Paris Opera star finally bowed after 3 unsuccessful attempts to leave
Saying goodbye can be difficult, and for a Paris Opera principal dancer who has been trying to leave since 2019, it can also be time consuming.
Eleonora Abbagnato, a “star” (the highest ranking in the ballet company), has seen three farewell performances canceled but is determined that the fourth attempt on Friday will be real.
“I think this is my last chance,” the 42-year-old Italian said with a laugh.
Abbagnato was due to leave in December 2019, but the show was canceled due to another Opera staff strike.
Then the pandemic intervened to cancel two other farewells scheduled for 2020.
Missing a star’s farewell – a classic event with a marathon standing ovation and a blizzard of confetti and glitter – would have been a shame.
Thus, nearly a quarter of a century after joining the company, Abbagnato returns to the Palais Garnier for one more tour with a tribute to the famous choreographer Roland Petit.
“It is as if I had never left. I am rediscovering the incredible energy of the Palais Garnier, it is one of the most beautiful places”, declared Abbagnato who, since 2015, has assumed the double role of principal dancer in Paris and ballet director at the Rome Opera. Housing.
Ending Friday with Petit is a perfect gift, she said.
“It was he who discovered me at the age of 11 in a small private school in Sicily. It was the great choreographer of French dance who brought me to the Paris Opera.”
It is indeed a bit of a fairy tale: born into a Palermo family more interested in football, Abbagnato fell in love with ballet when her mother left her in a dance school while she was working after- midday in a clothing store above.
Spotted by Petit, then by the legendary director of the Paris Opera ballet school Claude Bessy, at the age of 14 she became one of the rare foreigners among the “little Opera rats”, or ballerina trainees.
– Countryside –
Abbagnato, who has two children with ex-footballer Federico Balzaretti, is barely retiring.
Accustomed to television in her native country, she sees her mission as “saving Italian dance”, which has lost two companies – in Florence and Verona – in recent years.
She helped revive the Rome Ballet, attracting world-renowned choreographers and partnering with Dior, although she faced a brief crisis in 2019 when a dancers’ union criticized her “disrespectful attitude.”
Petit, who died in 2011, remains a revered figure whose flamboyance transformed French dance in the second half of the 20th century.
On Friday, Abbagnato will appear in two of her ballets, “Le Rendez-Vous” and “Le Jeune Homme et la Mort” (“The Young Man and Death”) – a ballet she has danced several times since the age of 19 years old.
“Roland Petit took me to all these beautiful roles, very very young, and until the end of my career,” she said. “It’s only fitting that I end this much of my life with him.”
© 2021 AFP