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RDB in Washington -- Napoli


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#1 Alexandra

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Posted 14 January 2004 - 10:12 AM

Did anyone go last night?

Half-price tickets are on sale at ticketplace -- Ari has been posting this in the News forum. Good seats for $41, which is a real bargain.

If you've never seen "Napoli" I'd recommend it; there are very few ballets like this around anymore. It's a hard sell iin D.C.; few people have heard of the ballet, and Bournonville, despite "good press" from every local critic for the past 30 years, is not an audience draw. But like it or not, it's still something to see.

I'll be very curious to read reports :flowers:

#2 MYBkid

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Posted 14 January 2004 - 04:21 PM

I went last night and liked it. I always had seen the excerpts from Act III, and I have done variations from it so I thought it was about time to see the whole ballet. The majority of the first and second acts are acting, reminded me of an opera. I just thought it was a cheerful cast. I could look past the jumps not being as high or superb, because I found all of the dancers charming. Also it was differnt to not have a story ballet filled with pas de deux. I don't see this ballet around alot so I am glad I got a chance to see it. I love the variations in Act III and it was a fun thing to see. I would have to say I expected a little more out of the males but I still enjoyed all the dancers. :wink:

#3 novamom

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Posted 14 January 2004 - 06:19 PM

My daughter and I had the opportunity to see last night's performance. I usually prefer to see more actual dancing, however, I also found the dancers to be charming. It is a lovely story and the 2-1/2 hours went by very quickly. We have never seen this ballet, nor have we seen the Royal Danish Ballet Co., I would definitely try to see them again. This style is quite a bit different than what we have seen before. I'm sure the fact that this ballet was first staged in the 1800's has a lot to do with that!

#4 Victoria Leigh

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Posted 14 January 2004 - 08:05 PM

Saw it tonight and loved it! Charming, happy, wonderful music, GREAT sets, and some very fine dancing, especially by the men and one of the soloists, Silja Schandorff (who is a principal dancer, but was doing a soloist role tonight). She is doing the Sylph on Saturday night in La Sylphide and I so wish I was going to be in town to see it. :wink:

#5 Alexandra

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Posted 14 January 2004 - 10:53 PM

The pas de six in Napoli was always danced by the stars. One of the glories (and surprises) of the RDB was that the four women would be the company's Sylph, say, and Swanilda, and Giselle, and Aurora. Sometimes a senior corps dancer who was known as a stylist, or particularly suited to one of the solos, would dance, but it was meant for the stars. In the past 15 years or so very young dancers -- not stars -- have been cast in it, and I think it suffers. No matter how "correctly" they dance, it's more interesting when you have someone with more experience who can "play" with the steps -- the way Schandorff did tonight.

#6 Natalia

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Posted 15 January 2004 - 09:08 AM

I was there last night (Wednesday), too, and thoroughly enjoyed the performance, as well as the preceding Master Class taught by principal Thomas Lund.

I have to agree with practically everything written by others, above. Although the presentation was not nearly a magnificent as what I recall from the mid-1980s shows here (also at the Kenn Cen), the latest version is fine enough, particularly Acts I and III. I adored the character performances, especially Flemming Ryberg as the wide-eyed Beppo -- the town gossip. [He is to the RDB what Vladimir Ponomaryev is to the Kirov, IMO!] Other favorites included tall & dark-haired Kristoffer Sakurai in Act I Ballabile group and leading the Act III Tarantella; the expressiveness and below-the-waist dancing of the leading ballerina, Caroline Cavallo, as Teresina; Kirsten Simone's character acting as Teresina's mom, Veronica; Thomas Lund's generous & light solo in Act III (triple 'wow' there!); Diana Cuni's 'kissing solo' in Act III; and the silken manner in which tall & gorgeous Silja Schandorff performed her brisk Act III solo.

On the other hand, there were problems a-plenty with this relatively-new (two-yr) production of Napoli:

ACT II - a pox on the Goon Platoon that took it upon themselves to wipe away 95% of August Bournonville's choreography for this act & replace it with some Balanchine-goes-amateurish choreography. Even the tutus of the Nereids, which used to be very 19th-century in style, have been replaced with late-20th-C chemises a-la Ballo Della Regina. And whose bright idea was it to make the Sea Monster Golfo the most handsome hunk in humanity? (Peter Bo Bendixen, last night.) In the past, Golfo wore a grotesque mask (or make-up); last night, were I Teresina, I would have dumped Gennaro for Golfo!! I don't think that Bournonville planned such a reaction.

