A Folk Tale

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A Folk Tale (Et folkesagn) is a ballet in three acts created in 1854 for the Royal Danish Ballet by the Danish balletmaster and choreographer August Bournonville. The music was composed by Johan Peter Emilius Hartmann and Niels W. Gade. Set in the Middle Ages, the ballet tells the story of a changeling living among the trolls and elves. Bournonville declared the ballet, "The most complete and best of all my choreographic works."


Act I. The wealthy but fickle Birthe enjoys a forest outing with friends. She flirts with Sir Mogens though her bethrothed, the handsome Junker Ove is present. When the party leaves for home, Ove remains behind. An elf-hill nearby opens. Hilda, an elf-girl, tries to lure Ove into the hill with a magic drink in a gold cup. Ove refuses the drink. Hilda returns to the elf-hill. The sorceress, Muri, conjures up a bevy of elf-girls who dance with Ove and leave him deranged.

Act II. In the elf-hill, troll brothers Diderik and Viderik both woo Hilda. Diderik, the elder, has the right of priority. Viderik protests, but his mother scolds him. In a dream, Hilda sees trolls take a human child from a cradle and steal a gold cup. Hilda recognizes the dream cup as the one she offered Ove. Hilda suspects she is the human child in the dream and becomes uneasy. The wedding of Hilda and Diderik is celebrated with a feast. The trolls become drunk and Hilda flees.

Act III. In scene 1, Hilda dances near a holy spring as harvesters pass by. Mogens is...
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