On Friday, November 11, 2016, the La Scala Academy Ballet School opens the 2016-2017 season of the Teatro Carlo Felice of Genoa with the ballet Cinderella, with music by Sergei Prokofiev, commissioned by the Bracco Foundation.
The much loved ballet, which was performed to rousing acclaim in Italy and abroad in 2015 and 2016, will be performed again in Liguria’s major city on Saturday and Sunday, November 12 and 13. It features choreography by the Ballet School director, Frédéric Olivieri.
Countless choreographers have interpreted the various musical scores composed since the nineteenth century to capture the essence of Perrault’s fairy tale, written in 1697. Frédéric Olivieri chose Prokofiev’s score and Nicolai Volkov’s libretto, dating to 1941-1944, preserving a romantic, fairy-tale style well suited to the young ages of the performers.
Many productions were staged in the twentieth century based on Prokofiev’s music. Suffice it to recall the historical travesti version in 1948 by Frederick Ashton for the Sadlers Wells Ballet; Alfred Rodrigues’ 1955 production where Violette Verdy was replaced in the role of Cinderella in several performances by a young Carla Fracci, fresh out of school; or that by Paolo Bortoluzzi in 1977, where the dancers emerged from an enormous book of fairy tales, with Luciana Savignano in the role of Cinderella and Bortoluzzi himself as the Prince. And then there was Maguy Marin’s choreography for the Lyon Opera in which the characters wore foam rubber suits and plastic masks and moved like dolls; Nureyev’s 1986 version set in 1930s Hollywood with Sylvie Giullem and Charles Jude; John Neumeier’s 1992 production titled Cinderella Story for the Hamburg Ballet, embellished with other music by Prokofiev; and Matthew Bourne’s in 1997 for Adventures in Motion Pictures. Still more recent, we mention the futuristic version by Yuri Possokhov, on stage with Svetlana Zakharova at the Mariinsky Theatre in Saint Petersburg in 2006 with the libretto narrated by a troubadour amidst galaxies, drug-laced oranges and magical powers; and, opening the 2015-2016 La Scala season, Cinderella by Mauro Bigonzetti with Roberto Bolle and Polina Semionova.
The story inspired many others to create choreographies based on the music of different composers: Filippo Bertini choreographed the ballet for La Scala in 1818 with music by Mozart; Lev Ivanov, Enrico Cecchetti and Marius Petipa created the 19th century’s best known version (1893) for the Mariinsky Theatre in Saint Petersburg with Pierina Legnani as Cinderella (this was the first time she executed thirty-two consecutive fouettés en tournant); Emil Graeb created the choreography for Aschenbrödel on music by Johann Strauss II (completed and orchestrated by Josef Bayer) for the Berlin Staatsoper in 1901, setting the action in The Four Seasons department store with Grete, a sales assistant in the women’s fashion department, as the protagonist.
The Ballet School proposes Cinderella in two acts, each with its special highlights. The first act features the dance of the fairies of Spring, Summer, Autumn and Winter summoned by the Fairy Godmother to transform Cinderella’s dream into reality and take her to the Prince’s ball. Highlights of the second act include the Spring ball, the dance of the three oranges – a gift from the Prince contended by Cinderella’s two step-sisters – , the Spanish and Arab dances, and the variations and pas de deux of Cinderella and the Prince.
A host of Academy students and former students have been called upon to produce the ballet, from tailors, hair and makeup specialists to wig makers, set designers and photographers. The stage sets were created by Angelo Sala, the costumes of the main dancers were designed by Chiara Donato, and the sculptures are the work of Fausta Cerizza, former student in the Set Designers Course. The costumes were sewn and decorated by students and former students of the Course for Theatre Tailors and by Sartoria Brancato.
Over one hundred Ballet School students will be on stage in this production, which enjoys the financial support of Fondazione Cariplo (#SostieneCariplo).