Roland Petit, the distinguished
French choreographer, created the Ballet
La Chauve-souris in 1979 for
the Ballet Nationale de Marseille. Its
premiere was given in Monte Carlo. Luigi
Bonino danced the part portraying a
character based upon Alfred in the original
Strauss operetta. Bonino played the
same part of Ulrich in Tokyo and later
repeated the role in this production
by the La Scala company. The present
version is directed for the stage by
Bonino and Jean-Philippe Halnaut, under
the Italian Title ‘Il pipistrello’.
It includes further changes to the staging.
The story of the ballet
is loosely based upon that of the original
operetta. The Eisensteins become Johann
and Bella, a slightly bored bourgeois
married couple; Alfred, the lover of
Rosalinda, becomes a manipulative joker
and ladies’ man Ulrich. Johann rises
from the marital bed costumed as a bat
and flies through the sky for a night’s
adventure ‘chez Maxim’. Bella, egged
on by Ulrich follows in a new costume;
Johann of course does not recognise
his wife and tries to seduce her. Many
complications follow and Johann ends
up in prison. He is rescued by Bella
and returns home where she cuts off
his wings and gives him carpet slippers
for a future of domestic bliss.
The expert choreography
of Roland Petit produces a sparkling
and colourful ballet. The dancing here
is brilliant; not a moment of boredom!
It would be difficult for anyone not
to enjoy this supremely happy work.
The parts of Johann
and of Bela, are danced by Massimo Murru
and Alessandra Ferri, the stars of La
Scala Ballet. Their performances are
exemplary - great dancing and visual
acting. Ludgi Bonino, of course, created
the part of Ulrich and must be counted
as the star performer. The roles of
the members of the company are taxing
but a very high standard is achieved.
The costumes are especially noteworthy.
Die Fledermaus contains
some of Johann Strauss’s most memorable
tunes. These have been woven expertly
by Douglas Gamley who has not hesitated
to incorporate music from other works
by the Waltz King. The end-result is
ballet music of the first order. Kevin
Rhodes conducts the La Scala Orchestra
As a lover of the original
Die Fledermaus operetta, I must confess
that I approached this DVD with some
trepidation. However I was captivated
by the dancing, from waltzes to Csárdas,
and a rousing French can-can. The mix
of Parisian esprit, Viennese charm and
Milanese elegance is just irresistible.