Giselle epitomises the Romantic Ballet period. Originally set in rural Germany it is dramatically based on the legend of the Wilis, spirits who have died tragically before their wedding day. Led by the bitter Queen Myrtha they perform their ghostly rites and evilly seek revenge on any man who crosses their path. The production has been adapted for EYB’s large cast by adding extra music from other ballets composed by Adolphe Adam and is set on an English country estate in 1912. Prince Albert is an army officer preparing for the First World War.
Although engaged to Lady Bathilde Albert is in love with Giselle and disguises himself as a Footman, in order to gain entry into the household in which Giselle is a governess to the aristocratic children. Giselle who has a weak heart loves to dance but her Father, the Head Butler, constantly warns her of her possible fate by relating the legend of the Wilis to the Servants and Villagers .Suspicious Hilarion, the Gamekeeper who is protective of Giselle, and his girlfriend Lucienne discover Albert’s true noble identity and try to warn Giselle against him. Seeing Albert and Giselle together during a celebration dance Hilarion at last reveals Albert as an imposter. He recalls the Hunting Party. Giselle is horrified and disbelieving to see Albert greet Lady Bathilde, his fiancée, with a kiss. With the shock of being betrayed and as a result of her weak heart she dies at Prince Albert’s feet.
In Act 2 The Servants and Hunt visit Giselle’s grave to pay their respects. Giselle is initiated into the Wilis and heartbroken Albert prays to see his beloved Giselle. She comes to him and although Myrtha, the Queen , condemns him to death Giselle saves his life by sustaining him through the night and dancing with him until dawn. Woodnymphs taunt and condemn the hunt gentlemen and Hilarion meets his death by the revengeful Wilis.