Last night a Gala to celebrate Rudolf Nureyev was had at La Scala. It is the 80th Anniversary of his birth and also 25 years after his death. The Gala was previewed by a benefit audience on Thursday, and opened Friday 25 May, with further performances on 26 and 29 May. La Scala's Étoiles Svetlana Zakharova and Roberto Bolle were joined by guests Marianela Nuñez, Germain Louvet, and Vadim Muntagirov.
Nureyev first danced at La Scala in 1965 – The Royal Ballet was on tour and he danced Romeo and Juliet and La Bayadère with Margot Fonteyn.
The following year he was invited by the theatre to dance Marguerite and Armand, again with Fonteyn. Again in 1966, La Scala saw his Sleeping Beauty for the first time with Carla Fracci. There were further runs, again with Fracci, in 1967 and 1968, as well as with Vera Colombo later in the year.
September 1968 saw his Nutcracker where he danced with Merle Park, and La Sylphide with Fracci. That month alone he danced 11 performances, and was back again with Park for Nutcracker in December.
In January and February of 1969 he danced in Sleeping Beauty with Fracci, Colombo and Liliana Cosi. In September came his first Giselle in Milan, though surprisingly not with Fracci but with Fonteyn, Colombo and Cosi, with further performances of Nutcracker.
1970 saw his productions of Nutcracker and Paquita though he wasn't on stage himself. He was back in June however in Roland Petit's L'Estasi as well as Aurora's Wedding from his Sleeping Beauty.
The same month Fonteyn arrived and they danced Kenneth MacMillan's Romeo and Juliet with the La Scala company, and after every performance they also danced Aurora's Wedding!
The same month saw a couple of Giselles too.
After the summer, there were performances of Les Sylphides followed by Marguerite and Armand in the same evening. Fonteyn and Nureyev followed these performances with four performances of Sleeping Beauty.
In June 1971 with Fonteyn he danced a short run consisting of the second act of Swan Lake followed by Aurora's Wedding.
In September came a run of seven Nutcrackers with Fracci, Colombo and Cosi interspersed with two performances of Maurice Béjart's Le Chant du Compagnon errant with Paolo Bortoluzzi and two performances of Giselle with Fracci. This was followed by four performances of Les Sylphides coupled with a Romeo and Juliet pas de deux with Fonteyn.
In December of 1971 he danced Apollon musagète with Colombo, Anna Razzi and Mara Cavagnini.
1972 saw performances of his Aurora's Wedding but he didn't perform that year.
1973 began with the second act of his Nutcracker in the seemingly popular mixed evenings. After the summer came eight Giselles with Fracci, and then five couplings of Apollon musagète followed by Le Chant du Compagnon errant. In December and January he was back for 9 performances of Swan Lake with Fracci, followed by four more with Cosi in July 1974.
In 1975 and 1976 Milan was deprived of Nureyev appearances, but in January he danced eight performances of Nutcracker with Park and Cosi.
April 1978 saw Sleeping Beauty with Fracci. In 1979 his name didn't appear on a La Scala poster, but in 1980 there was a series of Nutcrackers with Razzi, and then came Birgit Cullberg's Miss Julie with Anna Razzi.
September 1980 saw his Don Quixote arrive in Milan with Fracci making her debut as Kitri (at 44) with six performances in seven days (and the day before the opening there was a dress rehearsal with an audience). The two danced together again in Nureyev's version of Romeo and Juliet, in December in Milan, and again in July when the company was on tour at the Met in New York. They also toured Giselle which he danced with Fracci and Razzi.
Nureyev become director of the Paris Opera Ballet from 1983, and he didn't dance again at La Scala until 1987 when he brought his star dancer Sylvie Guillem to dance in Don Quixote. Later that year he danced again in Nutcracker in both October and December.
He danced a single Giselle with Anita Magyari in 1988, a couple of performances of La Sylphide with Fracci and his production of Don Quixote was seen.
In June of 1989 he danced in Flemming Flindt's The Lesson with Oriella Dorella. Once again there was was a run of his Don Quixote during the year.
His Swan Lake made a return in 1990 and Nureyev danced Rothbart. There were also performances of his Nutcracker, and again in 1992 and 1993, including one on 8 January which was dedicated to him, as he had died 2 days previously.
Since his death there have been 40 performances of his Nutcracker, 86 of his Swan Lake, 50 of The Sleeping Beauty, 15 of Cinderella, 5 of Raymonda with the Paris Opera Ballet on tour, and 98 performances of Don Quixote.
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.