Carla Fracci: Ballerina and Perfumer

Carla Fracci: Ballerina and Perfumer

This year, one of the best Giselles in the world - Carla Fracci - passed away. She was the first Italian ballerina in the 20th century, whose name gained worldwide fame.

After the end of World War II, Carla Fracci, who was born in Milan, entered La Scala Theatre Ballet School at the age of 9. Her teacher was Vera Volkova, a former student of Agrippina Vaganova. Young Carla was generously endowed by nature - her doll-like appearance, soft arms and light jumps were ideal for parts of the romantic repertoire. After completing her studies, Fracci entered La Scala company. Just a year later, the dancer woke up famous - the ballerina danced The Vision of the Rose and Suite for the audience who came to the premiere of the opera La Sonnambula, as part of additional program. The next day, newspapers wrote admiringly not only about the singing of Maria Callas, but also about the dance of Carla Fracci. 

The young dancer became the etoile of La Scala when she was only 22.

She danced in Swan Lake, The Sleeping Beauty, Romeo and Juliet, Cinderella, Coppelia and other classical productions. The ballerina has performed in Stuttgart, London, Stockholm. 

If in the 19th century the virtuoso Milanese dancers were considered the best in the world, in the 20th century the Italian ballet gave up its position, but the growing world fame of Carla Fracci returned Italy the status of a ballet power.

A landmark event in the ballerina’s life was her acquaintance with the dancer and choreographer Erik Bruhn, who invited Fracci to become his partner in Giselle of the American Ballet Theater. The production was videotaped in 1969 and in 1970 the couple starred in the film version of the ballet Giselle, after which the ballerina became an absolute world star.

Carla Fracci danced Juliet in John Cranko's and Rudolf Nureyev's ballets, Medea and Desdemona in John Butler's productions, Nina Zarechnaya in The Seagull - this ballet was staged especially for the star prima ballerina. Sylphide by Carla Fracci remains exemplary to this day - some ballet experts believe her performance to be the best in the history of ballet. 

Fracci is the only ballerina in the world who danced Hamlet in the ballet of the same name. The production was created for her by her husband, director Beppe Menegatti.

The scale of her talent and popularity allowed Fracci to dance only with the best. Her partners, along with Bruhn, were Rudolf Nureyev, Mikhail Baryshnikov, Henning Kronshtam, Vladimir Vasiliev. Once, Nureyev invited the ballerina to dance The Nutcracker with him. She had only five days before the performance to learn all the steps, but she did it.

In 1980, Carla Fracci played the Russian dancer Tamara Karsavina in the film Nijinsky, and in the following years she starred as an actress in The Lady of the Camellias and The Life of Verdi. 

After completing her stage career in 1988, the 52-year-old dancer had many new roads to choose from. Signora Fracci directed ballet companies in Naples and Verona, as well as the ballet troupe of the Rome Opera, whose productions of Nijinsky's ballets were brought to Moscow in 2003.

The ballerina is also known to the world as a talented perfumer. She always had an exquisite taste for fragrances - she chose perfume with special care, and her colleagues could always tell that she was in the theater by the light trace of her perfume. In 2003, the prima ballerina established a perfume brand called Carla Fracci, their fragrances are named after her best ballet parts. Carla Fracci was selecting all the notes herself. Today, the Carla Fracci perfumes are popular in dozens of countries around the world. 

In 2013, the ballerina published her autobiography, Step After Step: My Story.

In January 2021, 84-year-old Carla Fracci gave her last master class - that rehearsal was filmed. Together with the ballet dancers, the romantic and feminine prima ballerina in a white trouser suit is dancing to her favorite music for the last time. In this video, she is beautiful and full of life, but already in May, just 3 months before her 85th birthday, the great ballerina’s life ended because of cancer.