Ballet in two acts (1836) by August Bournonville (1805–1879)
After Adolphe Nourrit’s libretto to the ballet La Sylphide (1832) by Filippo Taglioni
Music by Herman Severin Lovenskjøld (1815–1870)
Choreography by August Bournonville in the version by Elsa Marianne von Rosen
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Moonlight, mysterious creatures in a forest glade, feather- light pointe work, and a gauzy tutu – these are the ingredients of romantic ballet, which had its inception with La Sylphide. The Italian dancer and ballet master Filippo Taglioni enjoyed a resounding triumph when his choreography premiered at the Paris Opera in 1832. He had devised the ballet for his daughter Marie Taglioni to dance the Sylphide, a mythical creature who enchants a young man but whose love for this mortal causes her to perish. With her interpretation of the role, Taglioni established a worldwide reputation as a superb dancer. More significantly, she made herself the prototype of a modern ballerina and achieved a breakthrough for the art of dancing en pointe.
The setting is once again the Scottish Highlands, where mythical creatures, witches and elves lurk among the dense forest. Asleep in his hut, the shepherd James is awaiting daybreak. It is a special day: he is due to marry his fiancée Effie. But in the early dawn hours, a winged fairy suddenly materialises, falls in love with the shepherd, and wakes him with a kiss. This has grave consequences.