I'm happy that the Mayor of Rome, Ignazio Marino, and Sovrintendente Fuortes, have had faith in my passion. My heart has always remained in Italy and this theatre needs people who believe passionately in dance.
Eleonora Abbagnato was speaking at a press conference in Rome, her first appearance after her nomination as the Rome Opera Ballet's new director. A previous director of the company, Carla Fracci, was criticised for hogging too much stage time, though because of her age the opportunities were limited. Abbagnato is just 36.
I could dance, certainly, but I want to think first about the dancers of the company. My intention is to remain as an Étoile at the Paris Opera where, incidentally, the new director, Benjamin Millepied, is my age. I don't discount that one day I might dance for the Rome audience, who knows? We are also looking at the possibility of bringing the Rome company to Paris.
Luckily, the Rome Opera now has a Sovrintendente who loves dance, something that has been lacking for years.
There was some murmuring among those present about how a Paris Opera Étoile could also direct a company in Rome. What could a part-time director bring to the company?
I want to bring to the company my experience at the Paris Opera, where we put on more than 150 ballet performances a year, and work alongside the biggest names in international choreography: Kylian, Forsythe, Neumeier, Nureyev. I would like to bring some of the big names to Rome and raise the level of the company to equal that at La Scala… maybe even better it.
There is a great deal of positivity, and a great energy here. I want the millions of people who come to Rome to come and see dance too.
Over the last couple of years, the company has been in dire straits financially, and jobs have been at risk.
Long-term contracts for the dancers are crucial for the growth of the corps de ballet. It is also important that we can maintain the same teachers and coaches to guide them over a period.
Sovrintendente Carlo Fuortes added,
We want to invest in the ballet and strengthen it… The situation is already changing.
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.