Virna Toppi


VIRNA TOPPI - One of the youngest Soloist at La Scala Ballet, she already has experience of leading roles. After her debut in the title role of Raymonda at 19, she has danced Manon, Kitri, Giselle and Odette/Odile among others. Now that she is ready for a new challenge on stage, she explains to ALESSANDRO BIZZOTTO why dancing makes her so happy. And what she wishes for her future.

She smiles as we take our seats in the golden-walled studio of La Scala Theatre. Virna Toppi, one of the youngest members of the company and already a Soloist, often smiles but seldom laughs out loud. She is friendly but polite. Her enthusiasm is genuine and devoid of ebullience.
She got promoted to the rank of Soloist exactly three years ago, when she was still 21. Moreover, no doubt, she is the ballerina with the brightest star potential among the new generation of La Scala dancers.
Her rehearsal day has just finished. After her debut in Glen Tetley “Rite of Spring”, she has new challenges on her plate now – two Principal roles in a new mixed bill. The leading role in a new “Shéhérazade” that choreographer Eugenio Scigliano has created for La Scala Ballet and the third movement in Balanchine’s “Symphony in C”. Both for the opening night as well, on April 19.

Virna Toppi in “Don Quixote” © Brescia-Amisano, Teatro alla Scala

Where did you start studying ballet?

In a private school, in the city where I grew up, close to Milan. I was 8. Then, after two years, I joined La Scala Ballet School, where I studied until my diploma, at 18. Immediately after finishing the ballet school, I left and went to Dresden, to join the Semperoper Ballett.

So you had your first professional work experience there in Dresden?

Yes, I had. I danced with the Semperoper Ballett for a season, more or less. I did some small soloist roles in Balanchine’s “Diamonds” and in “Swan Lake”. It was wonderful to be paid to do what I loved to do… you know, I would have danced even for free! It took some time to realize dancing was actually a job! Then Makhar Vaziev, who was directing La Scala Ballet, asked me to get back to Milan to join the company here. Therefore, I came back at the end of the season and immediately went to Brazil, on tour with the company, where I had my debut as Myrtha in “Giselle”.

Your first Principal role?

Raymonda in Vikharev’s reconstruction, when I was still 19.

Virna Toppi as Kitri in “Don Quixote” © Brescia-Amisano, Teatro alla Scala

Not the easiest debut, right?

Not at all. A long ballet, so many variations! I still remember starting to learn the role, its main structure, then the details… You know, I had asked my mother to record a video of the ballet, which had been broadcast on television, and to send it to me in Dresden. I had watched it on my pc. When I started working on the role here in Milan, I was both happy and a little scared… I learned the mimic, the steps and the style, which is the hardest thing as far as Raymonda is concerned. It is such a particular style, and it was not that easy to learn it nor to remember all...

Virna Toppi in the title role of “Raymonda” © Brescia-Amisano

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