The American Ballet Theatre’s 2012 Spring Season at the Metropolitan Opera House opened this past week with Giselle. We saw last night’s performance, starring one of our favorite dancers, Marcelo Gomes (as Count Albrecht), and Diana Vishneva in the title role.

It was an outstanding beginning to our season of six ballets.

The story of Giselle, which is the oldest continually performed ballet (it was created in 1841), is a tragic one. Count Albrecht is in love with Giselle even though it would be forbidden for the Count to wed a commoner. Hilarion, a village hunter, is also in love with Giselle. The hunter discovers the Counts duplicity and exposes it to Giselle, who goes mad and dies of a broken heart. In the second act, the Wilis initiate Giselle into their sisterhood of maidens who fiancés failed to marry them. They are spirits who vengefully trap any male who enters their domain and they force the men to dance to death. The Count comes to Giselle’s grave to leave flowers and his trapped, but Giselle protects him and dances with him until dawn, when the spirits lose their power.

Gomes and Vishneva are breathtaking, particularly in their Act II numbers in the forest clearing (which is the scene all of the above pictures are from). The footwork was complex, but yet graceful and the two dancers made it all look effortless. I loved how Gomes would pick up Vishneva and  move her through the air, as if he was moving a ghost. It was sublime. The  other spirits in the forest also added to the ethereal quality of it all. It was beautiful and made the dance all the more heartbreaking.

Also of note were Sarah Lane and Daniil Simkin who danced the peasant pas de deux in Act I. They were amazing in both their partnering and solo work.

This was a beautiful way to start our ABT Met season. Our next show is June 2 with The Bright Stream, which was an ABT premiere last year that we did not get to see.