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.