After years of refusing offers from all over the world to share her intimate knowledge of the characters she has portrayed, Carla Fracci has agreed to give her first masterclass.
The Ecole Superieure de Danse de Cannes-Mougins Rosella Hightower, one of the world’s leading professional dance schools, has managed to persuade Fracci to share some of her insight into the character most closely identified with her: Giselle. As Svetlana Zakharova said in a 2012 interview, “She is my ideal Giselle,” and she is for many.
This morning she worked for two hours with students of the Hightower School, and tomorrow will do the same but with an audience looking on.
It is obvious that ballet companies and schools have sought out the Italian ballerina for coaching and teaching those roles which were truly hers – Giselle, La Sylphide, Juliet – but until now she has always refused. The closest she has come was during her ten years at the helm of Rome Opera Ballet where she would help prepare some of the dancers of her company. In fact, a new production for Rome in 2005 used the music of some of the variations which are not usually performed, and Fracci herself did the choreography. Giselle, of course, is a great collage of steps by different choreographers to music by several different composers, and Fracci’s name for that production was tagged on to those of Coralli, Petipa, Perrot and Dolin.
The clip below – just uploaded to YouTube for the first time – includes one of those variations from the Rome production, here danced by Svetlana Lunkina joined by Igor Yebra in 2007. Below is Carla Fracci herself as Giselle in the Act II pas de deux with Vladimir Vasiliev.
[Unfortunately, Rome Opera asked YouTube to remove this clip, though Carla Fracci, and her husband who directed the ballet, Beppe Menegatti, were keen for it to be seen.]
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.