Jul 292014

Aran Bell and Ester Wells being coached by Cynthia Harvey

The En Avant Found­a­tion — “for Spe­cial­ised Bal­let Coach­ing, Ment­or­ing and the Award­ing of Schol­ar­ships” — has had its first ever event in New York City at the Bary­sh­nikov Arts Cen­ter.

Young pro­fes­sion­als and advanced level bal­let stu­dents arrived from all over Amer­ica for the week­end: 14 stu­dents one day, and 16 on the second.  Two girls had been with the Paris Opera Bal­let school, oth­ers came from Bal­let Academy East, the ABT corps de bal­let, the ABT Stu­dio Com­pany, the Jac­queline Kennedy Onas­sis School, Magaly Suarez’s school in Flor­ida, one boy who trains with Fabrice Her­rault, a girl from Pennsylvania Ballet’s appren­tice pro­gramme, and oth­ers from dance stu­dios in Prin­ceton and Con­necti­cut.
…con­tinue reading.

Jul 272014

I was born a labourer, before I was a singer I was a black­smith and a mech­anic. My father was a miner. I was in the chorus. Obvi­ously I under­stand the trade uni­ons. But this is another story altogether.

Leo NucciLeo Nucci is com­ment­ing on the con­tinu­ous threats by the uni­ons in Rome, res­ult­ing in per­form­ances by the Rome Opera at the Cara­calla Baths going on without the orches­tra in front of a crowd of 4,000, mainly tour­ists. The bloated organ­iz­a­tion has been los­ing money for years, and, although 70% of the work­ers under­stand that there are prob­lems which need to be resolved, the uni­ons rep­res­ent­ing the remain­ing 30% are hold­ing out. The dir­ector of the theatre, Carlo Fuor­tes, said,

At this point we have no altern­at­ive but to shut the theatre down.

This has been threatened many times over the past months, but talk­ing to theatre work­ers I find that no one really really believes than in Italy, home of opera, that the cap­ital could lose its opera house. Nucci continues,

When I read that the first viol­in­ist worked only 62 days in 6 months I get angry. In hos­pit­als, the work­ers can’t accept out­side jobs, yet in the theatre… They ask me if we can do the dress rehears­als earlier. Ok. Then I learn it’s because the theatre’s soloists have con­certs else­where. …con­tinue reading.

Jul 262014

bergonzi_carloCarlo Ber­gonzi, one of the greatest ten­ors of the 20th Cen­tury, died last night in Milan’s Auxo­lo­gico Insti­tute, just two weeks after cel­eb­rat­ing his 90th birth­day on 13 July.

Ber­gonzi was born in Vidalenzo di Poles­ine Par­mense near Parma in 1924 and at 16 he stud­ied as a bari­tone in Parma’s Arrigo Boito Con­ser­vatoire. At 19, dur­ing the Second World War he fin­ished in a hard labour camp in Ger­many. When he returned to Italy he con­tin­ued his stud­ies in Bres­cia. His début was in 1947 in a small theatre in Varedo, just out­side Milan, as Figaro in Il bar­biere di Siviglia. For sev­eral years he con­tin­ued as a bari­tone, even singing Rigo­letto when he was still very young. While singing in a pro­duc­tion of Madama But­ter­fly in Livorno in 1950 he dis­covered, while in his dress­ing room, that he could hit a high-C, and the next year he made his début as a tenor in Andrea Chénier in Bari.

As 1951 was the 50th Anniversary of the death of Verdi, he was signed up by Rai radio to record  Gio­vanna d’Arco, Simon Boc­canegra and I due Foscari. He made three import­ant débuts in 1953 at La Scala, the Stoll Theatre in Lon­don at at the Teatro Colon in Buenos Aires. In 1955 he embarked on a career in Amer­ica, first at Chicago, and the fol­low­ing year at the Met­ro­pol­itan Opera in New York. …con­tinue reading.

Jul 252014

Carmen, Medea, Cassandra, Il processoCar­men, Medea and Cas­sandra… just ima­gine all three around a din­ner table… a dip­lo­matic night­mare. For Italian cho­reo­grapher Luciano Can­nito they have provided him with inspir­a­tion for a new pièce: part dance, part poetry.

Called ‘Il pro­cesso’ — The Trial — it gives these three women a chance to tell their side of their story, stor­ies which are uni­ver­sal and still poignant today.

The baller­ina Ros­sella Bres­cia — Cannito’s wife and muse — star with act­ress Vanessa Grav­ina with the dan­cer Amil­car Moret and actor Gen­naro Di Biase at their sides. The soloists and corps of the DCE Dan­zItalia com­pany are also on stage. …con­tinue reading.

Jul 252014

Carlo Di Lanno with Polina Semionova in Swan Lake - photo Brescia/Amisano Teatro alla Scala

Italy’s Got Tal­ent. Lots of it. Some­times that tal­ent finds it dif­fi­cult to emerge — it’s not always what you know but who you know — and some­times there’s not enough room for every­one to show what they can do, but tal­ent there is.

Italy bursts at the seams with paint­ings and monu­ments, a reminder that Italy Had Tal­ent, but still today, in all cre­at­ive fields, there are many remark­able artists to be found in this remark­able country.

Bal­let has a pecu­liar pos­i­tion in Italian cul­ture: it is opera’s poor rela­tion, and recent drastic cuts in state sub­sidy have led to the clos­ure of many dance groups, and those that remain have been stripped to the bone. It is not a good time for Italian ballet.

The com­pan­ies of La Scala and the Rome Opera Bal­let are the only ones who can pro­duce a full bal­let sea­son, though the num­ber of per­form­ances in com­par­ison with sim­ilar com­pan­ies else­where in the world is ris­ible. Nureyev’s highly pop­u­lar Don Quix­ote at La Scala in Septem­ber with Osipova, Rojo, Vasiliev and Sara­fanov, boasts eleven per­form­ances (the Royal Bal­let will do 18 Don Qs in its upcom­ing autumn sea­son), but take away the six per­form­ances with guest artists and it leaves just five for the loc­als. And there’s the rub, without those thirty back-breaking Nut­rack­ers at Christ­mas, without put­ting on one show while rehears­ing another (rarely needed at La Scala where, this sea­son, there were just six dif­fer­ent pro­grammes to pre­pare), and without doing long runs of each bal­let, there is little oppor­tun­ity to dance, to dance on stage, and to dance in front of an audi­ence. …con­tinue reading.