A strong thread ties Rudolf Nureyev to La Scala, where he was acclaimed not only as a dancer but also as a choreographer. Nureyev has equally strong ties to La Scala Ballet’s new director, Manuel Legris, a great interpreter of his classics, whom he appointed étoile at the Paris Opera in 1986.
This is how the evening A Tribute to Rudolf Nureyev came about, combining famous passages from his versions of the great classics, which have been seen over the years at La Scala, together with other titles that have not been performed on its stage for some time, or which will even be presented there for the first time. It can be seen on Sunday 28 February at 20.00 CET via Teatro alla Scala’s website, and its Facebook and YouTube pages
Don Quixote is one of La Scala’s flagship ballets, often taken on tours abroad, and has been in the repertoire since 1980. Giuseppe Conte (Don Quixote), Nicoletta Manni (Kitri/Dulcinea), Maria Celeste Losa (Queen of the Dryads), Agnese Di Clemente (Amour), and Federico Fresi (Gypsy) will perform scenes from the second act.
Sleeping Beauty was created for La Scala in 1966 with Carla Fracci as Aurora and Nureyev as the Prince. After his death, it was remounted with new designs in 1994 with Viviana Durante and Manuel Legris. Here Martina Arduino is accompanied by four princes – Mick Zeni, Massimo Garon, Edoardo Caporaletti and Gioacchino Starace – for the Rose Adage.
Nicoletta Manni, Timofej Andrijashenko and Christian Fagetti dance the pas de trois from the third act of Swan Lake, which was last seen in Milan in 2014. Cinderella, last performed at La Scala in 2006, will be represented by the pas de deux from the second act performed by Alessandra Vassallo and Gabriele Corrado.
The balcony scene from Romeo and Juliet will be danced by Marco Agostino and Vittoria Valerio. The ballet was mounted at La Scala in 1980 and then went on tour to the Metropolitan in New York. Nureyev made his first appearance at La Scala as Romeo in 1965.
The company has never performed Manfred, and Claudio Coviello will present a solo of great emotional density from the work that Nureyev created in 1979, drawing inspiration from Byron’s poems and from the libretto on which Tchaikovsky based his symphony.
Nureyev’s version of Raymonda, which will close the tribute, was seen in Milan when the Paris Opera Ballet brought it to La Scala in 2000. Now, La Scala’s ballet company will perform the choreography for the first time dancing the divertissement for the wedding celebrations from Act III with Virna Toppi (Raymonda), Nicola Del Freo (Jean De Brienne), Maria Celeste Losa (Henriette), Antonella Albano (Clemence), and the corps de ballet.
Koen Kessels conducts La Scala’s orchestra.
Those in Italy (or who can ‘pretend’ that they are in Italy) can watch on Rai5 at 21.15 CET the gala Great Moments of Dance recorded before Christmas and already transmitted in part by subscription streaming services. There are extracts from La Sylphide, Le Corsaire, SENTieri (choreography by Philippe Kratz), Excelsior, Progetto Händel (choreography by Mauro Bigonzetti) and Le Spectre de la rose.
Great Moments of Dance – photo album
Le Spectre de la rose
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.