Carlotta Grisi as Giselle the year after the premiere
The Paris Opera Ballet (then the Ballet du Théâtre de l’Académie Royale de Musique) premiered the romantic tragedy Giselle on the 28th of June 1841. The first performance featured Italian ballerina Carlotta Grisi in the title role.
To this day Giselle is considered one of the most important ballets, and the role of Giselle is considered the Hamlet of ballet roles, as it is the most prestigious and dramatic, requiring good technique and superb acting skills.
The story is of a nobleman, Albrecht, who falls in love with a peasant girl, Giselle, and disguises himself as a commoner to be with her. When his real fiancée arrives, Giselle goes mad and dies, becoming one of the ghostly Wilis, spirits destined to spend eternity gaining revenge for their early deaths. Giselle manages to save Albrecht from this fate.