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In the midst of the Middle Ages, nestled near the River Rhine, lies a village surrounded by vineyards. Prior to the festivities, villagers head to the vineyards to gather the last remaining clusters of grapes. Count Albrecht of Silesia finds himself drawn to Giselle, an innocent and beautiful peasant girl. Despite being engaged to Bathilde, the daughter of the Duke of Courland, Albrecht disguises himself as a farmer named 'Loys' to win Giselle's affection. Giselle, unaware of Loys's true identity, reciprocates his love. Meanwhile, another peasant named Hilarion harbors feelings for Giselle and endeavors to convince her of Loys's untrustworthiness. Similarly, Giselle's very protective mother, Berthe, fears that her daughter's involvement with Loys will further jeopardize her delicate health, but Giselle disregards all warnings. Due to her weak heart, Giselle cannot go grape-picking like the other villagers and prefers to stay at home. However, she passionately loves dancing and excels at it, earning admiration from the villagers. A group of nobles, including Bathilde and her father, visit the village and are warmly welcomed. Bathilde is captivated by Giselle's dignified demeanor and presents her with a necklace during the festivities. Hilarion discovers Albrecht's hidden sword, confirming his true identity as a nobleman, and reveals the truth to Giselle, causing shock and dismay among the attendees. Bathilde promptly informs Giselle of her engagement to Albrecht. Unable to bear the truth, Giselle's frail heart succumbs, and she breathes her last in the arms of Albrecht.
The second act takes place in the forest where Giselle's grave lies. Hilarion mourns beside Giselle's tomb. As the Wilis, spirits of maidens betrayed by their beloveds and who died before their weddings, emerge, Hilarion recoils in fear. The Wilis, rising from their graves at midnight, commence a haunting dance, ensnaring every man they encounter in a eternal waltz until exhaustion takes their lives. By Queen Myrtha's order, the Wilis dance in honor of Giselle joining them. Albrecht arives with flowers for the grave. In that moment, Giselle's spirit materializes, and Albrecht begs Giselle for forgiveness. Meanwhile, the Wilis corner Hilarion. They first make him dance to his death, then condemn Albrecht to dance until he dies. Yet, the power of Giselle's love for Albrecht protects him. Until the first light of dawn, Giselle dances with Albrecht, until the Wilis lose their strength. Then, as the morning sun rises, Giselle's spirit fades from sight, leaving Albrecht alone in the embrace of the sunrise. The boundless power of love has saved him.