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Carla Fracci and Dancers of the Rome Opera Theater Ballet - 'Girotondo Romano'

by Patrizia Vallone

December 20, 2003 -- Teatro Nazionale, Rome

While the Rome Opera Theater's ballet company was busy with "Swan Lake," its principals, soloists, and director Carla Fracci were performing "Girotondo Romano" at the Teatro Nazionale, a secondary venue of the Rome Opera, just a stone's throw from the main house.

The plot of this ballet, created by Luciano Cannito to music by the late Nino Rota -- celebrated composer of, among other works, many film scores, including "The Leopard," the "Godfather" series, and Fellini's movies -- is based on Arthur Schnitzler's "Reigen" (many will know Max Ophüls’ 1950 movie "La Ronde"). Cannito moved the story to a gay and colorful Rome of the 1950s-1960s, with all its most typical and famous spots.

The prostitute Cabiria -- Carla Fracci -- meets a soldier, who in turn meets a maid, who meets a young gentleman, and so forth. All the characters are in love with somebody who doesn't want them, and each is loved by someone they don't want.

The ballet is therefore a succession of neoclassical-style pas de deux interspersed with appearances by Cabiria, who, being expert in the ways of the world, tries to console the abandoned women.

A ballet made up almost exclusively of pas de deux is certainly very risky; monotony is always lurking around the corner. Nonetheless, Cannito has succeeded in personalizing each character with appropriate steps and gestures; their personalities are drawn with irony and a humorous enhancement of their weaknesses and tics. Though they are all suffering for love, there is never sadness or melancholy, only a smile. Steps and lifts are all original, and we don’t have that stuffy déjà vu feeling that afflicts a lot of contemporary choreography. The ballet proceeds very smoothly with bright rhythm, and keeps our curiosity sharp.

The casting couldn't have been better; each dancer was perfectly at ease, and the parts were a perfect fit. All were so skilled, endearing, and funny that they deserve to be mentioned by name: Silvia Curti (The Maid), Flavia Feliziani (The Wife), Laura Comi (The Fake Young Girl), Tiziana Lauri (The Actress with Elocution Problems), Gaia Straccamore (The Young Duchess), Riccardo Di Cosmo (The "Bersagliere" Soldier), Alessandro Tiburzi (The Young Gentleman), Guido Pistoni (The Husband), Manuel Paruccini (The Poet), Mario Marozzi (The Movie Star) and Alfonso Paganini (The Minister).

Nino Rota's music, arranged by Tonino Esposito and performed live by the Girotondo Ensemble, is beautiful and seductive. Mauro Gioia, as the Waiter, was always onstage, holding the story's threads together and singing the famous Roman songs with a warm and suave voice. Maria Filippi's very colorful costumes and Maurizio Varamo's witty sets contributed to the ballet's great success.

Edited by Lori Ibay

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