Haunting Royal New Zealand Ballet Favourite Returns

The Royal New Zealand Ballet’s (RNZB) critically acclaimed Giselle, which toured the world after its sold-out premiere season, returns to delight ballet fans around the country in May and June. Romantic, mystical and lyrical, the RNZB’s Giselle is a timeless production of one of ballet’s great stories.

Former RNZB Artistic Director Ethan Stiefel and celebrated principal dancer, choreographer, and director Johan Kobborg’s acclaimed production of Giselle first toured New Zealand in 2012 to packed audiences, returning in 2016 to equal acclaim.

Ethan Stiefel says, “I am so proud that this iconic, yet truly unique production of ours will again have the opportunity to engage and entertain audiences across New Zealand.”

RNZB Artistic Director, Patricia Barker says, “We have reached into our vault of precious gems and great, beloved ballets, and can’t wait to be on stage again with Giselle. New Zealand audiences and dancers have shared an almost 70-year love affair with this ballet, which continues to enthrall us all with its elegance and timeless story.”

The other-worldly Romantic ballet has become a signature work for the RNZB. After captivating both audiences and critics alike, the production toured to China, the USA, the UK and Italy. In 2013 it was turned into a feature film by director Toa Fraser.

In 2021, New Zealand audiences will have the opportunity to see this masterpiece once again, at six centres across the motu – Wellington, Palmerston North, Napier, Auckland, Christchurch and Dunedin.

In a remote village, the beautiful and innocent Giselle is courted and captivated by a mysterious stranger. When he is revealed as Count Albrecht, betrothed to another, Giselle, heartbroken, descends into madness and death.

In the forest, the Wilis, vengeful ghosts of jilted brides, meet to greet their recently arrived sister: Giselle, who rises from her grave to join their ranks. Albrecht arrives to mourn, and the Wilis exact their revenge, compelling him to dance until he dies from exhaustion. Giselle shields him from their fury, until the first light of day brings the promise of forgiveness and redemption.

Conducted by Principal Conductor Hamish McKeich, Adolphe Adam’s lyrical score will be performed live by Orchestra Wellington, the Christchurch Symphony Orchestra, and the Auckland Philharmonia Orchestra, with a recorded version by Orchestra Wellington in all other centres.

Giselle is a brilliantly balanced fusion of the many elements which make ballet so special: emotional depth, human characters, romance, and beautiful choreography – from pure classical ballet to folk dances – in a stunning, ghostly setting. It is one of the most beloved ballets ever created.

Giselle will tour from 12 May to 9 June.

“The theatre was still, breaths were held, and there were tears in eyes. This really was a Giselle that provided the theatrical and dramatic opportunity for the leads to shine.” – The Press

“It is easy to see why the Royal NZ Ballet’s signature work Giselle has earned popular and critical acclaim at home in New Zealand and around the world: it is simply superb in every way.” – The New Zealand Herald

Giselle season information

Wellington | 12 May to 15 May | Opera House

Palmerston North | 19 May | Regent on Broadway

Napier | 22 May to 23 May | Municipal Theatre

Auckland | 27 May to 29 May | Kiri Te Kanawa Theatre, Aotea Centre

Christchurch | 4 June to 5 June | Isaac Theatre Royal

Dunedin | 9 June | Regent Theatre

More information here.


Production and Choreography: Ethan Stiefel and Johan Kobborg, after Marius Petipa
Music: Adolphe Adam
Scenic Design: Howard C Jones
Lighting Design: Kendall Smith
Costume Design: Natalia Stewart
Conductor: Hamish McKeich
Orchestras: Orchestra Wellington, Christchurch Symphony Orchestra, Auckland Philharmonia Orchestra