Watch Party: La Sylphide
La Sylphide is one of the jewels of Romantic ballet. With its “enchanting blend of dance and storytelling” (The Independent), it might just steal your heart. Expect ceilidh-loving Scots, ethereal forest spirits and vengeful witches! Watch trailer.
On the morning of his wedding to his sweet fiancée Effy, James awakens from a dream to see a mysterious and tantalising Sylphide before him. His obsession with her sets off a fateful sequence of events where joy turns to sorrow, love to betrayal and infatuation to tragedy.
August Bournonville’s classic ballet is devotedly recreated by Eva Kloborg, Frank Andersen and Anne Marie Vessel Schlüter in this captivating production, and is accompanied by a charming score, played live by English National Ballet Philharmonic.
This performance was filmed at the Manchester Palace Theatre in 2017 as part of English National Ballet’s Autumn Tour. The work will be available to view online in full, for free, for 48 hours only.
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MEET THE PRINCIPAL CAST
Anne Marie Vessel Schlüter
Herman Severin Løvenskiold
Young James is shortly to marry his betrothed, Effy. He slumbers in his armchair. The Sylphide sits by his feet. She is in love with James and wakes him by kissing his forehead before vanishing through the chimney in the fireplace. James is spellbound and searches for the Sylphide, and his preoccupation with an invisible world confounds him. He barely notices Effy, who is courted by another young suitor, Gurn.
Preparations for the wedding are under way but are brought to a standstill when the sorcerer Madge suddenly appears. Despite James’s protest, the young girls, including Effy, have their fortunes told. According to the soothsayer, Gurn rather than James is to wed Effy. This rouses James’s anger and he sends the sorcerer on her way.
When James is alone in the living room, the Sylphide appears again. She lets him know that her destiny is forever tied to his and declares her love for him. James hesitates but only for a moment and is once again infatuated by her charm. Gurn has witnessed the scene and seeks to reveal the nature of James’s true love to the wedding guests. They brush his accusations aside and the ceremony, James has disappeared. He has left for the woods with the Sylphide and the poor bride-to-be is heartbroken.
Madge has summoned the witches for a gathering in the misty forest. They concoct a magic potion and weave a pink veil. Meanwhile the Sylphide has led James to her kingdom in the woods. When she asks James if he loves her, he hesitantly declares his love. The Sylphide’s many sisters dance for him.
The wedding guests search for James in the woods. Gurn finds his cap while Madge tells him of James’s infidelity. Gurn then plucks up the courage to propose to Effy who reluctantly accepts.
James is alone in the forest. He is torn between the Sylphide and Effy. Madge appears and promises to make the Sylphide return. She gives him the pink veil and tells him that the veil is to be used to capture the Sylphide. When the Sylphide returns, James follows Madge’s instructions. He wraps the Sylphide round in the veil and her fate is sealed. She has lost her freedom, loses her wings, and dies. Madge is delighted, and while Gurn leads Effy to the alter, the Sylphide is carried through the air by her sisters. James is shattered and sinks to the ground.
“An enchanting blend of dance and storytelling.”
“Glorious, bonkers fun, full of ceilidh-loving Scotsmen, vengeful witches and spirits.”
“Done well, as it is by ENB, it is a treasure of a ballet, not only for its historical importance but also as a highly effective fairy tale.”