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La Scala Ballet

‘La strada’, ‘Le jeune homme et la mort’

March 2006
Milan, Teatro degli Arcimboldi

by Susy

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La Scala Ballet danced four performances of a double bill on the stage of the Teatro degli Arcimboldi and I attended the last one.

The evening opened with "La strada", a choreography by Mario Pistoni after Fellini's film. First performed 40 years ago by Carla Fracci, it tells the story of a young and innocent girl, Gelsomina, sold by her mother to Zampanò, whose life consists in moving from one town to another, cracking iron bars and chains with the sheer strength of his muscles. Their journeys are punctuated by various meetings, each followed by Zampanò's escalation in crime and Gelsomina's escalation in sorrow. When the Fool appears, Gelsomina finds a matching sensible soul but her joy is short. Zampanò's violence bursts, the Fool is killed and Gelsomina abandoned.

The main role, with its evocative mood and stark contrast with the lively crowd, has been tackled by many Italian ballerinas, among them Oriella Dorella, also in the filmed version, and recently Alessandra Ferri. On Saturday Gelsomina was danced by Gilda Gelati. I found her interpretation monotonous and her palette not enough nuanced so that the last 20 minutes of the ballet lacked the necessary climax. She wasn’t helped by her partners Brian Hewison and Antonino Sutera, both missing something of their characters, while the rest of the company was superb.

The second ballet was Petit's "Le jeune homme te la mort". Again a ballet strictly connected with its first interpreter, Jean Babilée. In the 60 years since the creation this masterpiece has been tackled by many great dancers, among them Nureyev, Baryshnikov, Dupond and recently Le Riche. On Saturday we saw Roberto Bolle. He was dancing it for the second time but it seemed he has done it for ages. His partner was again Darcey Bussell and together they were absolutely mesmerizing in the highly dramatic and erotic mood of this pas de deux. In the claustrophobic atmosphere of the tiny attic one could distinctly listen to the Bach’s Passacaglia punctuated by his sighs and moans while the female vision reveals herself as the Death. Now that they have intensified their work together one can sense and delights in the great feeling between Bussell and Bolle and nurture high expectations for their future projects on stage.

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