A young nobleman, prince Albrecht, disguised under the name of Loys, pays court to a girl named Giselle, who reciprocates his love. The gamekeeper Hans, who suspects Loys’ true identity and is jealous of him, awaits the propitious moment to get his revenge. Meanwhile a party of nobles who have been hunting arrives at the village, in attendance upon the duke of Courland and his daughter Bathilde, who is engaged to Albrecht. Giselle confides to the young lady that she has fallen in love.
She receives a wedding present, but Hans chooses this moment to appear, revealing that Albrecht and Loys are the same person. The prince cannot deny it. Giselle, who feels betrayed in her most cherished and pure sentiment, goes out of her mind. In a wild dance, she tries to kill herself with Albrecht’s sword, then she goes mad and dies of a broken heart.
Some time has passed, and Albrecht, seized with remorse, returns to the village. Here a magic spell is cast by the Wilis, who, led by their imperious queen Myrtha, come out of their tombs by night. Albrecht finds Giselle again, but is condemned to dance until he dies, as is the gamekeeper Hans. In vain the prince begs Myrtha to forgive him: the law of the Wilis is inflexible. Giselle herself, however, saves him by helping him to resist and dancing with him until the sun rises. When the spell comes to an end, Albrecht finds himself in the village, alone with his remorse.
Ballet in two acts.
Libretto by Théophile Gaultier, Jules-Henri Vernois de Saint-Georges, Jean Coralli.
Renewal - Nadezhda Fedorova.