The classic romantic ballet Giselle is coming to Singapore and will be performed by the ballet company of one of the oldest opera houses in the world, Teatro di San Carlo from Naples, Italy.
Built in 1737 on orders by the Bourbon monarch, it pre-dates La Scala in Milan and La Fenice in Venice, which were built closer to the end of the 18th century.
This is the first time the ballet company of Teatro di San Carlo is performing in Singapore.
Its show at Marina Bay Sands takes place on Wednesday and April 28 and 29. Tickets cost between $65 and $225 each.
The 100-minute performance features Italian ballet dancer and choreographer Giuseppe Picone, 41, in the role of nobleman Albrecht.
Playing his love interest, in the title role as peasant girl Giselle, is Belarusian ballerina Ekaterina Oleynik. They will also joined by 52 other dancers.
BOOK IT / GISELLE
WHERE: Grand Theatre, MasterCard Theatres at Marina Bay Sands, 10 Bayfront Avenue
WHEN: Wednesday and April 28 and 29, 8pm
ADMISSION: $65 to $225 from Sistic (call 6348-5555 or go to www.sistic.com.sg)
The production features the original music by French composer Adolphe Adam.
The original choreography by French choreographers Jean Coralli and Jules Perrot will be reimagined by Italian former prima ballerina Anna Razzi.
Picone's appointmentlast year as artistic director of the ballet company has him coming full circle in his career.
He was born in Naples and the ballet school was where he started training, at 10 years old.
"It's certainly one of the most wonderful things to happen to a dancer - to start dancing in a company and become the artistic director of that company. It's like a fairy tale," he says in Italian-accented English.
Besides dancing, he now has to contend with bureaucracy and paper work - "all the things a dancer normally doesn't have to do".
"There's a lot on my shoulders now, but it's nice to be back," he adds.
Picone has made a name for himself performing in some of the most renowned dance companies in the world.
He was part of the English National Ballet in London between 1993 and 1997, during which one of his fans was the late Princess Diana, who was a patron of the ballet company.
"Once, we went to dinner with her. She was really lovely," he recalls fondly.
At age 21, he joined the American Ballet Theatre in New York as its first Italian male dancer.
He has also been invited to dance with companies such as the Bolshoi Theatre in Russia and The Royal Ballet of London.
This is his first visit to Singapore, but the role of Albrecht is not new to him, having performed it countless times in his career.
But he maintains an almost childlike excitement over the role, which he still finds challenging after all these years.
"It's one of my favourite roles. Albrecht and Romeo are the first two roles I danced at the start of my career," he says.
Like Shakespeare's tragedy Romeo And Juliet, the production of Giselle has a dark side.
Giselle dies of a broken heart and, in the second half of the ballet, becomes part of a group of ghostly women known as the Wilis, who are known to dance men to death.
But Giselle saves Albrecht by dancing with him and protecting him against the power of the Wilis.
Picone says: "The drama in the ballet is amazing. That spiritual second act is, for me, the best part choreographed for a ballet. I never get bored of it. "