La Scala's Ballet Company have been touring China for almost a month, taking in four cities and dancing 15 performances of Don Quixote and Giselle. Last night's performance of Giselle in the Grand Theatre in Tianjin marked the last performance and today the company heads home.
The Milanese company didn't take guests — not even its resident Étoiles Svetlana Zakharova and Roberto Bolle — but scored success at each performance with its resident stars: Nicoletta Manni, Virna Toppi and Martina Arduino as Kitri alongside Timofej Andrijashenko, Claudio Coviello and Marco Agostino as Basilio; and Manni and Vittoria Valerio in the role of Giselle with Andrijashenko and Coviello as Albrecht.
International ballet critic, Kevin Ng, wrote:
Manni was superb in the title role. In Act 1, she was convincing as the innocent peasant girl, and her mad scene at the end of the act was captivatingly dramatic. In Act 2, Manni was ethereal as a mystical Wili and was most touching in the duet, partnered by Andrijashenko.
The blond Andrijashenko is a handsome and elegant dancer. His acting was heartfelt, and his portrayal of remorse at the end of Act 1 was moving. In Act 2, he displayed his remarkable technical virtuosity. The lofty cabrioles in his solo were breathtaking, as were his entrechats in the coda. The ending when he slowly advanced to the front of the stage after Giselle's disappearance was very moving. It was certainly an exciting partnership. No wonder they won prolonged curtain calls from the audience at the end.
The 120-strong team visited Shanghai and Tianjin, both cities that know the company, as well as Xi'an and Macao for the first time. This was the company's fourth tour in China in a collaboration beginning in 2006.
This trip marked the 155th foreign tour by La Scala since 1878 when it visited Paris to celebrate its 100th anniversary. In those tours there have been 859 events with 329 operas, 344 ballets and 186 concerts.
The 39 nations visited so far will rise to 40 in November with its first tour to Australia. Again Don Quixote and Giselle will be on the bill, and the productions are now being shipped down from China ready for the company's arrival at the Queensland Performing Arts Centre in Brisbane for 13 performances.
In July 2019 La Scala will visit Finland for the first time with a with a new production of Verdi's I Masnadieri by David MacVicar.
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.
I went for the first night of their Don Quixote in Tianjin, it was a delightful night. And I should thank you, it was totally because your articles in early July that I finally decided to book the ticket – it’s not easy, since I don’t live in Tianjin and had to take a half-day leave, book train and hotel etc.
I’m not professional and can’t write all those terms, but talking from view of an ordinary people, I’d say it’s an impressive performance, they danced in a very smooth and vigorous way, not only the two leading principles but also the corps dancers. And I like this feeling I capture from a troupe that they could grow or evolve through the time.
There was a small press conference open for all audience before the performance, and their director Frederic Olivieri gave a short speech. I’m so glad that La Scala together with the local theater arranged this small event, since it is rare in China – it’s an occasion that usually exclusive to the press and celebrities.
Thank you again and all my best wishes!
love from China,
Thank you for commenting, and I am so glad the trip was worth it!