Italian designer Luisa Spinatelli has created scenes and designed 180 costumes for a new production of Le Corsaire at La Scala.
Anna-Marie Holmes, who has already staged the ballet at the American Ballet Theatre and English National Ballet, now brings a version to Milan, which opens on Friday 20 April.
The ballet will be transmitted live in cinemas on 16 May (and later on Italy's RAI5 TV channel).
Holmes first staged the ballet for Boston in 1997, and it marked the first time that a non-Russian company had danced the piece. A year later she produced the well-known version for the American Ballet Theatre. It was transmitted by PBS as part of their Great Performances series and won an Emmy Award.
There are more than 100 performers on stage from the corps de ballet, to the extras, to the children from La Scala's Ballet School.
The first cast sees Nicoletta Manni as Medora, Martina Arduino as Gulnare, Timofej Andrijashenko as Conrad, Marco Agostino (Lankendem), and Antonino Sutera (Birbanto). Claudio Coviello as Alì the slave will be replaced by Mattia Semperboni for the first two performances because of injury, and Antonella Albano plays Zulmea.
Later performances see La Scala's new principal dancers Martina Arduino and Virna Toppi as Medora.
Patrick Fournillier will conduct the performances.
Of Le Corsaire, Jennifer Stahl of Dance Magazine wrote,
I have a guilty pleasure to confess: I kind of really, really love Le Corsaire.
I totally get why many people hate this ballet. Although it's loosely based on a Lord Byron poem, the plot as it exists in ballet form today is absurdly thin. More importantly, it's morally repugnant: Centered around the selling and stealing of sex slaves, it basically portrays women as weak, non-human objects, and Muslims as evil or buffoon-like…
…Still, I can't help smiling through just about the whole darn ballet. It's a buffet of virtuosity. The dancers perform like they've been let off the leash and given permission to let loose with all their favourite tricks.
20, 22, 27 April; 9, 11 (2 perf.), 16 (2 perf.), 17 May 2018
Music by Adolphe Adam, Cesare Pugni, Léo Delibes, Riccardo Drigo, Peter von Oldenburg
Libretto by Jules-Henry Vernoy de Saint-Georges and Joseph Mazilier, in a version by Anna-Marie Holmes,
based on Lord Byron's The Corsair (1814)
Choreography Anna-Marie Holmes
Based on Marius Petipa and Konstantin Sergeyev
Music orchestrated by Kevin Galiè
Sets and costumes by Luisa Spinatelli
Lighting by Marco Filibeck
Conductor Patrick Fournillier
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.