La Sylphide

QPAC Playhouse (Queensland Ballet)


The Queensland Ballet enthralls us with a sweet, sad tale of love found then lost to a phantasm. This production of Peter Schaufuss’ La Sylphide has never before been performed in Australia.

All the world is happy on the morning of the marriage in Scotland of James (danced authoritatively by Hao Bin) and his beloved Effie, danced with freshness and vigour by Eleanor Freeman. As James sleeps in this idyllic scene something of mystery happens. The winged figure of The Sylph (Clare Morehen) kneels by his side and kisses him on the forehead. Morehen moves with characteristic grace and elegance. Soon the lovestruck groom is entranced and tries to capture her. What fickle creatures men are!

The twists and turns of love’s labour lost gives wonderful scope for the QB dancers to lead us on a beautiful journey, sometimes merry, sometimes melancholy.

The great Janette Mulligan plays the deliciously sinister role of an old woman, Madge, stirring alarm and despondency amongst the confused lovers. Mulligan is not only the ballet mistress of QB but is also an accomplished actor who brings the story alive.

James (Hao Bin) leaps and loves with a fierce passion; yet he is lured away into the forest to follow The Sylph (Clare Morehen) leaving poor Effie (Eleanor Freeman) broken-hearted.

Act 2 rises on a glade in a Scottish forest. In a scene reminiscent of Macbeth, Madge uses a magic cauldron to make a veil irresistible to all.

Not wanting to let a chance go by, a rival suitor for Effie, Gurn (Emilio Pavan) proposes to Effie.

In a twinkling of an eye they depart for their marriage. Everyone seems to love a good wedding, even if Effie changes grooms mid-plot!

And what happens to James’ passionate love for The Sylph? Well, the reader should go to see the ballet in order to find out. Suffice it to say that one should not go in anticipation of a happy ending. This is not The Nutcracker.

The Queensland Symphony Orchestra plays beautifully under the conducting of Andrew Mogrelia. The sell-out crowds attending Queensland Ballet performances are compelling evidence of high standards and magnificent productions. In August the company will tour La Sylphide to the UK where the dancers will perform at the historic London Coliseum.

Choreographer: Peter Schaufuss
Music: Composed by Herman Lovenskjold played by the Queensland Symphony
Orchestra conducted by Andrew Mogrelia
Set and costume designer: David Walker
Lighting designer: Steen Bjarke
Stagers: Mary Li and Janette Mulligan
Duration: 2 hours with one 20 minute interval
Performances from 20 to 31 March 2015

— Matt Foley
(Performance seen: Mon 23rd March 2015)