American Ballet Theatre’s 2018 ‘Giselle’ stars Bolle, Cornejo and Abrera

American Ballet Theatre opens its 2018 Spring Season at the Metropolitan Opera House in Lincoln Center with Kevin McKenzie’s staging of Giselle, Monday – Saturday, May 14 – 19, 2018. From $22

Giselle is French romantic ballet that tells a story of death by betrayal and redemption through forgiveness.

Giselle Characters

A scene from 'Giselle.' Courtesy of American Ballet Theatre.

A scene from ‘Giselle.’ Courtesy of American Ballet Theatre.


A beautiful peasant girl with a weak heart who loves to dance.


A young nobleman who is betrothed to Bathilde, but romances Giselle in disguise.

Queen Myrta

The queen of the Wilis, spirits of girls who died as virgins after being betrayed by their beloveds. Together, they hunt in the forest like packs of cats and get their revenge by dancing to death any man they find.


A local gamekeeper who is courting Giselle.


Duke Albrecht’s betrothed.

Giselle Synopsis

Act 1 tells the story of Giselle’s death from betrayal

It is the grape harvest in Rhineland (western Germany) during the Middle Ages.

Duke Albrecht gets a crush on the beautiful peasant girl Giselle. He disguises himself as the humble villager Loys to romance her.

Hilarion, the gamekeeper, is suspicious and tries to warn Giselle. Giselle’s mother Berthe prefers Hilarion to Loys.

A party of nobles, including Albrecht’s betrothed Bathilde, arrive in the village to party after a hunt. The disguised Albrecht leaves to avoid being discovered. The villagers entertain the noble party with drink and dancing. Bathilde is charmed by Giselle and gives her a necklace as a parting gift.

The villagers continue their festival and name Giselle the Harvest Queen. Albrecht shows up to dance with her.

Hilarion finds Albrecht’s sword and shows it to the party as proof that Loy is not who he pretends to be. Hilarion uses Albrecht’s hunting horn to call back the party of nobles.

They arrive before Albrecht can hide so he is forced to greet Bathilde as is betrothed. Everyone is shocked.

Giselle has a manic episode. She dances wildly until her heart fails and she dies in Albrecht / Loy’s arms. Hilarion and Albrecht begin to fight, but Albrecht runs away. Berthe cries over her daughter’s body.

Act 2 tells the story of Giselle’s redemption through love

Hilarion mourns at Giselle’s grave in the forest. He hides when Queen Myrta and the Wilis arrive. They raise Giselle’s spirit from her grave and make her one of their own.

Albrecht arrives and cries in guilt over Giselle’s grave. Giselle’s spirit appears and he begs forgiveness. She forgives him, then disappears while he tries to follow her.

The Wilis have found Hilarion. They make him dance near to death and drown him in a lake. Then they find Albrecht. He and Giselle plead for his life, but the Wilis make him dance until dawn. Giselle’s love is enough to weaken the spell and Albrecht survives. The Wilis return to their graves, but Giselle’s love frees her from their vengeance and she returns to her grave in peace.

American Ballet Theatre Giselle 2018

American Ballet Theatre performs Giselle Monday – Saturday, May 14 – 19, 2018 with matinees on Wednesday and Saturday. From $22

Giselle is danced by Hee Seo, Misty Copeland, Sarah Lane, Isabella Boylston, Stella Abrera, Natalia Osipova and Gillian Murphy.

Albrecht is danced by Italian Roberto Bolle, Argentine Herman Cornejo, Daniil Simkin, James Whiteside, Cory Stearns and David Hallberg.

Myrta is danced by Gillian Murphy, Devon Teuscher, Christine Shevchenko and Katherine Williams.

The Latin pairings are:

  • Hee Seo and Roberto Bolle (Italian) on opening and closing nights
    Monday, May 14 at 7:30 pm and Saturday, May 19 at 8 pm
  • Misty Copeland (African-American) and Herman Cornejo (Argentine)
    Tuesday, May 15 at 7:30 pm
  • Stella Abrera (Filipina) and Cory Stearns
    Wednesday, May 16 at 7:30 pm

ABT’s Giselle Production

This is Kevin McKenzie’s production after Petipa and Coralli / Perrot.

  • Anna Anni designed the costumes.
  • Gianni Quaranta designed the set.
  • Jennifer Tipton designed the lighting.

The ballet is just over two hours long.

The History of Giselle

What we now call the Paris Opera Ballet premiered Giselle at the Paris Opera House of the period in June 1841.

Jules-Henri Vernoy de Saint-Georges and Théophile Gautier wrote the libretto. The story is based on a passage about the Wilis, Slavic nymphs or female spirits, in De l’Allemagne (Of Germany), a philosophic essay by German poet Heinrich Heine; and on  Fantômes in Les Orientales , a collection of poems inspired by the Greek War of Independence (1821 – 1829) by French Romantic writer Victor Hugo. It is also influenced by the earlier ballet La Sylphide.

The music is by French opera and ballet composer Adolphe Adam (Le corsaire, Le toréadorO Holy Night).

The original choreography was by Jean Coralli and Jules Perrot.

Giselle was produced to introduce Italian ballerina Carlotta Grisi to French audiences. It was popular right away.

The version we know today is based on revivals by Marius Petipa, the father of modern ballet, for the Imperial Ballet in St. Petersburg.

Giselle Tickets

From $22

Get tickets

Monday, May 14 at 7:30 pm

Hee Seo (Giselle)
Roberto Bolle (Albrecht) ~ Italian
Gillian Murphy (Myrta)

Tuesday, May 15 at 7:30 pm

ABT's Herman Cornejo in Seoul as Albrecht in 'Giselle.' Courtesy of Sunkyung Jang / Cornejo.

ABT’s Herman Cornejo in Seoul as Albrecht in ‘Giselle.’ Courtesy of Sunkyung Jang / Cornejo.

Misty Copeland (Giselle) ~ African-American
Herman Cornejo (Albrecht) ~ Argentine
Devon Teuscher (Myrta)

Wednesday, May 16 at 2 pm

Sarah Lane (Giselle)
Daniil Simkin (Albrecht)
Christine Shevchenko (Myrta)

Wednesday, May 16 at 7:30 pm

Isabella Boylston (Giselle)
James Whiteside (Albrecht)
Devon Teuscher (Myrta)

Thursday, May 17 at 7:30 pm

Stella Abrera (Giselle) ~ Filipina
Cory Stearns (Albrecht)
Katherine Williams (Myrta)

Friday, May 18 at 7:30 pm

Natalia Osipova (Giselle)
David Hallberg (Albrecht)
Christine Shevchenko (Myrta)

Saturday, May 19 at 2 pm

Gillian Murphy (Giselle)
Cory Stearns (Albrecht)
Katherine Williams (Myrta)

Saturday, May 19 at 8 pm

Hee Seo (Giselle)
Roberto Bolle (Albrecht) ~ Italian
Devon Teuscher (Myrta)

Visiting the Metropolitan Opera House

The Metropolitan Opera House is the central theater in the main plaza at Lincoln Center.


(1) to 66th St / Lincoln Center


M5, M7, M10, M11, M66 and M104


Pick-up/Drop Off: Columbus Ave at West 64th St

Lincoln Center parking lots are accessible at:

  • 62nd St (between Columbus and Amsterdam)
  • 65th St (between Amsterdam and Broadway)

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