Hamlet, Prince of Dream
Rome Opera Ballet
The 2002 Rome Opera ballet season closed in December with Amleto, Principe del Sogno, starring Carla Fracci and the male dancers of the Rome Opera Ballet. The subject was conceived by Beppe Menegatti (Fracci’s husband) and choreographed by Luc Bouy to music by Schostakovich.
The history of this ballet is a bit tortuous. The original project, announced at the beginning of the season, was meant to be a more traditional ballet, with Vladimir Malakhov as Hamlet and 67-year-old Fracci as Gertrude. Malakhov, however, fell in love with the idea of portraying Hamlet and decided to create a ballet of his own and perform it with the American Ballet Theater, thus leaving the Rome Opera in the lurch.
At this point, Menegatti recalled that great lady of the stage, Judith Anderson, whom he had met in the 1960s in New York. Having already played both Ophelia and Gertrude many times, she was about to take on the part of Hamlet himself.
Inspired by her example, Menegatti figured that if Judith Anderson had done it, so could Carla Fracci.
The ballet is set in New York in the sixties. The Actress (Fracci), wearing a filmy dark red silk dress, is alone and a bit tipsy in her pop-art-decorated apartment. The alcohol sets her to dreaming and recalling her past theatrical triumphs. The characters of Hamlet appear in her dream.
She casts aside the beautiful dress for an existentialist look — tight black pants, black sweater and a beret, and lo and behold, the Actress becomes the director of an imaginary theater production.
Following the dictates of Elizabethan theater, all the roles are performed by men. The story is played out in a complicated and often unclear way. Hamlet, affected by a stereotyped Oedipus complex, is morbidly attached to his mother’s skirts. Now and then apparitions materialize, but their meaning is mysterious.
At the end of the story, when Claudius is caught out, it is the Actress who takes Hamlet’s place behind a curtain and deals the king the fatal knife-thrust (looks like they really should have brushed up their Shakespeare…).
Luc Bouy’s choreography is not particularly original; he uses academic language with the addition of modern steps.
The dancers were all good, especially Mario Marozzi, a proud and haughty Hamlet, and Alessandro Molin as a deeply neurotic Gertrude. Handsome Alessandro Riga, barely seventeen and still a pupil at the Rome Opera ballet school, was noteworthy in the role of Ophelia, receiving warm and well-deserved applause.