Danseuse Étoile and director of the Ballet at the Teatro dell’Opera in Rome, Eleonora Abbagnato talks about a dream called reality.
You have directed the Ballet of the Teatro dell’Opera since 2015. What does this role represent for you?
A prestigious position which I am proud of, one that involves challenges and responsibilities, which I immediately faced up to with enthusiasm and determination, as is my nature. Above all, it is a role that represents the joy of being able to share what the great masters, with whom I had the honour and the fortune of working, taught me. It came at the right time, when I felt really ready to give up and coming talents all the experience and happiness that dance has given me.
In your opinion, what are the strengths of the company and the guidelines for its growth?
It is a company that is growing every day, thanks to constant, daily work in class with our Maîtres de Ballet, and to the stimuli coming from the great guest choreographers. Its growth also is inspired by an openness to innovation and great contemporary dance, alongside the important work on the repertoire tradition. It is a young company made up of talents that are eager to learn and improve, a competitive group increasingly appreciated, not only in Italy but also abroad.
What teaching is to be transmitted to the Corps de ballet?
I ask a lot of commitment, passion and dedication of my dancers. What interests me, then, is the ability to transmit emotions, an aspect that has always been fundamental for me. I also want to transmit to the Ballet what, even more than teaching, is a desire to always give our theatre audience new surprises, so many emotions able to reach the hearts of all the spectators who come to see us.
How do you see the future of ballet in Rome?
I am very positive. Of course, there is no lack of difficulties for the dance in Italy, no point in denying it, but despite this, in recent years, thanks to the support of superintendent Carlo Fuortes, who greatly appreciates ballet, our company has embarked on a path of extraordinary growth, full of satisfaction, as shown by the excellent results of recent seasons and the growing attention to our work from the dance world.
What choreography of the past or present would you like to interpret?
If I think of the roles I would like to play in the final years of my career, I would like a creation designed specifically for me, maybe just a “pas seul”, why not…
With which stage partner have you experienced most feeling?
Benjamin Pech, with whom I danced one of my favourite roles, La Dame aux camélias by John Neumeier. Since 2013 you have been the star of the Paris Opera.
What does a young Italian girl feel like entering the temple of dance?
They told me it was impossible, but I did it and I’m proud of it. It was not easy, but it was my dream, for me dance always came first and this great passion gave me the strength to reach even the most ambitious goals, like being the first Italian named star of the Paris Opera.
The 2017-18 season has see you in May as the charismatic Manon, protagonist of the ballet of the same name by MacMillan, for the first time at the Teatro dell’Opera in Rome. What is this role go to give you?
Manon is an extremely fascinating woman, a magnetic figure capable of captivating anyone around her. She is a character that also calls for great skills from an interpretative point of view, because she has many different facets that must be understood and experienced to the end. For me this is particularly stimulating.
You open a drawer and find a dream: a place, in Rome, where you would like to bring dance to…
I would like to dance Annonciation by Angelin Preljocaj in front of Pope Francis, for me this would be a great dream.