girls wave in greeting to their friends. Berthe returns from her morning chores. She thanks Hilarion for his kindness, as she enters the cottage and he departs.

Two men arrive – the handsome young Albrecht, the Duke of Silesia who has shed his princely clothing in order to appear as a commoner, and his squire, Wilfrid. Albrecht pauses before Giselle’s cottage. He, too, has fallen in love with the young maiden. Knowing social standing prevents him from marrying her, her puts on a peasant disguise in order that his love may be returned. Wilfrid begs his master not to pursue Giselle, but Albrecht refuses. He gives his cape and sword to Wilfrid and sends him away. Having hidden the cloak and sword, Wilfrid reluctantly withdraws.

Albrecht approaches Giselle’s cottage, listens, then knocks. Teasingly he hides. Giselle happily runs out of the house looking to see who knocked. She searches the square but no one is there! Albrecht continues to tease, blowing her kisses. Finally he comes out of hiding. Shyly she approaches him. He nudges her shoulder. When Albrecht gently takes her wrist, she smiles; and the two dance blissfully. 

Suddenly Albrecht is completely serious. He expresses his eternal love to Giselle and vows that he will always be faithful to her. Wanting to prove his pledge, she picks a flower and begins to pluck its petals in a game of he-loves-me-he-loves-me-not. When the last petal Giselle chooses to pick turns out to be loves-me-not, she throws the flower to the ground and begins to cry. Albrecht patches up the flower and declares that the last petal is really he-loves-me. Fully consoled, Giselle links her arm through Albrecht’s and they dance.

As Giselle and Albrecht embrace, Hilarion happens by. Boldly the gamekeeper interrupts, reproaching Giselle’s conduct. How can she love Albrecht? Begging her to come back to him, Hilarion kneels before her declaring that he alone truly loves her. A quarrel arises. Hilarion grabs his knife and charges. His suspicions about Albrecht are intensified as the imposter instinctively reaches for the sword which, as a nobleman, he is accustomed to wearing.  Regarding Albrecht with suspicion and hatred, Hilarion departs angrily. Giselle is shaken by the scene and Albrecht holds her in his arms, reassuring her softly. 

The villagers return and Giselle invites them to join in a dance to celebrate the harvest. The dancing stops when Giselle’s mother enters and begs her daughter not to overexert herself; Berthe frets,  for Giselle’s heart is fragile. As the village girls gather around, Berthe tells the frightening tale of the Wilis – restless spirits who died before reaching their wedding day. The Wilis, doomed to dance forever, rise from their graves at night to kill any men who happen by. The village girls are terrified by this story; Giselle alone is unfazed and laughs it off. Berthe, however, takes her by the hand and together they go into the cottage. The door closes. A hunting horn announcing the royal party sounds in the distance. Wilfrid enters, grabs Albrecht’s cape and the two men hastily depart the scene.

Hilarion returns, gaining entry to Albrecht’s cottage in an attempt to find out his rival’s true identity. Soon the noble hunting party, including the Prince of Courland and his daughter, Bathilde, arrives in the village. In need of refreshment, the Prince orders a page to knock at Giselle’s door. Berthe and Giselle happily respond. Bathilde is kind to the young girl, who is enthralled by the elegant fabric of the noblewoman’s long dress. Learning that Giselle loves to dance, Bathilde encourages the peasant girl to dance. As Giselle’s mother is about to reprimand her daughter, the dance is quickly over. Bathilde expresses her admiration for the peasant girl by giving her a gold necklace. Accepting Giselle’s invitation to rest, the Prince sends the attendants back to the hunt, and he and his daughter enter the cottage. Hilarion appears from Albrecht’s cottage holding a nobleman’s sword.  He has figured out his rival is a great lord. He gestures in triumph: now perhaps Giselle will believe him!