The Act III Pas de Six - with the exception of the great solos noted above, this was a shadow of the softness & gentility fo the 1980s (& prior) version. Having attended Lund's Bournonville-Style Master Class earlier in the day, I knew that one of the tricks to performing this style correctly is to hold the arms down by the side in a certain manner, not moving them while leaping...there was lots of movement & effort among the Pas de Six dancers last night.

The six girls in the Act I Ballabile were all over the place, too; for example, the segment during which the six girls are next to each other in a straight line (holding each others' waists) was synchronized but contained a lot of bopping up & down. The 1980s corps, I recall very well, was smooth as butter. Besides, in the 1980s, six girls of equal height were selected for this piece; the 2004 girls are of disparate heights.

It was a joy to see this 19th-C treasure in its entirely, so I'll stop my complaints. Any bad feeling was dissipated when I watched the merriment of the final march (gallop) around the stage by all cast members. Most audience members, myself included, left the auditorium with smiles.

- Jeannie Szoradi-Nabatov
Washington, DC

#7 nysusan

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Posted 15 January 2004 - 10:55 AM

Silja Schandorff (who is a principal dancer, but was doing a soloist role tonight). She is doing the Sylph on Saturday night in La Sylphide and I so wish I was going to be in town to see it.  :)

Any idea who is dancing the Sylph at the Sat & Sunday matinees? I have tickets for Saturday night and Sunday matinee. I might have to add the Sat matinee if reduced price tickets are available & if I will get to see 3 different casts...

#8 Alexandra

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Posted 15 January 2004 - 11:22 AM

As of now, Sunday matinee will be Gudrun Bojesen and Mads Blankstrup. Bojesen is replacing Rose Gad, who didn't make the trip.

Saturday matinee is Gudrun Bojesen and Thomas Lund (with Lis Jeppesen as Madge).

There will be a different Effy (Amy Watson), Gurn (Morten Eggert) and Madge (ette Buchwald).

#9 nysusan

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Posted 15 January 2004 - 11:39 AM

Alexandra, thanks so much for the casting info. I would LOVE to see Lis Jeppesen as Madge, but I think 3 performances of La Sylphide over 2 days may be pushing it for my husband. He's a fan, but a bit less obsessive than me...one performance would be more his style. I'll have to see how it goes!

#10 Helene

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Posted 15 January 2004 - 12:14 PM

Alexandra, thanks so much for the casting info. I would LOVE to see Lis Jeppesen as Madge, but I think 3 performances of La Sylphide over 2 days may be pushing it for my husband. He's a fan, but a bit less obsessive than me...one performance would be more his style. I'll have to see how it goes!

I saw Lis Jeppesen's Madge in Copenhagen, and I think her performance is worth leaving him at home for :)

#11 nysusan

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Posted 15 January 2004 - 12:57 PM

I saw Lis Jeppesen's Madge in Copenhagen, and I think her performance is worth leaving him at home for :)

Ouch I hope he doesn't read this thread! :mondieu:

Hockeyfan, it's kind of funny cause his screen name is very similar to yours - are you guys ganging up to try to trick me into chasing a fantasy over my nice, happy bourgeois existance?

But seriously, everyone I know thinks I'm insane for going to see 4 performances in a row of the same ballet, which I often do. I think most of the posters here share my enthusiasm, but I realize that most of the ballet going world is more in tune with my husband's point of view. And he's such good company that I will have to make do with just 2 performances of La Sylphide if he prefers to spend Saturday afternoon at the Smithsonian.

