Of course, it was not a simple path and fraught with difficulties, which put everyone to the test, but which allowed the theatre to achieve undeniable results.
After the surprising accusations from the unions representing the dancers at the Rome Opera Ballet about Eleonora Abbagnato's bad behaviour, she has decided that it is time to speak out and put forward her side of the story in an interview with the Italian news agency, ANSA.
Obviously, as the complaint is a formal one, after a letter with the accusations was delivered to the theatre's directors, she says that she is unable “to deal specifically with the details of the case, which should have remained within the theatre's walls”. However, she adds, “I can't help but think that is precisely those who have leaked this document who have wanted to create a rift between me and the corps de ballet, for reasons that I don't understand, especially when you consider the results we have achieved working together”.
Yes, I am a demanding person, but most of all I demand a lot from myself. My determination stems from the desire to make the corps de ballet in Rome reach an exceptional level of technique and interpretation. This is something that I can bring thanks to my experience with the great maestri I've had the fortune to grow up with and work alongside at the Paris Opera Ballet.
Abbagnato became director of the Rome Opera Ballet in 2015 while dancing as Étoile with the Paris Opera Ballet; she still holds both positions.
With great enthusiasm and dedication, I have managed to bring the company to an international level during these four years, collaborating with many of the most prestigious choreographers in the world. I worked hard to ensure that the younger dancers, and the dancers employed for the season, could work as unceasingly as possible. I've rewarded their work by promoting them… to the position of étoile, principals and soloists and I've enriched the professional experience of everyone here with the presence of important choreographers, coming to Rome for the first time.
In addition to the classical and neoclassical repertoire, I have programmed new contemporary choreographers such as Jiří Kylián, William Forsythe, and Angelin Preljocaj, as well as creations especially commissioned for the Rome company.
I want to add that the Intendant has always backed me in my artistic projects and the programmes that I have proposed have been popular with both critics and audiences, often sold out, which is something difficult to achieve. I've tried to get the best results possible for the city, for the fans of dance, and for the younger audience, which represents the future.
Abbagnato has brought to Rome much that has come from her experience in Paris: ballets, dancers, choreographers, teachers. She has also brought an international perspective:
I wanted that our étoile, principals and soloists could participate in worldwide events and galas, allowing them to dance together with great artists, as well as participating in the theatre's international tours. These experiences allow you to have a 360° view of dance and its evolution. I've wanted, from day one, to promote Italian talent, not only by hiring graduate students from our school but by giving our dancers confidence and helping them to grow.
In September [when the company reassembles after the summer break] I would like to see everyone full of energy, ready to work together on Baryshnikov's Don Quixote – he's been here in the theatre in the last few days – which will be rehearsed with maestro and choreographer, Laurent Hilaire, who is adored by my dancers.
[During the coming season], I will conduct a series of conferences in which I will explain two great titles in our season's repertoire: Le corsaire and Notre–Dame de Paris. Together with Benjamin Pech, my Ballet Master and assistant, together with the leading dancers of each ballet, I will explain to the audience the show that they will be coming to see.
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.