Carla Fracci

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Carla Fracci
Fracci in 2011
Carolina Fracci

(1936-08-20)20 August 1936
Milan, Italy
Died27 May 2021(2021-05-27) (aged 84)
Milan, Italy
(m. 1964)

Carolina "Carla" Fracci (Italian: [ˈkarla ˈfrattʃi]; 20 August 1936 – 27 May 2021)[1] was an Italian ballet dancer, actress and ballet director. Considered one of the greatest ballerinas of the 20th century,[2] she was a leading dancer of La Scala Theatre Ballet in Milan, then worked freelance with international companies including the Royal Ballet, London, Stuttgart Ballet, Royal Swedish Ballet and American Ballet Theatre. Fracci is known for her interpretation of leading characters in several Romantic ballets, such as La Sylphide, Giselle, Swan Lake, and Romeo and Juliet. She also performed in ballets such as Nijinsky and Complete Bell Telephone Hour Performances: Erik Bruhn 1961–1967. She danced with partners including Erik Bruhn, Rudolf Nureyev and Mikhail Baryshnikov. Later, she directed several ballet companies in Italy, including at the Teatro San Carlo in Naples and the Teatro dell'Opera di Roma in Rome.

According to Bruhn, she "gave the world a new idea of the ballerina in 19th-century Romantic ballets".[3] She appeared with many of the leading companies of the world, and received multiple honours for her performances.

Early life[edit]

Born as Carolina, Fracci was born on 20 August 1936, in Milan, to a tram driver father[4] and a mother who worked at a factory. During the Second World War, she lived with relatives in the countryside.[5][6] In 1946, her mother brought her and her sister to a La Scala Theatre Ballet School entrance exam, which ended up being disastrous for Fracci. While her body type was deemed unsuitable for ballet, she was pretty enough to be the last of 35 students accepted.[7] She described the early days at the school as "a crashing bore and a terrible chore." However, after she was cast as the mandolin in The Sleeping Beauty, performing alongside Margot Fonteyn, she changed her mind about ballet training and "started working very hard to catch up for the lost time."[7] Fracci's training completed in 1955. She was one of six students chosen to participate in passo d'addio, a farewell performance of the graduates held after an opera performance.[7]


Fracci in 1957

Fracci entered La Scala Theatre Ballet after she graduated, and was promoted to soloist the following year. Her breakthrough came when she filled in for Violette Verdy in Rodrigues' Cinderella in 1958, which led to her promotion to principal dancer,[6][8] and further to her dancing the title role in Giselle with the London Festival Ballet the following year. In 1963, she left the company as she felt underpaid and underemployed. Instead, she pursued a freelance career.[7]

Fracci performed with partners including Mikhail Baryshnikov, Roberto Bolle, Erik Bruhn, Alexander Godunov, Henning Kronstam, Gheorghe Iancu, Rudolf Nureyev, Giuseppe Picone and Vladimir Vasiliev.[9][10] She appeared with leading companies of the world,[10] including the Royal Ballet in London, the Stuttgart Ballet, the Royal Swedish Ballet in Stockholm and the American Ballet Theatre.[1]

Starting in the late 1980s, she directed numerous major ballet companies in Italy: first was the ballet company of the Teatro San Carlo in Naples. From 1996 to 1997 she directed the Verona Arena ballet. From November 2000 she directed the Teatro dell'Opera di Roma ballet, where she continued until 2010. There she followed the Opera's traditional repertoire, as well as Diaghilev's works for the Ballets Russes. The repertoire at the Rome Opera's ballet ranged from Millicent Hodson's adaptation of The Rite of Spring[11] to Andris Liepa's versions of Scheherazade,[12] Petrushka and The Firebird.[13] She was instrumental in bringing ballet to the people, such as an open-air performance in Paestum, and appearing in public squares and schools.[10]

From June 2009 to 2014 she was nominated Culture Assessor for the Metropolitan City of Florence.[14]

In 1983, 2000, and 2003, Fracci was awarded three prestigious honors from the Italian Government, acknowledging her achievements.[15] On 16 October 2004, Fracci was named Goodwill Ambassador of the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), a specialized agency of the United Nations that leads international efforts to defeat hunger.[16] Fracci's autobiography Steps after Steps was published in 2013.[5] In 2014, she took part in a documentary film, 29200 Puthod, l'altra verità della realtà, directed by Federico Angi, about the life of the painter Dolores Puthod.[17]

