Hardy Classics, together with Italy's RAI television, announced the release of two DVDs, both filmed at Teatro alla Scala in 1978, and both representing Milan's theatre at its best: La Forza del Destino and the ballet Excelsior.
Its enough to read down the cast lists to get an idea of the quality of these productions. La Forza del Destino with Montserrat Caballé, Josè Carreras, Piero Cappuccilli, Nicolai Ghiaurov, Sesto Bruscantini, Maria Luisa Nave, and Giuseppe Patané conducting; Excelsior starring ballet icon Carla Fracci with Anna Razzi, Paolo Bortoluzzi and Bruno Telloli. Sig.ra Fracci together with Carreras presented the DVDs, and with them were various members of the original production teams.
Carla Fracci, looking twenty years younger than her 74 years, commented, after seeing a video clip, on the high technical level of the La Scala company in those years, and how present government cuts were damaging Italy's ballet tradition, with many companies being drastically reduced, or closed completely. Rhetoric, but it would be a wasted opportunity not to keep these points in the public mind.
Josè Carreras commented on the pleasure of seeing so many youngsters attending modern opera performances, and of the new possibilities for encountering la lirica through live cinema relays and TV coverage. He was eager to underline the fact that he remembered lines of teenagers queueing for days in freezing temperatures to get day tickets at the beginning of his career, like those La Scala performances of La Forza del Destino.
Both these DVDs are witness to the strengths of a legendary theatre which, through its ups and downs, continues to be a centre of world culture.
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.