Teatro alla Scala Ballet Company
Director Frédéric Olivieri
Ballet in two acts by Jules-Henry Vernoy de Saint-Georges from Théophile Gautier
Jean Coralli - Jules Perrot
Choreographic restaging Yvette Chauviré
Set and costumes design
Elaborated by Angelo Sala and Cinzia Rosselli
Production Teatro alla Scala
A tale of love, betrayal and redemption set amid joyous peasant celebrations and the pallid host of Wilis, as fascinating as they are ruthless: Giselle, the romantic ballet par excellence, continues to attract audiences with its contrast between a sunny world and a dark and terrible kingdom inhabited by spirits. The peasant girl Giselle and Prince Albrecht are two paradigmatic roles in the academic repertoire. As the choreography unfolds, the principals are required to vary the technical and expressive register from carefree jollity to despair, from easy-going self-assuredness to the awareness that life has no purpose without love. Giselle encompasses all the elements of the romantic ballet: La Scala’s Ballet Company will perform once again the unforgettable Coralli-Perrot choreography in the revival by Yvette Chauviré who, through her sophisticated interpretation of roles such as Giselle, has celebrated the classical tradition in all its purity. In her version of Giselle, performed at La Scala for the first time in 1950, it was Chauviré herself who starred as the ill-fated peasant girl who dreamt of love and loved to dance. And all this is enriched by the settings by Aleksandr Benois that are hold in the Scala’s repertoire. Giselle, protagonist of the recent Scala seasons and international tours, is now staged as an homage to Yvette Chauviré herself, extraordinary artist recently died.
The virtuosity of Giselle consists in making the technique invisible. I studied all possible choreographic evolving’s, entrances and stage exit, and the “downtimes” - if they can be called like that - between the enchaînements, the floating of the arabesques and the breathing pose of the arms. When I was dancing, my obsession was to make people forget the carnality of the feet…always too human, to whom it was necessary to give the feeling of “the appearance of a breath”
HISTORY OF THE THEATRE
The Ballet Company of Teatro alla Scala has a glorious past dating back to the centuries prior to the opening in 1778 of the world’s most celebrated musical theatre, which is still its home today. Even before the founding of the Imperial-Royal Academy of Ballet of La Scala in 1813, eminent choreographers such as Gasparo Angiolini and Salvatore Viganò held great influence over European ballet. Then, the illustrious teacher and theorist, Carlo Blasis, introduced the ballet into the Romanticist atmosphere, thus contributing to the technical innovation of its style. Enrico Cecchetti took the Italian style of teaching academic technique to Russia, from where it evolved around the world thanks to Sergei Diaghilev’s Ballets Russes which he joined before ending his career at La Scala.
And so, the Ballet Company of La Scala entered the twentieth century, thanks also to remarkable choreographers from Diaghilev’s company such as Mikhail Fokin and Léonide Massine. New names arrived from the worlds of the free and expressionist dance of Central Europe, names such as Aurel Milloss, whom Arturo Toscanini charged with the task of rebuilding the Company following the Second World War. For his repertoire, Milloss invited great musicians and celebrated set designers and painters, as well as illustrious guests such as George Balanchine. In the 1950s and 1960s, La Scala became a stage open to the stars of the world of ballet. The choreographers Roland Petit and Maurice Béjart debuted in 1963 and 1971 respectively, while the étoiles included Carla Fracci, Liliana Cosi, Luciana Savignano, Paolo Bortoluzzi. Guest appearances were made by Margot Fonteyn and Yvette Chauviré, as well as Rudolf Nureyev, who became closely associated with La Scala from 1965, as did Alessandra Ferri in the 1990s.
More recently, the Ballet Company of La Scala has grown in international visibility, performing at the Paris Opéra, in the United States, at the Bolshoi in Moscow and the Mariinsky-Kirov Theatre in Saint Petersburg, in Germany, Turkey, Brazil, Spain, Mexico, China and Australia. The expressive and technical appeal are guaranteed by three star names: Svetlana Zakharova, Roberto Bolle and Massimo Murru. But even some young principal dancers, soloists and members of the corps de ballet have been included in leading roles, initially by the much-loved Elisabetta Terabust, former director at La Scala (from 1993 to 1997, and again in 2007-2008) who recently died, and then by Makhar Vaziev (from 2009 to 2015), who also opted for internationally much-sought-after guests. In the conviction that, overall, a company should excel in rigour and versatility, great conductors have been called to the podium for the ballet, a further attraction for a Theatre and central to international musical life. An Italian, Mauro Bigonzetti, has alternated with Vaziev, albeit for only one season. Since October 2016, the leadership of the Ballet Company has again been entrusted to Frédéric Olivieri, previously director between 2002 and 2007. With renewed energy, he has enlarged the hierarchy and, today, among the principal dancers are to be found Nicoletta Manni, Claudio Coviello, Virna Toppi, Martina Arduino and Timofej Andrijashenko, while some of the soloists include names such as Massimo Garon, Marco Agostino, Vittoria Valerio, Federico Fresi, Alessandra Vassallo, Christian Fagetti, Nicola Del Freo and Maria Celeste Losa. From the ranks of the corps de ballet, young dancers are emerging, trained at the Ballet School, which is the Company’s - but not only - main source of new members, while also prominent entrées are frequently reserved for “additional dancers”. Olivieri is working to complement the academic repertoire with creations dedicated to the Ballet Company of La Scala: indeed, a great Company is distinguished by the care and attention it devotes to its young talents and by its ability to project itself towards ballet that reflects our times.