Ethan Stiefel’s quintessential Romantic ballet returns

The Royal New Zealand Ballet’s internationally acclaimed classic production of Giselle, created in Wellington by ballet superstars Ethan Stiefel and Johan Kobborg, returns to New Zealand this August and September for a seven centre tour.

The quintessential Romantic ballet has become a signature work for the RNZB after sell-out performances in New Zealand in 2012, followed by subsequent tours to China (April 2013), the USA (January 2014), the UK and Italy (November 2015), and an adaptation into a feature film by New Zealand director Toa Fraser.

Ethan Stiefel, the RNZB’s former artistic director and co-choreographer of Giselle, will return to Wellington from New York to put the finishing touches on the production ahead of its opening on 11 August.  Since leaving the RNZB at the end of 2014, Stiefel has been working with leading international ballet companies and involved in several stage and television projects (Flesh and Bone by the writers of Breaking Bad and Center Stage: On Pointe reprising his role in the popular 2000 film Center Stage)

“I’m delighted to return to Wellington to work once more in the RNZB studios on this production. Giselle is one of ballet’s great stories and we feel very honoured to have created a version that has resonated with international audiences and critics alike” says Stiefel.

RNZB’s artistic director Francesco Ventriglia has invited two guest artists to dance the leading male role of Albrecht for this season:  much-loved former RNZB dancer Qi Huan who danced the role with the company until his departure in 2014 to take up his current role as full-time classical tutor at the New Zealand School of Dance; and former principal dancer with The Australian Ballet Daniel Gaudiello.

Qi Huan will partner Lucy Green who will dance the title role of Giselle, one of the most demanding and dramatic in the classical ballet repertoire, while Daniel Gaudiello will partner Mayu Tanigaito.  Both Green and Tanigaito received widespread critical acclaim for their performances in the ballet in the UK and Italy.

Giselle includes some of the most beautiful and iconic scenes in all ballet repertory and is renowned for its exquisite pointe work in Act 2, which is set in a ghostly moonlit forest haunted by the white-clad ’Wilis‘. First staged in Paris in 1841, Giselle is one of the oldest surviving ballets still in the international repertory.  The music by Adolphe Adam (1803-1856) is one of the first full-length ballet scores ever to be composed.

For the RNZB’s production the lyrical score will be performed live by orchestras in the four main centres, with a specially recorded version in all other centres. Leading conductor Marc Taddei will conduct Orchestra Wellington, the Christchurch Symphony Orchestra, the Dunedin Symphony Orchestra and Auckland Philharmonia Orchestra.

Giselle opens in Wellington on Thursday 11 August ahead of touring to Napier, Christchurch, Dunedin, Auckland and Rotorua, closing in Palmerston North on 9 September.


Giselle synopsis:

Giselle is a love story about how the power of forgiveness and redemption can overcome the anguish of betrayal.  The two act ballet sees Giselle, a beautiful and innocent village girl fall in love with a mysterious stranger.  When he is revealed as Count Albrecht who is betrothed to another, Giselle’s heart is broken and she descends into madness and death.  Rising from the grave she joins the ranks of the ‘Wilis’: vengeful spirits of abandoned brides – who are determined to exact their revenge on Albrecht by dancing him to death.  But Giselle’s love for him is too strong and she saves him from their fury. For a moment the lovers are united once more, before Giselle returns to the afterlife.



Choreography and production by Ethan Stiefel and Johan Kobborg (choreography after Marius Petipa)

Music by Adolphe Adam. Conducted by Marc Taddei. Costume design by Natalia Stewart. Scenic design by Howard C Jones. Lighting design by Kendall Smith.


Performances and free events

Wellington with Orchestra Wellington, St James Theatre:  Thurs 11 Aug 7.30pm, Fri 12 Aug 7.30pm (free Pre-performance Talk 6.30pm), Sat 13 Aug 1.30 (free Q&A post show) & 7.30pm (Warm Up, Curtain Up 6.20pm), Sun 14 Aug 4pm.

Napier Napier Municipal Theatre: Fri 19 Aug (Warm Up, Curtain Up 6.20pm).

Christchurch with the Christchurch Symphony Orchestra, Isaac Theatre Royal: Tues 23 – Wed 24 Aug 7.30pm (Warm Up, Curtain Up 6.20pm).

Dunedin Regent Theatre: Sun 28 Aug 7.30pm (Warm Up, Curtain Up 6.20pm).

Auckland with Auckland Philharmonia Orchestra, ASB Theatre, Aotea Centre: Wed 31 Aug – Thurs 1 Sept 7.30pm, Fri 2 Sept 7.30pm, (free Pre-performance Talk 6.30pm), Sat 3 Sept 1.30pm (free Q&A post show) & 7.30pm (Warm Up, Curtain Up 6.20pm).

Rotorua Civic Theatre: Tues 6 Sept 7.30pm (Warm Up, Curtain Up 6.20pm).

Palmerston North Regent on Broadway: Fri 9 Sept 7.30pm (Warm Up, Curtain Up 6.20pm)


Running time:

Approximately 2 hours including one interval.

GISELLE, 2015 The Wilis who haunt the moonlit forest. Credit Bill Cooper