On the heels of Compañía Nacional de Danza’s successful return to Teatro Real, the company held its world premiere of Artistic Director Joaquin De Luz’s Giselle at another of Madrid’s renowned performing arts venues, Teatro de la Zarzuela.
Bringing to life a new vision of an epitomized classical ballet is an ambitious task and in De Luz’s case it would be better classified as a reinvention. He put together a team of experts in musical direction, libretto writing, dramaturgy, scenography, lighting sound, video, and costume design; many of them with little experience in working with a ballet company. This decision was intentional though as De Luz “didn’t want to do a traditional Giselle. For that [he] could have rented a production.”
There is much significance to De Luz having decided to set his multimedia – cinematic and voiceover are key elements to his version – Giselle during the period of Spanish Romanticism. He is including the history of his country in the classical ballet canon and bringing to the forefront the rich cultural influence this short early 19th century movement had, all to a primarily Spanish audience. Inspired by the writings of one of the country’s most famous poets, Gustavo Adolfo Bécquer, this story takes place in a small village near Moncayo, Spain.
There are no artistic details left untouched as De Luz makes some alterations to assure that there are no incongruences in the presentation. Aside from the costumes obviously needing to appropriately reflect the time and location, we also see how Bathilde’s necklace gift to Giselle is replaced with a peineta, Albrecht’s sword replaced with a pistola, and the introduction of Giselle’s mantilla as a symbol of her love for Albrecht.