The Sylphide

August Bournonville

The Sylphide, a ballet in two acts by Filippo Taglioni (1777-1871), premiered on 12 March 1832 at the former Paris Opéra Le Pelletier to a score by Jean Schneitzhoeffer and libretto by Adolphe Nourrit. This ballet inspired the version of the same name by August Bournonville (1805-1879) on 28 November 1836, with music by Herman S. Løvenskiold; Bournonville, who had attended the performance of the work in Paris four years earlier, bought the booklet with Nourrit's libretto that day, which he would use without modification, resulting in two works with identical dramaturgy coexisting for a time on the European stages.

The Paris Sylphide did not survive, as did an earlier one performed at the Teatro della Scala in Milan in 1822 with music by Rossini. However, choreographer August Bournonville's version, with music by Herman S. Løvenskiold, becomes the oldest ballet from the Romantic period preserved in the international active repertoire with the greatest choreographic fidelity.

The ballet The Sylphide, the initiator of the current of works on elemental spirits and a great metaphor for frustrated love, was the first great ballet to become popular in Madrid, with multiple stagings and versions, and from 1842 it was performed alternately in two theatres in the capital: the Teatro del Príncipe and the Teatro del Circo.

Bournonville, with the help of two local painters reproduced in detail at the Royal Theatre in Copenhagen the original Parisian designs of Pierre Ciceri (scenography) and Eugène Lami (costumes), designs that still literally inspire today's ballet productions.

  • World premiere by: the Royal Danish Ballet at the Royal Danish Theater, Copenhague (Denmark), the 28th of November, 1836
  • Premiere by the Compañía Nacional de Danza: at the Teatro de la Zarzuela, Madrid (Spain), on December 7, 2023


A sylph, a restless and mischievous spirit of the air, bursts into the rural mansion of the Scottish countryside where the wedding of Effie and James, two young people from two ancient local families, is being prepared. The sylph falls in love at first sight with the handsome farmer who dozes off in an armchair, making herself visible to him. Meanwhile, the old Madge, dedicated to necromancy and witchcraft, who lives in the shadowy nearby woods, spurred on by the happiness of Effie and her young friends, plots a cruel revenge after being rejected by James. Events unfold until the tragic outcome in which the sylph dies as a victim of a deadly spell.


  • Choreography:
    August Bournonville
  • Music:
    Herman Severin Løvenskiold
  • Screenplay:
    Adolphe Nourrit (transcribed by August Bournonville in 1836)
  • Staging:
    Petrusjka Broholm
  • Scenography Design:
    Elisa Sanz
  • Costume Design:
    Tania Bakunova
  • Lighting Design:
    Nicolás Fischtel
  • Scenography Creation:
  • Costumes Made By:
    D’Inzillo Sweet Mode
  • Running time:
    90 minutes
  • Premiere cast CND:
    La Sílfide: Yaman Kelemet; James: Thomas Giugovaz; Effie: Martina Giuffrida; Madge: Irene Ureña; Gurn: Jorge Palacios; Anna: Eva Pérez; Jack A: Juan José Carazo; Jack B: Erez Ilan; Nancy: Shani Peretz; Escocesas: Natalia Butragueño, Celia Dávila, Tamara Juárez, Sara Khatiboun, Mariavittoria Muscettola, Ayuka Nitta, Laura Pérez Hierro, Samantha Vottari, Kana Yamaguchi; Escoceses: Niccolò Balossini, José Alberto Becerra, Théo Bourg, Eduardo Díez de Jesús, Daniel Lozano, Shlomi Shlomo Miara, Iván Sánchez, Roberto Sánchez; Sílfides: Natalia Butragueño, Celia Dávila, Sara Khatiboun, Akane Kogure, Clara Maroto, Mariavittoria Muscettola, Ayuka Nitta, Daniella Oropesa, Shani Peretz, Ana Pérez-Nievas, Laura Pérez Hierro, Pauline Perraut, Samantha Vottari, Kana Yamaguchi; Brujas: Niccolò Balossini, José Alberto Becerra, Théo Bourg, Eduardo Díez de Jesús; Cortejo nupcial: Tamara Juárez, Shlomi Shlomo Miara, Roberto Sánchez