The villagers return to celebrate the harvest festival. Peasant girls and boys dance. Persuading Giselle to join them, the villagers proclaim her the Queen of the Wine Festival. Albrecht reappears and as he and Giselle are about to embrace, Hilarion separates them with the weapon. Hilarion unmasks Albrecht but Giselle does not believe him. As Hilarion blows the hunting horn, the prince and his daughter come out of the house and greet Albrecht. He kisses Bathilde’s hand and Giselle realizes the extent of his deception. Her heart is broken; defenseless, her reason begins to disintegrate. Lost in reverie she reenacts earlier moments with Albrecht. Finally she runs towards Albrecht and falls to the ground lifeless. Her heart has failed and she dies of a broken heart – her love unrequited.

Act II – Within a forest glade at midnight
The curtain opens on a scene misty with the dewy night. Occasionally the moon penetrates the thick trees, its light reflected in a nearby lake. In this dimness we discover Hilarion lying at the grave of Giselle, her name inscribed on a large cross stands above the grassy mound. Hilarion stirs, disturbed by the distant chimes striking midnight. This is the hour when the Wilis appear. Will-o-the wisps flash threateningly around him. Hilarion flees in terror.

Myrtha, Queen of the Wilis, arrives mysteriously, radiant and piercing the shadows of the night. Her movements are confident, controlled, beautiful, but they possess no warmth. Gathering two rosemary sprigs from the foot of the grave, she throws them into the forest to call the Wilis. Instantly obedient to her command they appear. Led by two attendants to the queen, Moyna and Zulmé, they arrange themselves for a dance. As the dancing ends, Myrtha announces the arrival of a new Wili.

Giselle appears, rising from her grave, veiled, dressed in white. As if hypnotized she responds to the commands of Myrtha, who declares she is now a member of the ghostly tribe. Surrounded by her “sisters,” Giselle suddenly seems to come to life. Turning around and around, she rejoices in her liberation from the grave, dancing as they, too, have danced at their first appearance from their graves – before the dreadful power of the queen dominated them completely. When Myrtha hears someone approaching she orders the Wilis to disperse and hide themselves.

The grief-stricken Albrecht appears. Slowly, dejectedly, he moves to the grave of his beloved, filled with memories of her tragic death. He kneels before Giselle’s grave. Believing he sees the ghost of Giselle, he tries to embrace her, but he cannot. She looks at him lovingly and brings him white lilies, a sign that this is not a dream. Before disappearing back into her tomb, she encourages Albrecht to leave this dark place.

No sooner does Hilarion return to the scene than the Wilis appear before him. Frightened nearly to death and begging for mercy from the Wilis, the poor hapless gamekeeper is forced to dance himself to exhaustion before being cast off to his death.

Myrtha orders the Wilis to search for Albrecht. Trapped, he begs for pity. Giselle re-appears pleading on his behalf, but her intervention serves only to increase Myrtha’s anger. Determined to save Albrecht’s life at all costs, Giselle gestures to him to take refuge beneath the cross at her grave. Albrecht reaches the spot in spite of the Wilis’ efforts to ensnare him. Giselle stands before him in defiance of the queen, and the queen’s powers diminish.

Furious at this sudden loss of her power, Myrtha orders Giselle to dance. Under her spell, the girl obeys. At the conclusion of the dance, Albrecht leaves the cross – the only thing that could protect him. Again, the queen commands Giselle to dance. She knows that Giselle will never tire, that, like all Wilis, she has a passion for dancing. She also knows that Albrecht will wish to please Giselle and dance with her.

Ardently, passionately they dance. Higher and higher, straight into the air he lifts Giselle. Just as it seems Albrecht is exhausted to the point of death, the first rays of the sun appear. It is morning! The chimes strike four. The Wilis must vanish, they lose their power in daylight. Giselle rejoices that Albrecht’s life is saved! They embrace. 

Giselle’s spirit is now free from the Wilis as her love has transcended the power over her. But, she knows this is farewell for she, too, must return to her grave. Giselle goes to her grave. Albrecht is left alone.