La Sylphide

Ballet romantique in 2 acts


libretto Adolph Nourri, Filipp Taglioni
choreography Auguste Bournonville
in the reduction of Elza-Marianna fon Rosen
restored Elena Vinogradova
set designer Viatcheslav Okunev
costume designer Irina Press


Act I

(A Scottish farmhouse)

On the eve of his wedding James, a young Scotsman, sees a vision of an enchanting, winged sylphide. She is an ethereal spirit of the air, who has fallen in love with him. James is captivated by the beautiful sylphide but, as he tries to touch her, she disappears into thin air. A party of guests and friends arrive with Effie, James's bride-to-be. James is distracted, still haunted by the memory of the sylphide. Lost in thought, he gazes at the spot where she vanished. In his mind he still sees her and reaches out as though she is still there. However, instead of the beautiful sylphide, a hideous figure steps out of the darkness. It is Old Madge, the village sorceress. Her filthy appearance and ravaged face cast a shadow over the celebration. James's initial fear turns to anger and Effie tries to calm him. Old Madge starts to tell Effie's fortune. She predicts that Effie will not marry James, but his friend, Gurn, a Scottish peasant, who is also in love with her. James loses his temper and sends Old Madge away. The party resumes and, in the general dancing and merrymaking, everyone shortly forgets the unpleasant scene. At the height of the party the sylphide reappears. She beckons to James and they vanish together. Effie is hearbroken.


Act II

(In the forest)

Outside a cave in the forest Old Madge is busy casting evil spells. She traces a magic circle on the ground and places a huge cauldron in the centre. Witches hurry to join her and the cauldron begins to boil. Old Madge conjures up from the cauldron a magic scarf, which is incredibly beautiful but deadly poisonous. The witches depart.

James and the sylphide arrive, very much in love. She shows James her magic kingdom and then flies away. James is left all alone and Old Madge reappears. She asks if he needs any help, and produces the magic scarf. She explains that if he puts the scarf around the sylphide's shoulders, she will never be able to fly again and will be his forever on earth. James seizes the scarf and goes in search of the sylphide. However when he finds her and places the scarf on her shoulders, he is horrified to see that it brings her great pain. In front of his stricken gaze, her wings fall to the ground and then in agony she sinks lifeless at his feet. Mourning sylphs appear and carry their dead friend away, over the tree tops and out of sight. The silence in the forest is broken by the sound of a bagpipe and joyful ringing of bells. A bridal procession is glimpsed through the trees: It is a triumphant Gurn leading Effie to the church.