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Carla Fracci

Ed Waffle

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Carla Fracci was described in a brief article in "Dance" magazine several years ago as "the romantic icon of the 1960s", which is quite a title to bestow on anyone. It was in an account of a movie about Maria Callas, one that was never made, in which Ms. Fracci was instrumental in some way.

I was looking through some older issues of "Opera", the British magazine, and found a review of "Aida" at the Arena di Verona in a Franco Zeffirelli production from last summer.

"Aida" has been done 423 times at Verona since 1913 and Zefferelli excels in the epic arena style, even when indoors. Looking for something besides monumentality, plenty of supers and lots of animals, Zeffirelli, according to the article, "assigned to the ageless Carla Fracci the invented character of Akmen, a spiritual creatue, medium of heavenly energy, who accomanies the path of the characters' passions." (It probably made more sense in Italian).

The term 'ageless' doesn't seem to be used that much on this side of the Atlantic--but it always seems to refer to women, since men don't have to worry about aging. :)

Carla Fracci embodies it as much as anyone, as does Sophia Loren. In France it is often attached to the names of film actresses--Catherine Deneuve, Jean Moreau or Fanny Ardant, for example. In the UK one (at least this one) thinks of Margot Fonteyn--plus Diana Rigg, Helen Mirren and Glenda Jackson.

There are a few obvious characteristics to this--each of the women are beautiful--some excrutiatingly so. All are so talented as to be the standard by which others are compared. And all of them may have been the sine qua non of their art form at a time when the critic who bestows the ageless epithet upon them was just falling in love with ballet, movies or the stage.

Whatever the reason, and even if it is yet another indication of how the world is defined by males and their views, I am happy there are still some very ageless ladies like Carla Fracci still inspiring people like Zeffirelli.

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