The first encounter between La Scala's ballet company and Manuel Legris, who would a year later become the company's director, was when his production of the ballet Sylvia inaugurated the 2019-2020 ballet season. It won the Danza&Danza Award as the best classical production of the season.
Now, more than two years after its debut, the ballet returns from tonight, 11 May, until 26 May.
It is inspired by the 1573 pastoral drama Aminta by Torquato Tasso about the nymph Sylvia. The complicated story mixes in nymphs, satyrs, shepherds, and the gods of Olympus. Better is Léo Delibes's exquisite score (Tchaikovsky was an admirer). The sets and costumes are by Luisa Spinatelli.
The ballet was first seen at the Paris Opéra 1876 with choreography by Louis Mérante and it was the first ballet to be performed in the Palais Garnier. The first to play Sylvia was La Scala-trained ballerina Rita Sangalli.
La Scala first saw the ballet in 1894 when Giorgio Saracco reproduced the choreography of Mérante but with many changes and a very famous protagonist, Carlotta Brianza. It was not seen again until the New York City Ballet visited in 1953 and performed the Sylvia: Pas de Deux from the third act, choreographed by George Balanchine in 1950 for Maria Tallchief and André Eglevsky.
In tonight's opening cast (seen in these photos from the dress rehearsal) are:
Sylvia Martina Arduino
Aminta Nicola Del Freo
Orione Christian Fagetti
Eros Mattia Semperboni
Diana Maria Celeste Losa
Endimione Gabriele Corrado
A faun Federico Fresi
A naiad Vittoria Valerio
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.