Boston Ballet Presents LA SYLPHIDE
Boston Ballet's 2017-2018 season concludes with La Sylphide, a program showcasing Danish choreographer August Bournonville's romantic and tragic tale of La Sylphide and Bournonville Divertissements, a series of excerpts from his classic works. This program runs May 24-June 10, 2018, at the Boston Opera House.
"La Sylphide is considered by many the epitome of Romantic ballet-with its timeless tale, storytelling through mime, and ethereal dancing. Paired with rarely-performed Bournonville Divertissements, this program is an excellent showcase of the Bournonville style of dancing," said Artistic Director Mikko Nissinen.
La Sylphide is Bournonville's most famous ballet. Set in the Scottish Highlands, La Sylphide tells the fantastical tale of James, a man on his wedding day, who falls under the spell of a beautiful and ethereal woodland sylph. Tricked into accepting the help of Madge, an evil sorceress, he tries desperately to possess his newfound desire. This ballet showcases challenging, bravura solos for male dancers and light, buoyant jumps executed by the sylphs. The original production premiered in France in 1832 with choreography by Filippo Taglioni, but it is Bournonville's 1836 revision with music by Herman Løvenskiold that has been performed in perpetuity.
This production includes additional choreography by Sorella Englund, who coached Boston Ballet dancers. Throughout her career as a ballerina with the Royal Danish Ballet in the 1970s, Englund performed major roles in several of Bournonville's ballets-Madge from La Sylphide is one of her signature roles. Following her dance career, she has staged Bournonville works for several major companies. According to Alastair Macaulay of The New York Times, "Sorella Englund... has become the foremost interpreter of that choreographer's mime roles today."
Boston Ballet premiered Bournonville's La Sylphide in 1988. It was performed again in 2005 and 2007 with additional choreography by Englund. Boston Ballet toured this production in Spain during the summer of 2007. Of the 2005 performance, Karen Campbell wrote in The Boston Globe, "Boston Ballet's gorgeous...production of La Sylphide [is] deliciously sweet...the ballet's only disappointment is that it leaves you wanting more."
La Sylphide is paired with Bournonville Divertissements, a series of rarely-performed excerpts from Bournonville's extensive repertoire including the Jockey Dance from his last ballet From Siberia to Moscow, the pas de deux from Flower Festival in Genzano, and the pas de six and tarantella from Napoli.
Bournonville created Flower Festival in Genzano in 1858. While the full-length production hasn't been performed since 1929, the pas de deux has survived and demonstrates Bournonville's characteristic fleet-footed choreography.
Napoli was inspired by Bournonville's travels to Italy. While it depicts the romance between a fisherman and a village girl, the ballet is truly Bournonville's love letter to Naples. Napoli is the Bournonville style at its truest-the portrayal of everyday life, a happy ending, and virtuosic dancing.
August Bournonville (1805-1879) was a dancer and choreographer who directed the Royal Danish Ballet for nearly 50 years and established the Danish style based on bravura dancing and expressive mime. He choreographed more than 50 ballets during his lifetime, most notably La Sylphide, Napoli, and Flower Festival in Genzano.
Photo Credit: Sabi Varga