Bruno was a dancer of modest height with a fast dynamic, a physical quality that matched his personality. He often danced together with Anna Maria Grossi, a beautifully proportioned dancer who complemented him perfectly – they were especially known for their dazzling peasants' pas de deux in Giselle.
Dear Bruno, my lifelong friend and partner. We danced so much together! From Giselle to Coppélia, La fille mal gardée and the Bluebird and Princess Florine, and many others. A wonderful partner, we only had to look at each other to immediately understand what had to be done on stage! Bruno you were a great artist and dancer with a perfect technique, and a teacher always ready to help and put your great experience into practice with young people and those who needed it! You are here in my heart! You have always been more than a friend and colleague to me: you have always been a BROTHER! I will miss you.
[Caro Bruno, amico e partner di una vita. Quanto abbiamo ballato assieme! Da Giselle a Coppélia, La fille mal gardée e Uccelli Blue e tanti altri. Stupendo partner, bastava guardarci per capire subito cosa si doveva fare in scena! Bruno sei stato un grande artista e ballerino dalla tecnica perfetta, maestro sempre pronto ad aiutare e a mettere in pratica la tua grande esperienza verso i giovani e chi ne aveva bisogno! Sei qui nel mio cuore! Per me sei sempre stato più di un amico e collega: sei sempre stato un FRATELLO! Mi mancherai.]
Bruno graduated from La Scala's Ballet School in 1968 and at the age of nineteen he joined La Scala's corps de ballet, quickly becoming a soloist, then principal dancer. He excelled in demi character roles including the mother in La Fille mal gardée by Spoerli, Basilio in Don Quixote, Franz in Coppélia, Cranko's The Lady and the Fool, Adagio Hammerklavier by Hans van Manen, Symphony in D by Kylián, and most of La Scala's repertoire for the more than three decades that he danced with the company.
He was particularly applauded as Mercutio in Nureyev's Romeo and Juliet, and the Bluebird in Nureyev's The Sleeping Beauty, and his last role was as Rothbart in Nureyev's Swan Lake in 1994. After leaving La Scala he worked as assistant choreographer at the theatre between 1994 and 1996, and was maître de ballet for many Italian companies, including the Rome Opera Ballet when his dear friends Carla Fracci and her husband Beppe Menegatti were heading the company during the first decade of this century.
Goodbye, dear, dearest Bruno. We will all meet again, and you know who I mean by all. Farewell, goodbye dear, dearest friend.
[Addio, caro, carissimo Bruno. Anzi, arrivederci tutti insieme, tu sai bene chi intendo per tutti. A Dio addio arrivederci, caro, carissimo amico.]
Bruno worked extensively with the Fracci-Menegatti touring company, dancing in Mirandolina by Alfred Rodriguez, and (again by Rodriguez) he had a risqué pas de deux with Carla Fracci in La ronde.
He was born in Lodi in 1949, a half-hour drive out of Milan, but his parents took him to La Scala to see operas and ballets from a young age, and when he was ten, he saw John Cranko's Romeo and Juliet with Vera Colombo (who would become a close friend), Mario Pistoni, Roberto Fascilla, Walter Venditti, and Bruno Telloli. His heart was set, and his parents enrolled him in the theatre's ballet school.
Bruno had a great sense of humour… no… a wicked sense of humour. Childlike in his manner, he had no filter when speaking and would leave some open-mouthed when meeting him for the first time with the frankness of his conversation; others would curl up with laughter at the spicey outrageousness of his comments… always with a twinkle in his eye.
The ballerina Luciana Savignano who was his frequent partner and an intimate friend said,
I was privileged to have Bruno as my dear, great friend. Intelligent, sensitive, witty, and cheerful. On stage he was an artist with a great personality, and a strong, vigorous technique. Ciao Bruno, you will always remain in my heart.
[Bruno, un caro e un grande amico che ho avuto il privilegio di avere. Intelligente, sensibile, arguto e solare. In scena un artista con una grande personalità, ed una tecnica forte e vigorosa. Ciao Bruno, mi resterai sempre nel cuore.]
Anna Maria Prina, who was the director of La Scala's ballet school for 32 years, saw Bruno grow up through the company, and was on many juries for dance competitions with him, said:
What sadness Bruno! You were a pyrotechnic dancer and a maître with a big heart. A colleague and friend, who though younger than me, smoothed out difficult situations with his humour. His laughter is well known in the dance world and still resonates with me now. Now you will dance and cheer up those who have gone before you in that sky that we look up at, hoping to see you.
[Che dispiacere Bruno! Eri un ballerino e Maestro pirotecnico e dal grande cuore. Un collega e amico, più giovane di me, che con il suo humour appianava le situazioni difficili. Le tue risate sono ben note nel mondo della danza e mi risuonano ancora adesso. Ora danzerai e rallegrerai chi ti ha preceduto in quel cielo che noi guardiamo sperando di vederti.]
Bruno became something of a stage-door johnny after he retired, waiting at the artists' entrance to meet his old colleagues as well as getting to know the newer members of the company, rejoicing in the latest theatre gossip and being generous in sharing his knowledge and experience. Current principal dancer, Claudio Coviello, before reaching such heights, knew Bruno from the moment he joined the company:
Dear Bruno, we are all stunned and incredulous by your untimely death. I will always carry you in my heart for your friendliness and honesty and thank you for the many laughs you have given us over the years. You will always be with us. With great esteem, Claudio.
[Caro Bruno, siamo tutti scossi e increduli dalla tua prematura scomparsa. Ti porterò sempre nel cuore per la tua simpatia e onestà e grazie per le tante risate che ci hai regalato in questi anni. Sarai sempre con noi. Con tantissima stima, Claudio.]
La Scala provided the selection of photos that illustrate this short recollection of a dear friend.
Bruno Vescovo: Lodi 5 February 1949 – Milan 31 December 2022
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.