Finally, I am inside La Scala. Had to get a special i.d. – a bit like struggling through homeland security. They still have my driver’s license, I may never see it again. Right now, I don’t care.
Needless to say, it is beautiful, six balconies tall, and a bit spooky since it is completely dark. There is nothing quite as dark as deep inside a theater. It is pre-opening rehearsal and everybody has a massive case of jitters. There’s a lot of arguing and pointing and moving lights and twirling dance moves over and over. I am sitting here with my iPad on its darkest-dark setting and pretty much holding my breath.
Right now a lone dancer perches on a sky-blue loveseat as they tweak the lights around her. The set is minimal, with two giant mirrors, the aforementioned loveseat, and a bed. There is a lot of “Bene grazie, silencio, basta,” coming over the speakers.
A young dancer with long hair begins dancing to “Celia,” a Vosco Rossi ballad that I have not heard before. This piece seems to be about a young woman as she springs out of bed and tries on a few outfits…in a very balletic and beautiful way. It sounds silly but it is gorgeous and sophisticated, even surprising – dare I say, Italian.
The Italians idealize, no, revere young women. There is just enough nudity onstage to make L’altra Meta del Cielo very adult, however. The gritty music has a roughness that elevates the piece from Sugar Plum Fairies. The director keeps yelling, “Chris? Bob?” in a petulant way that suggests this will be a very long day for everyone.
A faceted mirror ball is rotating onstage that creates an effect of stylized snow. There are thirty or so slim, elegant dancers, the director calls them “ragazzi,” and as they spring into the dance I see why. They flip and snap their bodies in twirly skirts, form-fitting Armani-style suits and leather jackets. One woman has a pair of leather boots. Imagine a slim bird or angel dancing in Uggs.
The costumes are far from cliche – this is the fashion capital of the universe – so no resemblance to Sharks and Jets. They are stylized and bright, with the occasional flash of shiny fabric or long leg. L’altra Meta del Cielo is a balletic piece with elegant physicality, and when the music is rough it adds an interesting undertone of violence.