A Roland Petit soirée at
Opera di Roma,
experienced by GIUSEPPE PENNISI
In the field of ballet, Rome's Teatro dell'Opera is challenging La Scala Milan. Rome
has two private theatres fully dedicated to ballet, which can also be
seen in other venues such as the Via della Conciliazione Auditorium, the
Musica per Roma facilities, and, during the Summer, at the Roman Teatre
in Ostia Antica. This means that there is a demand and an audience for
Teatro dell'Opera di Romais one of the very few Italianopera
houses with a fully-fledged ballet company within its establishment, but
recently it was given higher priority by the appointment of Eleonora
Abbagnato, étoile of the Paris
Opera, as director of the corps de ballet.
After the Summer season
when the ballet company performed at the Terme di Caracalla (the 'Summer
house' of the Teatro dell'Opera) and also at the Teatro Grande in the
ruins of Pompeii, the first two titles during Fall are well-known ballets
Soirée Roland Petit and Giselle. Five titles are programmed
during the 2017-2018
season due to start on 12 November.
Soirée Roland Petit included three works; two of them were created
by Roland Petit in the late 1940s (Carmen and Le Jeune Homme et
la Mort), the other (L'Arlésienne) in 1974. They are vintage French
ballets from the second half of the last century. Carmen and L'Arlésienne
had already been performed at Teatro dell'Opera in 1992 and 2013. Le Jeune Homme et la Mort was a new entry for Rome. I saw and heard the performance on Sunday
afternoon 10 September 2017.
Let us start with this
short and very moving ballet. It is based on a poem by
Jean Cocteau, who also designed the costumes. The sets are by Georges
Wakhévitch. The music is by Johann Sebastian Bach. A young man knows that he is about to die, and
thinks of committing suicide, but a young woman arrives, unexpectedly, in
his poor apartment. He seems to acquire a new sense for life. But the
woman is Death
herself. A short and poignant ballet with a splendid Eleonora Abbagnato
and an excellent Stéphane Bullion.
The performance opened
with L'Arlésienne, the well known symphonic suite by Georges Bizet. The
sets by René Allio, based on van Gogh paintings and the costumes by
Christine Laurent were very elegant. Based on a short but tragic, novel
by Alphonse Daudet, the ballet renders the colors and atmosphere of
athletic Alessio Rezza excelled among the many dancers.
The third and final part
of the performance was Carmen, based on a suite from Bizet's
masterpiece. The plot is summarized in five scenes. The sets by Antoni
Clavé are based on Pablo Picasso's paintings. The salient points of the
opera were rendered quite well. Rebecca Bianchi and Claudio Cocino excelled
among the dancers.
The audience applauded
warmly. In short, this was a good start to a new season. I have only a
regret: the music was taped since the orchestra was
on holiday after its intense summer season at the Terme di Caracalla.