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Rome Opera Ballet


Giselle Reloaded

by Patrizia Vallone

July 2, 2004 -- Teatro Costanzi, Rome

It is universally known that Carla Fracci has been one of the greatest Giselles. Through her long career she danced the role with superstar partners like Erik Bruhn, Rudolf Nureyev, Vladimir Vasiliev, Mikhail Baryshnikov and many others, always adding depth and freshness to her performance. In the first act she was lovely and cheerful, in the mad scene she was hopeful and dreaming, in the second act she was a pure spirit. No wonder that the first work she chose to mount/choreograph for the Rome Opera Ballet, which she has been directing for 3 years now, was "Giselle."

Her research work led Fracci to add some mime scenes that are generally dropped from other productions. The ballet opens when the orchestra is still playing the overture and with the Duke of Courland, Bathilde, Albrecht and their party going hunting. Albrecht leaves with an excuse, and we all know where he is going!

When the Duke of Courland arrives with his party in Giselle's village, Bathilde joins the dances, dancing a court dance with 6 chevaliers. In the "mad scene", Giselle runs suddenly into her house and comes back out holding a bridal (or Wili) veil which she hands to Bathilde, who runs away in tears. The ballet ends with Bathilde trying to console Albrecht weeping by Giselle's grave.

Since Fracci's identification with the character of Giselle is still total, from her point of view everything that is an obstacle to her love for Albrecht is something bad. Therefore Hilarion is portrayed like a wicked, envious man who only feels happy and satisfied when he can put Albrecht into a bad light.

Roberto Bolle was invited to dance Albrecht for only 2 performances and was welcomed by the audience like the superstar he is. His Albrecht is not only very decorative, thanks to his very good looks and figure, but deeply involved with Giselle. His technique is superb. In the second act he performed a series of entrechats before Myrtha and the Wilis. Was that an hommage to Nureyev who in 1980 created a storm dancing "Giselle" with Fracci in the same theatre after an absence of 14 years?

Laura Comi as Giselle looked like a a clone of Carla Fracci.  The coaching could not have been more evident. She was lovely and sweet and performed the role very well. Silvia Curti and Riccardo Di Cosmo were the nice peasants in the first act pas de deux and the entire company danced very well. The orchestra played well, too, which is very rare for a ballet performance.

So everything was o.k. All the performances were sold out, with people standing at the back of the stalls, which is very unusual in an Italian theatre. Why did the management only agree to 5 performances of "Giselle", when they should have known that this ballet always sells out? When will they become more open minded about dance and improve the number of performances?


Edited by Jeff.

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