Ballets come and go, and every once in a while a production that hasn’t been seen in years suddenly becomes ubiquitous. It can still be Notre Dame of Paristhe fate of: after ten years in the vaults of the world of ballet, this ballet by Roland Petit from 1965 is back this month at the Teatro alla Scala in Milan, will be broadcast on Thursday in international theaters and will soon be revived in Future betting.
Less than two years after Petit’s death, the staging of La Scala is an opportunity to re-examine what is considered one of his masterpieces. This Our Lady moves away from 19th century ballet versions of Victor Hugo’s novel to tell a simplified, slightly less sentimental story. Maurice Jarre’s score is relentlessly dark, with percussion as the driving force; Yves Saint Laurent’s costumes range from simple, colorful tunics to Quasimodo’s gray gargoyle number, and the outlines of the cathedral used as backdrops are also stylized.
Petit’s choreography, on the other hand, has a frankness, a theatricality that gives the classic steps an expressionist edge. His characteristic interplay between upturned and turned stances is present, and he weaves ordinary gestures or imagery into his work at every turn, pushing them as metaphors for the characters. Grotesque poses and bent feet define the Court of Miracles; Phoebus and his archers trotted as on horses; Quasimodo’s protruding elbow is a constant reminder of his deformity.
The body scenes overdo it, unfortunately, with lots of shuffling and sweeping gestures reminiscent of Soviet choreography and little actual dancing. Petit’s use of hands is a striking element, however, beginning with variations on jazz hands for the beggars and thieves of Notre Dame, alluding to invisible or menacing bells. For Frollo, they represent both prayer and temptation, the only part of his body not covered by his severe black costume, and he hides them in horror when his desire for Esmeralda threatens to be unleashed.
With her corset-like tunics and sultry footwork, Petit’s Esmeralda is a cousin to her famous Carmen, and it doesn’t get any better. enfant terrible to play it today than Natalia Osipova, the former Bolshoi star who fled to the Mikhailovsky Ballet in St. Petersburg. Her legs are both ordinary and extraordinary for the ballet stage: not immediately striking but lightning-fast and explosive in their effects, notably the gravity-defying leaps for which she is famous. As Esmeralda, she makes full use of them, commanding the stage with mischievous ardor from her initial variation, and her starkly realistic desperation in act two recalls the larger-than-life acting she has honed over the years. years.
Italian ballet star Roberto Bolle was making an unlikely debut as Quasimodo opposite her. Bolle regularly moonlights as a model and even in full makeup, he always looks better than anyone on stage; It is a valiant artistic effort, but hampered by this harsh reality. The company is still finding its way into ballet after an 11-year hiatus, but Mick Zeni in particular was a fine and obsessive Frollo. More new castings will follow, including a debut as Quasimodo for Osipova’s longtime partner Ivan Vasiliev.