Ghostly Spirits of Maidens Materialized in the Astana Opera

One of the most ancient and extant ballets – Adolphe Adam’s Giselle was presented to the residents and guests of the capital. A special feature of this fantasy ballet were the mystical heroines – ghostly spirits of maidens, whom Giselle herself, ruined by her beloved, also joined. There were no empty seats in the auditorium on the premiere days of June 14 and 15, but the production will be shown again on June 19 for those who did not manage to get to see it.

Ballet Master, People’s Artist of Russia, the Artistic Director of the Astana Opera Ballet Company Altynai Asylmuratova retained the romantic structure and atmosphere of Giselle, bringing to the audience all the nuances of the original. Thus, world’s outstanding choreographic work seemed to have carried the audience over a few centuries back.

The premiere of the ballet took place on June 28, 1841 at the Théâtre de l’Académie Royale de Musique. The production, brought to life by Jean Coralli, Jules Perrot, Marius Petipa, inscribed their names in the world history of ballet. Its main theme and idea is love that has immense power and is capable of saving even from death.

Three completely different casts of dancers perform the ballet: Giselle: Honoured Workers of Kazakhstan Aigerim Beketayeva, Étoile of the Hungarian National Ballet Aliya Tanykpayeva and Anastasia Zaklinskaya. Albrecht: Honoured Worker of Kazakhstan Bakhtiyar Adamzhan, Yerkin Rakhmatullayev, Olzhas Tarlanov. Myrtha: Assel Shaikenova, Yelena Semenova, Yerkezhan Zhunussova.

On the first day of the premiere, an unparalleled dancer Aigerim Beketayeva presented the part of Giselle. She was able to perfectly convey the romantic image of the titular character. Her long, beautiful, ‘singing’ arms were particularly expressive. She performed the entire choreographic rendering of her role at the highest level. Ballerina’s success became possible due to many details that came together in this production: these are the physique, the scale of the artistic personality, as well as her dancing skills and sense of style. Aigerim Beketayeva was able to express something uniquely her own from the stage, to convey to the hearts of the audience something that affected the most delicate strings of their souls, causing genuine tears.

On the second premiere day, this character was portrayed by an experienced dancer, Etoile of the Hungarian National Ballet, Aliya Tanykpayeva. It is known that this is one of her favorite parts. The madness scene, performed by the dancer, caused great emotions among the audience. Body plastique, acting skills, great talent, and special magnetic inner strength of Aliya Tanykpayeva allowed her to create her own interpretation of Giselle.

It can be seen that Altynai Asylmuratova made it possible for each ballerina to express herself, not limiting them only within the framework of choreography, but, on the contrary, focusing on artistry, offering them to walk the path of heroine’s life individually and feel the betrayal of her beloved along with Giselle.

For the third performer of Giselle’s part, Anastasia Zaklinskaya, appearing in this challenging role is yet to come. According to professionals, this part serves as a ‘take-off platform’ for beginners. Debuting in Giselle is like a litmus test, which determines the ability of female dancers to express themselves onstage. However, even at rehearsals it was clear that Anastasia Zaklinskaya leads this complex classical ballet perfectly well, understands the character of Giselle, deeply worries and clearly speaks of the joy of love and the pain of disillusionment in the rich language of dance. Anastasia Zaklinskaya and her partner Olzhas Tarlanov will perform on June 19th.

Kazakh ballet star Bakhtiyar Adamzhan managed to build an impactful portrayal of Albrecht. The dancer was required to present an intelligent style of dance, which he successfully accomplished. The Duke’s facial expressions, gestures and deportment are all elements of Principal Dancer’s magnificent acting. His expressive dance was filled with romantic traits. Master of the lyrical genre Yerkin Rakhmatullayev fully conveyed the unbridled passion of his hero in the first act, and his despair, repentance in the second.

Regal and imperious, cold and proud Myrtha performed by Assel Shaikenova and Yelena Semenova remained adamant about her decision to take revenge on all men. The dancers successfully coped with their task, which is yet to be solved by Yerkezhan Zhunussova.

It is worth coming and seeing this production just for its crowd scenes alone. Such beauty of the patterns of dance scenes cannot be found in any other ballet. The corps de ballet, with which Elena Sherstneva was rehearsing, worked wonders onstage, casting a spell with its synchronicity and purity of lines.

The orchestra sounded cohesive under Arman Urazgaliyev’s baton. It is very difficult to conduct ballet, but the maestro inspired the musicians, and together they created a rhythmic, lively first act and an otherworldly, mystical second. The conductor did not take his eyes off the stage, helping the dancers to follow all the tempos.

The set design in this production turned out to be very austere, without the 3D effects, usual for the capital’s audience. Nevertheless, this had its own attraction and charm of the design for an ancient ballet. The moon-blue colour flooded the stage in the second act, and the shadows of the ghostly spirit maidens created a special atmosphere, which was a little spooky. Ezio Frigerio, an outstanding contemporary set designer, resolved the production in a picturesque style, which made it unique. The painted canvases of soft scenery created the high artistic value of Giselle. An Academy Award-winning costume designer Franca Squarciapino used the entire palette of colours. The viewers wanted to study each dancer’s outfit in detail: someone had an inimitable hat, someone had extraordinarily beautiful boots, and ballerinas’ dresses were so diverse that each of them could be presented on the podium.

Even though the main character Giselle dies, becoming a Wili, and disappears with the sunrise, she will definitely continue to live on due to the love and memory that Albrecht will keep in his heart.

The premiere was held with the support of the Ministry of Culture and Sports of the Republic of Kazakhstan. It was attended by ballet critics and high art connoisseurs.

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