Nights at the Opera. Photo & text: David Secombe. (5/5)

Viviana Durante taking her curtain call. Photo © David Secombe 1994.

To a Dancer by Arthur Symons:

Her eyes across the footlights gleam,
(The wine of love, the wine of dream)
Her eyes that gleam for me!

The eyes of all that see
Draw to her glances stealing fire
From her desire that leaps to my desire
Her eyes that gleam for me!

(There are two more verses of this awful poem, but I think we’ve heard enough.)

Viviana Durante is seen here taking a final bow at the end of Kenneth MacMillan’s acclaimed staging of Prokofiev’s Romeo and Juliet. This was the last concert of the season, a hot June night, and dance fans in the gods indulged in the agreeably cheesey custom of throwing flowers on to the stage as the principals took their calls. Ms Durante appears to be looking into the lens in this picture – this is likely, as the next frame shows her getting a fit of giggles as she looks at someone standing on my right. So you get it both ways: a poised ballerina straight from Symons’ coy imaginings, who sends up the entire form with a lethally witty gesture. Only someone seriously good can get away with that.

The London Column takes its own break for a week or so; material will be amassing in the mean time, so join us again later in the month.

David Secombe