Vienna ballet chief 'heading to Milan's La Scala'

Former French star dancer Manuel Legris has been credited with putting ballet back on the map in the Austrian capital (AFP Photo/FRANCOIS GUILLOT)

Rome (AFP) - The director of the Vienna Ballet, Manuel Legris, is to be appointed to the world-famous La Scala in Milan "in the coming months," a source close to the Italian opera house told AFP on Friday.

Frenchman Legris, a former "etoile" dancer in Paris, has been credited with putting ballet back on the map in the Austrian capital since taking over there in 2010.

But the head of the prestigious Vienna State Opera, compatriot Dominique Meyer who is moving to La Scala next month, has decided to take Legris with him, the source said.

While La Scala officially denied that any formal decision had been taken, the source said that "there are no particular obstacles and it is likely that the appointment will be announced in the coming months".

Meyer will formally take up the reins at La Scala on March 1, "and after that there is an administrative procedure that must be followed."

Nevertheless, specialist media suggest Legris will officially take over as the house's ballet director in December.

Legris, 55, retired as a dancer in 2009 following a 29-year career at the Paris Opera Ballet.

He arrived in Vienna a year later, where he is credited with raising the profile of the ballet, which had long played second fiddle to the opera, and turning it into one of the top companies in the world.

The current ballet chief in Milan is another Frenchman, Frederic Olivieri.