Eleonora Abbagnato's planned soirée d'adieux to the Paris Opera Ballet on 23 December with a performance of Angelin Preljocaj's Le Parc was postponed due to the ongoing strike by the ballet company, protesting against planned changes to their pension scheme.
Abbagnato has opted instead for a ‘carte blanche' evening for her farewell, dipping her toes for the last time into the repertoire that has seen her shine during her years in Paris. She will dance pieces by Jerome Robbins, Angelin Preljocaj, John Neumeier and Roland Petit on 18 May 2020.
The evening will conclude with a défilé, that exciting presentation of the school's students through to the company's étoiles (about 250 dancers) when to Berlioz's Marche des Troyens they stride from the Foyer de la Danse at the back of the stage through to the footlights to acknowledge with a small nod of the head, or a lavish bow from the principal dancers, the applause of the audience, concluding with an emotional tableau vivant.
Audric Bezard and Stéphane Bullion will partner her in a programme that includes Robbins' In the Night (Bezard), Petit's La Rose Malade (Bezard), Neumeier's La Dame aux camélias (with Bullion) and Preljocaj's Le Parc (Bullion). There will be other pieces without Abbagnato during the evening.
Then lots, and lots, of flowers!
And talking of flowers… in an interview before her planned farewell last year, she said,
Every rose has its thorns – it's like that everywhere, because dancers always want to be on stage. But [leaving the Paris Opera Ballet] doesn't frighten me. I like that there are hurdles to overcome in life… it keeps me alive!
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.