Jordan College of the Arts
Department of Dance


Giselle 1drop
Backdrop for Act 1 of Giselle

The Ballet Russe Collection

© 2001 Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York / ADAGP, Paris

Full-length ballet in 2 acts after the original (Paris 1841) choreographed by Jean Coralli and Jules Perrot, to the libretto of Theophile Gautier, Vernoy de Saint-Georges, and Jean Coralli. Music by Adolphe Adam. Ballet Russe version staged by Serge Lifar after the original, with scenery by Alexander Benois (premiere: London, July 12, 1938).

Giselle was brought to Russia by Marius Petipa, and most subsequent productions have been based on his 1884 St. Petersburg version. Western revivals of Giselle all bear the influence of Diaghilev's famed Ballets Russes which brought the ballet back to Europe after a hiatus of nearly fifty years. This most certainly was the case of the Ballets Russes de Monte-Carlo's version, which was staged in 1938 by Serge Lifar, himself a former dancer with Diaghilev's company, who also danced the role of Albrecht during the first few seasons.

Only the scenery for Act I remains; the backdrop and most of the legs are unfortunately rather faded. Two sets of legs for this act were unearthed in the Butler Ballet's collection; one set was tagged as "Act II", but in the absence of a drop for that act it is difficult to know if this was accurate. The other set of legs and borders which are in excellent condition are probably attributable to George Verdak, who was himself an accomplished scenic artist.

Below are pictures with different sets of legs and borders added.

Giselle 1, 3arch
Act I Backdrop with forest arch

Giselle 1compl
Complete set for Act I (2 sets of legs & borders, 1 arch, backdrop)
Giselle 1drop2legs
Act I backdrop with set of legs identified as belonging to Act II

Reproduction, including downloading of Benois works is prohibited by copyright laws and international conventions without the express written permission of Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York.