The Verona Arena Ballet commissioned a Stravinsky evening from local-boy Renato Zanella, best known for his work in Stuttgart and Vienna. He chose Apollon Musagète and The Firebird – brave considering that the stage pictures and choreographic shapes are burned into every ballet-lover's memory.
In fact it was impossible to remove George Balanchine's choreographic genius from the mind when it was replaced by Zanella's rather bland steps during Apollon Musagète. Giuseppe Picone was a technically precise Apollo and gave the audience some thrills with his high leaps and soft landings – a believable Greek god.
The Firebird (L'Oiseau de feu) was rather better. Greek ballerina Maria Kousouni was strong as the Firebird and Zanella seemed to be more a home with a precise story to convey.
The evening concluded with the presentation of flowers by Zanella to a ballerina who gave her last performance with the company that evening. Lisa Sorrentino though started with the company as Gaetano Sorrentino – an oddity which must be a first for a traditional ballet company.
Graham Spicer is a writer, director and photographer in Milan, blogging (under the name ‘Gramilano') about dance, opera, music and photography for people “who are a bit like me and like some of the things I like”. He was a regular columnist for Opera Now magazine and wrote for the BBC until transferring to Italy.
His scribblings have appeared in various publications from Woman's Weekly to Gay Times, and he wrote the ‘Danza in Italia' column for Dancing Times magazine.