Hopefully the RDB will come to NY soon and then I will go to as many performances as I can! :jump:

#12 Alexandra

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Posted 15 January 2004 - 01:11 PM

Susan, you said you might go if they were different casts -- they are different. Only the Sylph is the same and it's not a ballerina ballet. So by not seeing the Saturday matinee, you're missing the first cast -- Thomas Lund's James, Lis Jeppesen's Madge. It would be different ehough to sit through, or you could send Husband off to the museums :)

#13 Alexandra

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Posted 15 January 2004 - 01:12 PM

Back to Napoli, here are links to two reviews, copied over from Ari's Links forum:

Reviews of the Royal Danish Ballet at the Kennedy Center:

"That wasn't a ballet — that was a folk dance," a man grumbled to his companion Tuesday night as they left the Kennedy Center Opera House, where the Royal Danish Ballet was taking bows for its jubilant full-length production of "Napoli." But if folk dance is antithetical to ballet in this unhappy patron's calculus, that's not how the ballet masters of old saw it. Many of the existing 19th-century story ballets include hearty measures of folk dancing, including "Swan Lake," "The Nutcracker" and "Don Quixote."




What is different about "Napoli," Danish choreographer August Bournonville's tale of lovers and water nymphs, is that the folk doing the dancing are the same ones doing the fabulous virtuosic turns, who are also the same ones milling around the Naples marketplace toting buckets and sampling sausages. Unlike in other ballets, here the native dance is not a separate interlude performed by a contingent in boots.





Since much of the action is in mime, a contemporary audience can grow impatient. Yet Bournonville's credo was "dance and mime united," and here the current dancers remain in the great acting tradition of the Royal Danish Ballet.


The dancing, by contrast, is not at full strength when compared with the level seen 10 years ago. It is not only technique that has to be executed differently than in other repertories: niceties of style must be maintained. There were no faux pas, but the power of projection in the dancing, as opposed to the acting, was often missing in this first of several casts.



#14 nysusan

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Posted 15 January 2004 - 01:33 PM

Alexandra, I know! The Lund/Jeppeson/Bojesen cast is the one I originally wanted to see. I did say I might go if there were different casts, and I may. I would LOVE nothing more than to go to all three performances (and squeeze in your Bournonville seminar between Saturday's matinee & evening performances). I plan on trying to talk my husband into it but I'm going to let him make the call. I think that's going to be a little too much ballet for him so I will probably opt to do something of his choosing on Saturday afternoon. :)

#15 Ari

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Posted 15 January 2004 - 08:31 PM

I saw tonight's (Thursday's) performance and, sad to say, found it a pale replica of the ballet I once loved. The performances were mainly to blame: neither the dancing nor the mime was as robust as I remember it. Tina Hojlund was a gentle and charming Teresina, but her dancing wasn't as incisive as others I can recall. Thomas Lund was acceptable in both his dancing and acting, but unexciting. The first act ballabile passed off well enough, but the third act was an unhappy experience. What used to be an explosion of joy looked like a lesson dutifully but unenthusiastically learned, and some of the dancing was below what we should expect of a world class company. The men were especially disappointing. I was puzzled, too, by the reduced number of soloists in the third act — the same dancers did the pas de six and the tarantella, with a couple of extra boys for the latter. Perhaps this was just an economy of touring; I hope so.
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I don't recall the details of the earlier production well enough to do a point-by-point comparison, but one obvious difference here was the second act. This has always been the ballet's weak spot &mdash; famously, balletomanes in Copenhagen used to while away the time in a local bar. I don't know what Bournonville actually choreographed, but he was in the difficult position of having to make the Blue Grotto look unpleasant without alienating or boring the audience. Apparently he didn't succeed. Modern restagers are in an even more difficult position, because audiences have been trained by Petipa into seeing a supernatural atmosphere with a corps of girls and thinking, now comes the good part! But the eroticism Petipa brought to these scenes is alien to Bournonville's esthetic. Whoever choreographed this scene attempted a Petipa-style dream/vision/whatever scene (although the actual choreography, as Jeannie noted, is more Balanchine in style). But instead of being the artistic and emotional high point of the ballet, it has to be rejected in favor of the third act celebration. This would make it fall flat even if the choreography had been better. But it doesn't even work as mime: there's something unsatisfying about Golfo not being vanquished. He just kind of takes the attitude that, well, he lost out on Teresina but what the heck, he's got lots of others. But maybe that's a modern reaction, too, borne of too many Swan Lakes. Trouble is, we live in a post-Swan Lake world and can't go back.

Time to go back to my tape of the 1980s production. :shrug:


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