Bigonzetti handed in his resignation because of the impossibility to continue: he has a slipped disc and his doctors have told him to rest. So after just eight months at the helm of Italy’s most prestigious ballet company, he has been obliged to leave.
However, even from before his appointment, there has been tension between Bigonzetti and the dancers. They were not in agreement with the theatre’s Managing Director, Alexander Pereira, of putting a contemporary choreographer in charge of a classical ballet troupe. Then, when his first season – 2016-2017 – was announced it had a strong contemporary lean. In fact, after the current run of Giselle, the company will not be dancing any repertoire pieces until the end of June 2017, except for Balanchine’s Symphony in C, part of a triple bill.
Because of his bad back, the company hadn’t seen its director for the entire five-week of a prestigious tour to China and Japan.
Returning to Milan, the dancers arranged a meeting last week to discuss what could be done to oust Bigonzetti, reports La Repubblica. Pereira knew of this meeting and of the revolutionary atmosphere among the ranks.
When Bigonzetti was being considered for the post at the beginning of the year, the company was working with Laurent Hilaire, who was remounting Rudolf Nureyev’s Don Quixote. The Paris Opera Ballet has a similar repertoire to Milan which seemed to make its ex-star an ideal choice. The company urged for Hilaire to be given the post, also because he had no ulterior agenda unlike a choreographer who, obviously, wants to choreograph; not ideal for a repertoire company, as has been demonstrated elsewhere this year!
So did he jump or was he pushed?
Bigonzetti’s new production of Coppélia, to open the season, now cannot go ahead. In fact, rehearsals should have already begun. So to maintain the title the Roland Petit version is being considered, and has already been presented with success at La Scala. There is talk also of Heinz Spoerli’s production, being that he was the director of the ballet company in Zurich when Pereira was its managing director.
Now there will be a much needed pause for reflection as Fréderic Olivieri fills in until February next year. He was the director of the company between 2002 and 2007 and currently runs the La Scala Dance Academy.
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.