2005 – Carla Fracci

Leonardo Career Prize Winners  

An Italian icon of classical ballet, acknowledged and appreciated around the world, Carla Fracci is undoubtedly one of the greatest ballet dancers of this century. Uncontested queen in the Olympus of ballet, in a lifetime full of achievement ,Carla Fracci has travelled thousands of kilometres, on tiptoes, to bring the virtuosity of her sensational talent to five continents which, underpinned by tireless effort, has become pure art.

Starting from La Scala in Milan where she studied, Carla Fracci has risen to be an ambassador for Italian art and culture around the world, performing in all the major opera houses. Over the years, in a series of engagements and international achievements, Carla Fracci’s light footsteps have left their mark on the stages of the American Ballet Theatre in New York, the Paris Opera House, La Fenice in Venice, the San Carlo Theatre in Naples, the Verona Arena and the Royal Opera House in London; every show and every performance moves and seduces the audience.

In 1958 she became prima ballerina at La Scala and in the same year met the choreographer John Cranko, who asked her to be Juliet in his new version of Romeo and Juliet at La Fenice in Venice. Then in 1959, for the first time she performed Giselle at the Royal Festival Hall in London, the role that would establish her reputation around the world. The following years were marked by a series of engagements and achievements. In 1974 she started dancing with the American Ballet Theatre. She became director of the corps de ballet at the San Carlo Theatre in Naples in 1988, and later held the same position at the Verona Arena and La Scala. She directed the corps de ballet at the Verona Arena from 1995 to 1997.

She has been a member of the Brera Fine Arts Academy since 1994,and is currently artistic director of the Opera House in Rome. The grace and rare sensitivity of this extraordinary performer give wonderful new facets to ballet heroines: from Aurora to Gelsomina, from Odile/Odette to Swanilda, Carla Fracci has given something of herself to these icons, thus becoming an icon too.

As the great poet, Eugenio Montale, wrote about her: “Carla Fracci is Juliet… Carla, an eternal young dancer.”


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