The 19-year-old Fracci had been asked to cover the role of Cinderella, and was dancing the Spring Fairy in December 1955. When a call came for Verdy to return to Paris for New Year’s Eve, the choreographer, Alfred Rodrigues, had second thoughts about entrusting the role to a girl who had never danced a three-act ballet before. Better, he thought, Vera Colombo who was dancing the Summer Fairy; she was five years older and already a Principal dancer.
Fracci – petite but tough – went to the top management at La Scala to complain. She got her role back. There was a rehearsal for her while Verdy was still in Milan, then the 31st December arrived:
At that age I was so unaware of the importance of that performance that I was more than calm.
Needless to say, the evening was a triumph, and it became one of her signature roles.
Fracci and Verdy encountered each other many times over the next sixty years and was shocked by her passing at the beginning of this month. Fracci writes,
Dearest Violetta, it gives me great pain to think that I won’t see your beautiful smile again or feel your immense positivity.
I lose a friend who will always remain alive within me with all the wonderful memories that unite us. Dance loses a great Maestro, with a capital ‘M’. You’ll always be in my heart.
On a personal note, Violette Verdy agreed to do one of the questionnaires that appear on this blog. We gave ourselves a series of appointments to speak during August, while she was on holiday in France, to do the interview. Something went wrong with her cell phone and she wasn’t able to take calls, so we put it off until the winter, as returning to Indiana University after the summer was such a busy period. Time passed, and the interview was never done. Thank you Maestro Violette for have given me the opportunity, one that I shamefully wasted.
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.