Title: Giselle, Royal Opera House, London
Author: Clement Crisp
Date: July 27, 2010
Publisher: The Financial Times
Rarely have I known a Giselle such as Natalia Osipova showed us on Monday night. I have been blessed in seeing the greatest Giselles of the past six decades – Markova, Ulanova, Chauviré, Makarova, Semenyaka; each miraculous. I know now that I must add Osipova to their number.
Her performance in the Bolshoi’s cursory staging (fine storm-tossed scenery; extremely wonky Courland hunting party) brought dancing so serenely of the air, emotions so touching in their truth and final immolatory grace, that eye and heart were held by the splendour of her means. The girl who steps from the cottage in Act 1 is unworldly in everything, not least her devotion to Albrecht (well taken by Ruslan Skvortsov, with caddish charm and elegant manners in the first act, and an anguish of remorse in the forest).
That Osipova’s dancing boasts prodigious lightness – the air her home, movement springing from the earth, defying gravity even in the simplest steps – is part of her great talent. But she is also an actress with an unerring sense of the emotional progress of gesture and step. How delicate is her Giselle in the first scenes, love for Albrecht guiding every action, not least in her attempt to hide her ill-health from him with the gentlest artifice. Her mad scene is heart-tearing in its outbursts of despair, and heart-lifting in its communicative force. And how tremendous is her ghostly Giselle, bounding and circling in her first moments with tireless energy as earth’s weight is removed from her, and then carving the wili’s dances from the air in flawless shapes.
And how beautiful the moment when dawn frees Albrecht from the wilis’ power, and Osipova tells us that he is saved, that her need to save him is fulfilled, and she can return to the grave’s oblivion. Here was a great interpretation: we were privileged to see it.
And preceding Giselle, a lustrous hymn to the artistry of the Bolshoi’s women, to their schooling and coaching, to their beauty of means and style, in Balanchine’sSerenade, danced with lustrous skill, and played impeccably by the Bolshoi orchestra under Igor Dronov.