Intriguing casting changes at La Scala.
In September, Rudolf Nureyev’s Don Quixote was to have have four guest artists: Svetlana Zakharova paired with Denis Matvienko and Natalia Osipova with Ivan Vasiliev. As we know, Matvienko has been injured and had to cancel his American Ballet Theatre dates, and it has now been announced that he will not dance Basilio at La Scala. Zakharova has also had to withdraw due to “personal reasons that prevent her leaving Moscow”.
In a wonderful casting coup, the direction of the La Scala has secured 40-year-old English National Ballet boss Tamara Rojo as Kitri; once her signature role, but not a part she is dancing often nowadays. She hasn’t danced often with La Scala, though in 2007 ,when it took its production of Sleeping Beauty to the Royal Opera House, it bizarrely asked local star Rojo to be its Aurora. On that occasion she danced with Leonid Sarafanov, and he is the other replacement at La Scala for September’s Don Quixote run. However he will not be dancing with Rojo.
Either La Scala’s ballet director Makhar Vaziev has prised Osipova and Vasiliev apart, or they have requested to not to dance together for some reason, but Rojo with be partnered by Vasiliev, and Osipova by Sarafanov. This was the casting when Osipova made her house début in 2010, so that makes sense. Rojo first danced Nureyev’s version in 2001 at Covent Garden when the Royal hosted the work for one season, and again in 2007, just after her London Aurora, when she guested with the La Scala Ballet in Tokyo, so she already knows Nureyev’s fiendish combinations of steps which left Zakharova confounded in Milan, again in 2007. Vasiliev has also danced Nureyev’s Don Q before, with Australian Ballet last season with… Osipova.
Osipova and Vasiliev have only danced once together with the La Scala company in a performance of Romeo and Juliet in Japan last year. They were placed in different casts for the run of Petit’s Notre-Dame de Paris last year, and although they were due to dance together in Rubies last March, Osipova was indisposed for the dress rehearsal and then replaced for the run. Whatever, it’s all good fun for Italian balletomanes, but the continual thwarting of the Osipova-Vasiliev brand at La Scala is… intriguing.
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.