After delays of the first night of the new production of La Bayadère at La Scala, and the recording on 21 December after a preview performance for young people the previous day, the theatre has now been obliged to cancel all of the upcoming performances.
After more positive Covid tests today, La Scala’s management has decided to cancel the remaining performances on 30 and 31 December, and 5, 7, 8, 12 and 13 January and the theatre is searching for ways to recoup the sold-out performances later in the season or to offer refunds.
Of the opening night cast on 15 December, only Nicoletta Manni remained as Nikiya on the new opening on 21 December, with Solor, Gamzatti and the Golden Idol all being slotted in from other casts. The television cameras waited patiently for the planned recording, but the delay took away the dancers’ security blanket of knowing that an edit was always possible if the worst came to the worst: the last time that the ballet was performed was to open the 2008-2009 season so most of the dancers were new to the ballet, and all were new to Rudolf Nureyev’s version which has replaced that of Natalia Makarova, and they had missed valuable rehearsal time for quarantine.
Timofej Andrijashenko, due to dance with Svetlana Zakharova in the final performances in January 2022, was moved to the first night causing a rush to finish his costume and for him to prepare for his role debut more than two weeks earlier than planned. To cover all the roles meant reducing the parrot dancers from twelve to eight, and because there were also infections among the students at the theatre’s dancing school all the children were removed from the production, so their dance was eliminated (which had been changed from “la danse des negrillons” to the children’s dance) and the two girls who participate in the Danse Manu (in the programme: Danza “Manou”, with quotation marks), or jug dance, were replaced with corps de ballet dancers.
It is admirable that the production arrived before an audience at all. With a television relay and the atmosphere of uncertainty surrounding the company the general assurance of all onstage was commendable, and in the circumstances, small uncertainties were easily forgiven.
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.