After almost a month touring China, La Scala's ballet company popped back to Milan for a run of Manon performances, before popping off to Australia for thirteen performances in Brisbane, from 7 to 18 November.
It is the company's first time in Australia and they are taking two of their most popular productions: Don Quixote and Giselle. Performances are at the Queensland Performing Arts Centre in Brisbane.
La Scala tours abroad regularly with opera and concerts as well as ballet. The first tour was in 1878 to Paris to celebrate the theatre's centenary. Since then there have been a staggering 859 performances —329 operas, 344 ballets, and 186 concerts — in 39 countries. Australia becomes the 40th country on the list.
Brisbane, which is 16,249 km away from Milan, will also become the farthest city the company has visited.
Among the 112 people on tour (dancers and backstage staff) are three guests who also dance in Milan with the company: Maria Eichwald and David Hallberg for Giselle and Leonid Sarafanov for Don Quixote.
La Scala's Principal Dancer Nicoletta Manni will dance with Sarafanov and Hallberg, and another Principal, Claudio Coviello, will partner Eichwald. Regular collaborator David Coleman conducts the Queensland Symphony Orchestra.
Alternative casts see Virna Toppi with Timofej Andrijashenko, and Martina Arduino with Marco Agostino in Don Quixote; and Vittoria Valerio with Timofej Andrijashenko in Giselle.
The two titles on stage in Brisbane, although different in style and atmosphere, are both rich and complete in their classicism, and highlight the versatility of the artists on stage. Don Quixote is one of the company's calling cards having been popular in the repertoire since 1980 when Rudolf Nureyev starred alongside Carla Fracci. It has been remounted this year as a tribute to the eightieth anniversary of Nureyev's birth and the twenty-fifth since his death.
Don Quixote: 7, 8, 9, 10 (2 perfs), 11, 17 (2 perfs) November 2018
Giselle: 14, 15 (2 perfs), 16, 18 November 2018
Queensland Performing Arts Centre, Brisbane
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.