Monday, October 07, 2013

Michael O'Sullivan's Giselle

If you like ballet, you might be familiar with Giselle, which tells the story about a peasant girl - Giselle - who dies broken-hearted after finding out the man she loves is engaged to someone else. She then awakens from her grave as one of the Wilis - the spirits of women jilted by their lovers and who died before their weddings - led by their merciless queen Myrtha. The power of the Wilis lies in the fact that they lure men into the forest at night, and make them dance to their deaths...

Photographer Michael O'Sullivan has portrayed this story in four photographs. He says of the series that Giselle "is a timeless story of desire, hope, love, loss, life and death. To me, it also deals with the conflict between the free will which we think we possess and the external forces which also drive our choices and determine out fates (...) I really wanted to take just a portion of the Giselle story and to bring it to life in a real-world setting". So here are the four photos, together with O'Sullivan's own texts:

Giselle rejects Loys when she discovers he is really Duke Albrecht. Moyna watches from the forest.

Giselle succumbs to loneliness and depression after she rejects Loys/Duke Albrecht. The scar on her arm hints at what lies ahead... Moyna watches, calling from the forest.

Giselle dies broken-hearted, and her spirit joins the Wilis, the ghosts of other jilted brides who died before they were wed. Together they roam the forest at night, seeking revenge on any man who may enter their forest realm...

A mournful Albrecht follows Giselle's risen spirit into the forest, where he encounters the Wilis and their queen Myrta. Having just danced Hilarion to the brink of death, and finished him off by drowning him in a nearby lake, they then turn their attention to Albrecht. They force him to dance through the night, ignoring his pleas, and the pleas of a forgiving Giselle. An exhausted Albrecht turns towards the breaking dawn, pleading for mercy while Myrta and Moyna stand over him, forcing him to get up and continue his dance towards his doom...

If you want the whole synopsis of Giselle, you can find it here. And I can highly recommend the ballet! It's very tragic, very romantic, and very cruel...


  1. These look wonderful doll, so enchanting, love the scenes and costumes, they look amazing. It would be even better to see them in real life :)) But, the pictures do a great job of transporting me there!! I hope your weekend was bliss doll & your new week will be too xoxoxo

  2. I'd never heard this story before Miss Meadows but to say that my interest is well and truly peaked right now would be an understatement, so morbid and macabre yet awesome. I know how the poor woman feels, that disappointment of finding a loved one is taken, the photos capture it tremendously, even with the wicked intentions!

  3. Ohhh what fantastic photos! I saw "Giselle" earlier this year when the Paris Opera Ballet were in Sydney and I was blown away. I loved the tragic story and honestly it was one of the most visually stunning things I have ever seen. Thanks so much for sharing these.


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