The Ballet Company of Teatro alla Scala
The Ballet Company of Teatro alla Scala has a glorious past dating back to the centuries prior to the opening in 1778 of the world’s most celebrated musical theatre, which is still its home today. Even before the founding of the Imperial-Royal Academy of Ballet of La Scala in 1813, eminent choreographers such as Gasparo Angiolini and Salvatore Viganò held great influence over European ballet. Then, the illustrious teacher and theorist, Carlo Blasis, introduced the ballet into the Romanticist atmosphere, thus contributing to the technical innovation of its style. Enrico Cecchetti took the Italian style of teaching academic technique to Russia, from where it evolved around the world thanks to Sergei Diaghilev’s Ballets Russes which he joined before ending his career at La Scala.
And so, the Ballet Company of La Scala entered the twentieth century, thanks also to remarkable choreographers from Diaghilev’s company such as Mikhail Fokin and Léonide Massine. New names arrived from the worlds of the free and expressionist dance of Central Europe, names such as Aurel Milloss, whom Arturo Toscanini charged with the task of rebuilding the Company following the Second World War. For his repertoire, Milloss invited great musicians and celebrated set designers and painters, as well as illustrious guests such as George Balanchine. In the 1950s and 1960s, La Scala became a stage open to the stars of the world of ballet. The choreographers Roland Petit and Maurice Béjart debuted in 1963 and 1971 respectively, while the étoiles included Carla Fracci, Liliana Cosi, Luciana Savignano, Paolo Bortoluzzi. Guest appearances were made by Margot Fonteyn and Yvette Chauviré, as well as Rudolf Nureyev, who became closely associated with La Scala from 1965, as did Alessandra Ferri in the 1990s.
More recently, the Ballet Company of La Scala has grown in international visibility, performing at the Paris Opéra, in the United States, at the Bolshoi in Moscow and the Mariinsky-Kirov Theatre in Saint Petersburg, in Germany, Turkey, Brazil, Spain, Mexico, China and Australia. The expressive and technical appeal are guaranteed by three star names: Svetlana Zakharova, Roberto Bolle and Massimo Murru. But even some young principal dancers, soloists and members of the corps de ballet have been included in leading roles, initially by the much-loved Elisabetta Terabust, former director at La Scala (from 1993 to 1997, and again in 2007-2008) who recently died, and then by Makhar Vaziev (from 2009 to 2015), who also opted for internationally much-sought-after guests. In the conviction that, overall, a company should excel in rigour and versatility, great conductors have been called to the podium for the ballet, a further attraction for a Theatre and central to international musical life. An Italian, Mauro Bigonzetti, has alternated with Vaziev, albeit for only one season. Since October 2016, the leadership of the Ballet Company has again been entrusted to Frédéric Olivieri, previously director between 2002 and 2007. With renewed energy, he has enlarged the hierarchy and, today, among the principal dancers are to be found Nicoletta Manni, Claudio Coviello, Virna Toppi, Martina Arduino and Timofej Andrijashenko, while some of the soloists include names such as Massimo Garon, Marco Agostino, Vittoria Valerio, Federico Fresi, Alessandra Vassallo, Christian Fagetti, Nicola Del Freo and Maria Celeste Losa. From the ranks of the corps de ballet, young dancers are emerging, trained at the Ballet School, which is the Company’s - but not only - main source of new members, while also prominent entrées are frequently reserved for “additional dancers”. Olivieri is working to complement the academic repertoire with creations dedicated to the Ballet Company of La Scala: indeed, a great Company is distinguished by the care and attention it devotes to its young talents and by its ability to project itself towards ballet that reflects our times.
National Ballet of China Symphony Orchestra
The National Ballet of China Symphony Orchestra was founded in 1959. LIU Ju is the resident conductor. The Orchestra members mainly graduated from renowned music academies of China. At the average age of 35, they all have been subject to rigorous professional training with excellent musicquality. As a national orchestra of China, the NBC Symphony Orchestra has great vitality and potential for development.
In the early days, the Orchestra has received warm care from Premier ZHOU Enlai. And it has engaged many famous conductors, like LI Delun, HAN Zhongjie, HUANG Feili, HUANG Yijun and LIN Kechang, in giving concerts and master classes.
Since the Reform and Opening-up of China, the Orchestra has made considerable progress in art production under the leadership of ZHAO Ruheng, the former Artistic Director of NBC. Jean Perrison (from France), the internationally renowned conductor has visited the Orchestra and offered guidance during his stay in China; the chief conductor of Peru's National Symphony Orchestra Ashley Lawrence, chief conductor of Royal Danish Ballet Peter Larsen held concert with the orchestra separately. In addition, the ballet and symphonic music concerts conducted by Chinese conductors like LI Guoquan, BIAN Zushan, HU Bingxu, CHEN Zuohuang, TAN Lihua, HU Yongyan, LI Xincao, YANG Yang are extensively acclaimed by music community from at home and abroad.
Led by the Artistic Director FENG Ying and Music Director ZHANG Yi in recent years, the Orchestra held concerts actively and performed a lot of excellent music works of different times as well as different styles, such as the classical romantic works of Bach, Mozart, Beethoven, Mendelssohn and Schumann; the modern classic works of Debussy, Ravel, Stravinsky, Richard Strauss, Mahler and Bernstein; and the Russian music works of Tchaikovsky, Prokofiev, Rachmaninoff, Moussorgsky, Shostakovich and Kabalevsky. The Orchestra also premiered a series of new music works of Chinese outstanding composers cooperating with the NCPA. The cooperation with the world famous conductors like Max Pommer and Schumalfuss, cellists like Gustav Rivinus and Li-Wei Qin, tenor like Carreras, pianists like Lang Lang, CHEN Sa and TAN Xiaotang, violinists like LÜ Siqing and NING Feng, as well as the famous Japanese composers Joe Hisaishi has great significance to the progress of the Orchestra.
In order to celebrate the 55th anniversary of the establishment of NBC in 2014, the NBC Symphony Orchestra made an 8-CD album of the live concerts. With the further advance made in the development of Chinese literature and art, the NBC Symphony Orchestra will be more irreplaceable in the artistic stage of Beijing in the near future with its excellent competitiveness and unique artistic style.