Swiss harpist; Yankee raconteur; Italian commedia fables; 'Giselle'

After the jolting losses of their artistic director, president, and several top dancers this past summer, the Boston Ballet badly needed a spirited performance to kick off its 21st season. To that end, interim artistic director Bruce Wells acquired star Canadian dancer Frank Augustyn for the year, and immediately cast him as Albrecht in the company's season debut, ''Giselle.'' Unfortunately, from seeing the production last weekend, it is clear that the Boston Ballet needs more than a famous cousin to revive its sagging ranks.

That's not to say that there aren't plenty of reasons for hope. Marie-Christine Mouis (as the Queen) and her Wilis (especially Pamela Royal and Stephanie Moy) cast a spell of beauty mixed with terror over the second act. Notably, they worked as a harmonious ensemble as few Boston Ballet corps have before.

But the power and harmony with which these women danced was rarely evident the rest of the evening, especially in Elaine Bauer's performance as Giselle. Miss Bauer is a fine, technically proficient dancer, but she is not a romantic ballerina, lacking the vital elements of innocence and charm. Thus, without a strongly etched partner, Augustyn failed to present the riveting, buoyant Albrecht he was expected to. In fact, besides the zesty Peasant Pas de Deux (by Devon Carney and Lori Nowak), the first act was flat.

It is plain from watching ''Giselle'' that someone at the company needs to round up the family, so to speak, assign the right people to the right chores, and give them all a good old-fashioned pep talk. Until that is done, the Boston Ballet will remain ''a house divided.''

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