For the New Year
Unusual ballet productions in Italy,
seen by GIUSEPPE PENNISI
A family evening at the ballet is almost a tradition for the holiday period between Christmas and Epiphany in Italy as well as in many other European countries. As seen previously (A Variety of Events, 31 December 2011) Tchaikovsky's The Nutcracker is a standard feature because it revolves around a children's story which can be given many interpretations. In this review, I focus only on two musical and ballet shows because they are quite peculiar as compared with traditional holiday ballet: the new Nutcracker production at Teatro dell'Opera di Roma, and the Svetlana Zakharova Italian tour.
Teatro dell'Opera di Roma has a new ballet director: Eleonora Abbagnato, Italian-born but a long time resident of Paris where she is étoile of the Opéra. The Nutcracker (premiered on 20 December 2015 and on stage until 8 January 2016) is her debut as ballet producer in Italy. Normally, The Nutcracker is shown as a rather sweet story. Few reviewers recall that the original Casse-Noisette et le Roi des souris by E T A Hoffmann, the 1816 tale that Tchaikovsky's ballet is drawn from, is quite a crude Buildungsroman, a growing-up-to-maturity story. The ballet was composed by Tchaikovsky when he was working on his Symphony No 6, a very tormented period of his life, just a few months before his suicide. As a matter of fact, The Nutcracker score is morbid and sensual (like that of Symphony No 6) rather than joyful as presented in the original Petipa 1892 choreography. The coup de théâtre in this new production is the choreography by Giuliano Peparini and the orchestra direction by David Coleman, along with a selection of three young casts, alternating in various performances. I saw and heard the production's 20 December 2015 debut.