In her debut for the Royal Ballet here, Natalia Osipova gives everything of herself in a performance in which she enriches each tiny moment with such intensity and detail that you are almost afraid for her.
Natalia Osipova in Giselle Photo: Tristram Kenton
As the young peasant girl she is rapturously febrile and painfully vulnerable - every leap, every balance suffused with a quiet, private fragility. Whereas many interpreters allow Giselle’s weak heart to be forgotten in moments of frivolity, Osipova reminds you persistently with fearful clutches at her chest and fleeting, discreet expressions of panic.
Her ‘mad scene’ is terrifyingly real - her limbs alive in a frenzied storm of hurt, her movements skittish and thrillingly unpredictable. By the time her body falls silent and limp to the floor she looks genuinely drained of life, her transition to the spirit world inevitable.
She drifts out from the shadows in Act II like a pale whisper, reaching towards Carlos Acosta’s heartbroken Albrecht with soft, forgiving arms. As Myrtha (Hikaru Kobayashi) lifts her veil she blows through the air with a haunting lightness, leaping and spinning so fast you half expect contrails to appear in her wake.
With such a shattering central performance, it would be easy to overlook the rest of the cast were they not on top form. Fortunately, Osipova’s presence seems to elevate the entire company. Valentino Zucchetti draws deserving applause for his finessed tours in the Pas de Six, as do the corps for their sensitive unity in Act II.
There are not enough superlatives to describe the divinely gifted Natalia Osipova or her interpretation of Giselle. To watch her perform is the utmost privilege.