"Giselle" - Maggio Danza/Florence 17-07-2001
A rainy day in the Florentine hills and I had to visit a huge shoppingcenter, the only place I know where to find 'Balletto Oggi' and 'Tutto Danza".
Having a quick lunch there seemed not the right decision : a hectic restaurant and no free places left.
So we ended up at a tiny table -helped by a kind customer- and I couldn't wait to have a look at my magazines.
'Ti ama la danza ?' asked the same man and we started talking.
Being the husband of one of Maggio Danza's ballerinas, I received instantly the 'Giselle'-castinglist out of first hand (thank you Maria-Grazia ! indeed : what a small world !)
I decided to go the first night to see Cristina Bosetti (soloist) and Alen Bottaini (the guest-star for the Boboli-performances) and hoped to be able to see Letizia Giuliani (a promising young ballerina) and Umberto De Luca on a later date.
Music : Adolphe Adam
Choreography : E.Polyakov
cast : Giselle : Cristina Bosetti
Albrecht : Alen Bottaini
Myrthe : Sabrina Vitangeli
Hilarion : Massimo Andaloro
I consider seeing ballet in the coolness of the evening and in the great surroundings of the "Boboli Gardens" as a real treat.
Every year -during the last weeks of July- Maggio Danza finishes his season with these 'open-air'performances. There is even some symbolism in this idea : already hundreds of years ago dance had a special place at Boboli.
Through the Porta Romana-entrance it's easy to reach 'Il Prato delle Colonne', the semi-circular grassfield.
It's just next to the magnificient column that the temporary-stage is build.
I can advise you to be there a good time in advance : there are no numbered seats and there is no raked auditorium.
Before the music sets off we got a free concert by the numerous crickets !
This year we saw no dancers warming up on stage and I somehow regret this as you don't get this opportunity often. To me this makes part of the open-air performance.
I saw most of the romantic ballets a long time after I discovered Béjart and although this is 'a world apart',again and again I'm moved by Giselle's story of 'unattainable love' and intrigued by 'dying of a broken heart'.
At 'curtain up' : well, this is the time when the spotlights -who are projected on the audicience- are dimmed, all distracting objects disappear... and one can hardly dream a better setting for "Giselle" !
first act :
Imagine Giselle's little cottage under real huge trees, now and then a 'lost' bird is passing while the music is swelling.
As Giselle entered the stage I was terrible disappointed !
She looked so tensed, this was not the young, playful girl one expect.
But it the next minutes I saw the most beautiful metamorphose ever ! Her Albrecht (Alen Bottaini) had the right influence and brought -together with his love- also youth to her
By the time we were at the 'love me/love me not'-part we had a radiant, charming, young Giselle.
Cristina is a little, vivid dancer with amazing finesse and effortless jumps. But, most of all I was astonished by her partner : what an impressive dancer is Alen Bottaini !
I have to admit that I had hardly heard about him, only knew he is dancing somewhere in Germany and a regular guest in Italy during summer.
Well, he has stolen my heart ! He is all elegance and stylish, a clean, energetic dancer. I can't recall seeing him doing high jumps but I do remember his soft landings
And...he is a marvellous actor ! Love, hate, despair, disconsolate suffering : we saw a real human Albrecht.
He really enjoyed dancing with his Giselle, they were a superb cast.
Massimo Andaloro's Hilarion was powerful but suffered under the stage-dominance of this wonderful Bosetti/Bottaini partnership.
Again, I loved the ghostly appearance when Giselle's mother warns her for dancing.
In the mad-scene, Cristina Bosetti was convincing but didn't touched me as much as other Giselle's did in the past.
During the interval my programme learned me that Bottaini is trained in Canada and London, he danced with Bolshoi Ballet and Kirov.
In 1996 he was Gold Medal winner in the Varna-competition.
Now he is Principal dancer at Bayerisches Staatsballet-Munich (Jawohl !)
second act :
Giselle's tomb under the massive trees, lights hidden behind trees and bushes to give a perspective into the surroundings, the church-bells ringing.... and one of my daughters suddenly sitting 'very' close to me....
Was there really flying a bat accross the stage or was it just an ordinary bird and was I carried away by the circumstances ?
Sabrina Vitangeli was a perfect Myrthe. She had an austerity and commanding authority-power over her Wilis.
Maggio Danza's corps de ballet was in great form !
These Wilis were as 'ghostly' as they could be and there slide-act was impressive and flawless.
The use of the corps de ballet in this act makes this ballet my lifetime favourite.
It was heartbreaking as -little by little- Albrecht (and the public) realizes that he is doomed to loose Giselle for a second time.
Even the certitude that he will be saved by dawn couldn't bring joy to me.
Despite the fact that this performance had not a 'full house', the dancers received a long, warm ovation and they loved it !
At curtain down, well this is the moment when the audience is showered by the huge, unmannered spotlights and my family was already on their way to the exit - I needed to stay for a while.
I couldn't believe what I saw : in the darkness of the stage Albrecht was thanking extensively his Giselle with kisses and...there seemed to be a lot of Wilis waiting.... Oh ! I felt as sneaking behind the curtain and enjoyed it
I noted Bottaini already down on my 'dancers male-list' of *must see again*.! (I need a confirmation of my enthusiasm, I know I am not totally unprejudiced in Italy )
After the ballet I heard that Frédéric Olivieri has been appointed as the new Artistic Director of Maggio Danza,beginning at the 2002/2003 season.
Current Director Elisabetta Terabust is leaving for La Scala, where she takes the place of Patricia Ruanne, who left at the beginning of this summerseason.
This info is confirmed on the website of Maggio Musicale.
Stepping out of an Operahouse into the night gives me always a bizarre feeling.
When you enters Italian nightlive after a performance you are awake immediately : hectic traffic down the curving road, passing the Piazzale Michelangelo -despite the midnightly hour- full with tourist busses.
With closed doors driving along the loud nightbars and dancings, crossing the river Arno with a last glimp on the impressive Duomo, on the fugitive for the nightly attack on the City with the worlds most important art-treasures.
Direction Fiesole is at that time synonyme for quiet and calm....Pian di Mugnone is the end of the world and then my route
goes -in first gear- up to my beloved hill. After the second hairpin curve, my breath caught - breaks on : I can't believe this !
20 little, sparkling,diamond eyes are as surprised as I am. A whole troupe of young, wild boars !
After this moment of confrontation, panic is sending them back into the protection of a neglected olive-tree ground.
Oh, how I love this country of contrasts : only 15 minutes driving away from the centre of buzzing Florence I had an 'encounter of a sublime kind' !
Together with tonight's "Giselle" I close this in my heart.