“Sylvia”, the ballet by Manuel Legris, is back on stage at the Scala in Milan with seven performances until May 26

Manuel Legris, the Director of the Corps de Ballet at the Scala in Milan, brings back “Sylvia” on stage up to 26 May with great returns, in the seven performances scheduled. A great showcase for the Scala artists who will once again play, or will face for the first time, the main roles of ballet.

by Michele Olivieri
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Photo: Sylvia – Manuel Legris at the end of the Scaligero debut; Photo Credit: Brescia and Amisano © Teatro alla Scala

First happy meeting of the Corps de Ballet of La Scala with Manuel Legris, who would later become the Director of the Corps de Ballet, “Sylvia” inaugurated the 2019/2020 Ballet Season. Now, more than two years after the Scala debut, years in which the Company has worked on many projects, the staff has consolidated and further matured on an artistic and interpretative level, many challenges have been overcome and won, it is represented up to 26 May with great returns, but also debuts, in the seven performances scheduled.

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“Sylvia ou la Nymphe de Diane” was staged at the Paris Opera in 1876. Manuel Legris created his version in 2018

Inspired by the pastoral drama “Aminta” by Torquato Tasso, “Sylvia ou la Nymphe de Diane” was staged at the Paris Opera in 1876. Among mythological glories, nymphs, satyrs, shepherds and the Olympians, was the extraordinary score of Léo Delibes to triumph: refined and very rich in rhythms, harmonies and melodies, he had a convinced admirer in Tchaikovsky.

In the wake of the French tradition, Manuel Legris created his version in 2018, giving new life and a new look to one of the great classics of the nineteenth century, with freshness and energy, strong characters and virtuosity, enhanced by the installation by Luisa Spinatelli, of great visual impact.

In a rich and articulated plot where divinity and humanity, love and pride, nymphs and hunters, fauns and shepherds, positive and negative forces, intertwine, Eros’s arrow hits Sylvia, overcoming her refusal and making her surrender to love for the shepherd Aminta, overcome the pitfalls of Orion.

 

“Sylvia” by Manuel Legris, a glittering masterpiece of dances and divertissement, of virtuosity and lyrical moments

The play is a great showcase for the Scala artists who will once again play, or will face for the first time, the main roles of ballet: in the role of Sylvia, Martina Arduino, the May 11 at the opening of the performances and in the first rerun on the 13th; Nicoletta Manni in the performances of 21 and 24; Maria Celeste Losa on May 26, while Alice Mariani will make her debut, in the performances of May 20 and 25. In the role of Aminta will alternate Nicola Del Freo, Marco Agostino and, in the role debut, Timofej Andrijashenko; in that of Orione Christian Fagetti, Gabriele Corrado and Marco Agostino.

Eros will be played by Mattia Semperboni, Nicola Del Freo and Domenico Di Cristo, debuting in the role, while Diana will be played by Maria Celeste Losa, Alessandra Vassallo and for the first time by Caterina Bianchi. Next to them the soloists and the whole corps de ballet are engaged in impersonating satyrs, silenes, dryads, naiads hunters and vestals, peasants and slaves who populate this fantastic and compelling world, musically evoked by the splendid score of Delibes, performed by the Theater Orchestra at the Scala direct, as at the Viennese debut and at the Scala debut with Kevin Rhodes

“Sylvia ou la Nymphe de Diane” was staged for the first time at the Paris Opera in 1876; Louis Mérante was the choreographer, and the ballet was the first to be staged in the recent Opera Garnier theater with Rita Sangalli, from La Scala, the first protagonist. The French tradition of this ballet – which in the years following the French debut was set up with other choreographies in Europe and Russia – brings back to various authors, who over time took up this ballet at the Opéra, starting in 1919 by Léo Staats, then Serge Lifar in 1941, Albert Aveline in 1946 up to Lycette Darsonval in the late 1970s.

 

Manuel Legris created his version of “Sylvia” for Wiener Staatsballett in 2018

In the wake of this French tradition, Manuel Legris created his version for the Wiener Staatsballett in 2018, addressing this title, so linked to his training and academic ballet, from which he draws to bring this ballet to life, inspired by an intricate plot but who, dealing with a universal theme such as love, loses any risk of cloying and goes to meet today’s public, to fascinate them with a timeless story immersed in a fantastic atmosphere.

The dramaturgy and the libretto were edited by Manuel Legris and Jean-François Vazelle (by Jules Barbier and Jacques de Reinach authors of the original libretto), with many roles well characterized by a precise and specific choreographic language, in order to make absolutely clear and history and its intertwining are legible.

Indeed, the driver of the story, Diana’s hidden love for Endymion, is clarified in the prologue, usually only musical. Tradition and heritage, modernization and simplification, neither falsifying nor betraying – these are the cornerstones of the work done for this new Sylvia, who has not aimed at philological recovery but wants to maintain the original spirit, adding a touch of freshness, to bring the public back to pleasure of attending a classical ballet, which despite not having had the same fortune and resonance as the “Swan Lake” or the “Nutcracker” deserves to have a respectable place in the panorama of 19th century classics.

 

Sylvia, Diana’s nymph, the shepherd Aminta and their conflicting stories of love were staged at La Scala in 1894

Co-produced with the Teatro ala Scala, “Sylvia” made its debut with the Scala Ballet Company in December 2019, effectively decreeing a new entry into the Company’s repertoire: before then Sylvia, Diana’s nymph, the shepherd Aminta and their conflicting stories of love were staged at La Scala in 1894 when Giorgio Saracco reproduced the choreography of Mérante with inevitable variations and a famous protagonist, Carlotta Brianza; on the stage of the Scala in Milan it was then the “New York City Ballet” that danced in 1953 Sylvia: Pas de Deux, step two from the third act created by George Balanchine in 1950 for Maria Tallchief and André Eglevsky.


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