La Sylphide

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La Sylphide
MarieTaglioni.jpg
Marie Taglioni as La Sylphide
Choreographed by Filippo Taglioni
Composed by Jean-Madeleine Schneitzhoeffer
Libretto by Adolphe Nourrit
Based on Trilby, ou Le lutin d'Argail
Date of premiere March 12, 1832
Place of premiere Théâtre de l'Académie Royale de Musique
Original ballet company Ballet du Théâtre de l'Académie Royale de Musique
Characters The Sylph
James
Effie
Gurn
Old Madge
Setting Scotland
Created for Marie Taglioni
Genre Ballet-pantomime
Ballet-fantastique
Type Romantic ballet

La Sylphide (English: The Sylph) is a romantic ballet. It was created for Marie Taglioni by her father Filippo Taglioni to showcase her talents. The ballet was first performed in the Salle Le Peletier in Paris on March 12, 1832. The ballet was a great success. Taglioni was regarded as the greatest ballerina of the age.

Story of the ballet[change | change source]

The ballet is set in Scotland. James is on the eve of marrying Effie. Gurn also loves Effie. James is distracted by a vision of a lovely sylph. Old Madge, a witch, reads palms. She declares Gurn will be the husband of Effie. James grows angry and throws her out into the storm. The wedding preparations start. The sylph appears and steals the wedding ring. James runs after her into the forest. Effie is consoled in the arms of Gurn.

In the forest, the sylph and James dally romantically. The sylph summons her sister sylphs. They entertain James with several dances. He wants to capture the sylph, and asks Old Madge for her help. She gives him a poisoned scarf, but tells him he can capture the sylph with it. He wraps the sylph in the scarf. Her wings fall off and she dies. James sees a wedding procession led by Gurn and Effie. He faints and dies. Old Madge has had her revenge.

Danish choreography[change | change source]

In November 1836, August Bournonville choreographed his version to music by Herman Severin Løvenskiold for the Royal Danish Ballet. Taglioni's choreography has been lost, but Bournonville's exists and is still danced in Copenhagen. In 1972, Pierre Lacotte reconstructed Taglioni's choreography from prints, notes, and other materials.

Romantic Ballets
Sketch of a female ballet dancer posing en pointe in a mid-length, white dress; her hair and bodice are covered in orange flowers

The Ballet of the Nuns (1831)
La Sylphide (1832)
Giselle (1841)
Napoli (1842)
Pas de Quatre (1845)
Paquita (1846)
Coppélia (1870)