On 20 December 2016, she presented the book Ballerina by the author Roberto Baiocchi, published by the Giunti publishing house in Florence, for which she signed the preface.[18][19]

Personal life[edit]

In 1964, Fracci married theatre director Beppe Menegatti; the couple had a son,[5][20] Francesco.[1] After she retired, they lived near Florence.[10]

Fracci died from cancer on 27 May 2021 in Milan, at the age of 84.[5]


Source: Carla Fracci at IMDb

Year Title Role Director Notes
1980 Nijinsky Tamara Karsavina Herbert Ross Feature film debut as an actress
1981 The Lady of the Camellias Marguerite Gauthier Mauro Bolognini Nastro d'Argento – Best Breakout Actress
1982 The Life of Verdi Giuseppina Strepponi Renato Castellani Miniseries; co-lead role (9 episodes)
Venezia, carnevale, un amore The Lady Mario Lanfranchi
1988 William Tell Solo dancer Riccardo Muti Filmed stage performance
2021 Carla Herself Emanuele Imbucci Television film about her life (posthumous release)


  1. ^ a b c Brug, Manuel (28 May 2021). "Zum Tod der Primaballerina Carla Fracci". DIE WELT (in German). Retrieved 28 May 2021.
  2. ^ Harss, Marina (28 May 2021). "Carla Fracci, Expressive Doyenne of Italian Ballet, Dies at 84". The New York Times. ISSN 0362-4331. Retrieved 31 May 2021.
  3. ^ Kisselgoff, Anna (9 June 1991). "Review/Dance; 'Giselle' as Interpreted by Italy's Carla Fracci . ." The New York Times.
  4. ^ "Carla Fracci: Italienische Primaballerina ist tot". DER SPIEGEL (in German). 28 May 2021. Retrieved 28 May 2021.
  5. ^ a b c d Balmer, Crispian (27 May 2021). "Italy's leading prima ballerina, Carla Fracci, dies at 84". Reuter.
  6. ^ a b Barry, Colleen (27 May 2021). "Italy's Carla Fracci, La Scala prima ballerina, dies at 84". ABC.
  7. ^ a b c d "Carla Fracci, 'Prim Ballerina Assoluta'". New York Times. 12 July 1982.
  8. ^ "Remembering Carla: ballet legend Carla Fracci dies at 84". Gramilano. 27 May 2021.
  9. ^ "Carla Fracci". The Ballerina Gallery. Retrieved 16 February 2012.
  10. ^ a b c d Weickmann, Dorion (28 May 2021). "Primaballerina des Volkes". Süddeutsche Zeitung (in German). Retrieved 28 May 2021.
  11. ^ "Diaghilev Musagete" (PDF). 2009.
  12. ^ Franzutti, Fredy. "Sheherazade, cenni storici". Balletto del Sud (in Italian). Retrieved 28 May 2021.
  13. ^ "Turandot, Principessa Chinese" (PDF). 2003.
  14. ^ "Scomparsa Carla Fracci, il cordoglio del presidente Luca Milani". Met – News dalle Pubbliche Amministrazioni della Città Metropolitana di Firenze (in Italian). Retrieved 27 May 2021.
  15. ^ "Bari, il sindaco Emiliano consegna le Chiavi della Città a Carla Fracci". Il Quotidiano Italiano (in Italian). 2 December 2011. Retrieved 27 May 2021.
  16. ^ "Meet the Goodwill Ambassadors: Carla Fracci". Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations. Archived from the original on 2 December 2011. Retrieved 16 February 2012.
  17. ^ "29200 Puthod, l'altra verità della realtà". (in Italian). Retrieved 27 May 2021.
  18. ^ "Roberto Baiocchi Biography". Retrieved 1 June 2021.
  19. ^ "[LA GAZZETTA DEL MEZZOGIORNO] Martedì, 20 dicembre 2016. (Vito Prigigallo) Carla Fracci presenta libro di Baiocchi" (in Italian). Retrieved 1 June 2021 – via
  20. ^ "Italienische Primaballerina Carla Fracci ist tot". (in German). 27 May 2021. Retrieved 28 May 2021.

External links[edit]