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The new Napoli


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#16 Alexandra

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Posted 14 November 2009 - 02:54 PM

OT: Quiggin, unfortunately, I don't think many philosophers take ballet seriously. :thumbsup: But yes, the "leap of faith" was really a grand jete en avance!! There's another section that says, "The knights of infinity are ballet dancers" and describes how the dancer will move from position to position, and then suddenly he will leap; that was the source of his metaphor.

Kierkegaard went to the theater a lot, and mentioned Bournonville several times in his writing. He said that one leap of Bournonville's (as a dancer, as Mephistopheles in his "Faust") made him understand the demonic, namely, it is the sudden. That's a paraphrase from memory, and from his diaries. I never could find any reference to "La Sylphide," which is very odd, as it would seem so relevant to Kierkegaard's own life.

I don't know if the Agnes and the Merman story influenced Bournonville, nor the dates of the other writings, and don't have time to check it tonight. "Napoli" is 1842, and was written in 1841. He was directly inspired by his trip to Naples and the blue Grotto, but that doesn't mean that other stories may have been worked in.

On the second act choreography, I've read and was told tthat Bournonville's act was not badly chhoreographed, just a lot of dancing for the audience of that time, especially the men, who weren't as enamored by a stage full of women as were their French contemporaries. The act got chopped, down to the mime, a pas de deux and the transformation scenes by Lander; afterwards, others have tried to choreograph something "after Bournonville." I can't comment on the present production, of course, as I haven't seen it. I hope someone else will.

#17 Mel Johnson

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Posted 14 November 2009 - 05:01 PM

We should be on the lookout for Gresham's Law of Ballet here: Merely acceptable ideas tend to drive out great ideas. The plethora of Swan Lakes serve as examples.

#18 leonid17

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Posted 15 November 2009 - 08:08 AM

Here are two Danish newspaper reviews of "Napoli."

http://www.berlingsk...fellini-univers

http://kpn.dk/teater...icle1882060.ece

#19 Quiggin

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Posted 15 November 2009 - 07:57 PM

I was going to say that following good archeological practices, the sutures between the old and new parts of Act II should be left evident, but it seems as if there have been so many changes that that would not be practical. From the Bournonville.com site, by Erik Aschengreen:

[Act II] was reduced to a minimum and today none of Bournonville's dances are preserved. Hans Brenaa and subsequently Kirsten Ralov, responsible for the production from 1951 to 1990, kept, by and large, Lander's version of the ballet, but expanded Act II with new choreography. Thus it was that in 1963 the pas de deux between Teresina and Golfo returned. There have been minor changes in Acts I and III during the last 50 years, but dramatically and choreographically Act II is still a challenge, also because it is the mainstay of the whole idea behind the ballet.

For the 1992-production of Napoli - 150 years after the first performance - Dinna Bjørn choreographed a new Act II, and for the whole production she was responsible together with Henning Kronstam and Frank Andersen.

Away from the Royal Theatre, two choreographers have made their versions: Elsa Marianne von Rosen and Allan Fridericia have staged Napoli many times. First in 1971 in Gothenburg in Sweden, later, among other places, at the Kirov Theatre in St. Petersbourg where they attempted to restore the lyricism of the choreography. Peter Schaufuss, in his production for the National Ballet in Toronto in 1981, staged Act II as Gennaros dream and emphasised the dramatic and perilous.


At least there seem to be stretches of Napoli intact, unlike the Swan Lakes that Mel mentioned, which are have any only a shaky outline left -- "acceptable ideas", and would seem to be exercises in some weird sort of historical amnesia. (The forgetting of Petipa, Ivanov, Ashton, & Balanchine.)

Leonid, are there any translations of the reviews you posted?

Alexandra, so a grand jete en avance or two was all that would have made the existentialists of thirty years ago happy?!! Interesting that Hans Christian Andersen wanted to be a ballet dancer at his friend Bournonville's company before he found his vocation as a writer.

#20 Alexandra

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Posted 15 November 2009 - 08:47 PM

Quiggin, there are huge stretches intact -- the whole first act. All of those crowd scenes are choreographed, on the music. (Kronstam led the rehearsals for the 1992 production Acts 1 and 3, according to dancers in that production. He tightened the first act, restored some details, made it musical -- it was quite fine. Bjorn choreographed new dances in Act II, replacing the suite by Kirsten Ralov. It was very.....watery.)

Don't know what you mean by "existentialists 30 years ago." I meant the grand jete en avance was what gave the idea and the image to Kierkegaard of "the leap of faith."

#21 Quiggin

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Posted 15 November 2009 - 11:02 PM

Alexandra, I'm sorry for being obscure, which I can frequently be -- it's just when I going to college in film school there was still a lot of interest in Existentialism and making a leap of faith about something, anything. The concept of thinking outside the box is maybe the closest we have to it now. To be able to link it to the leap of a ballet dancer at this late date is a nice image for me. I tend to like everything in life somewhere to have nice "points of attachment" to everything else I'm curious about.

I guess I was interested in Napoli thread because it got me to link Kierkegaard, Bournonville and Hans Christrian Andersen more closely together, even leading me to read Andersen's description to Bournonville of K's funeral with the ladies in red hats and blue hats and the argument about the handful of earth tossed on his casket.

Also because of Hubbe's integrity as a dancer -- who everyone admired so much -- that I sort of wanted a case to be made for the integrity of his new production of Napoli.

#22 leonid17

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Posted 16 November 2009 - 01:17 AM

Leonid, are there any translations of the reviews you posted?


I am sorry Quiggin I did not realise that it would revert to Danish when I posted. I have Google translate on my toolbar which does the trick.

#23 Alexandra

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Posted 16 November 2009 - 05:58 AM

Quiggin, this production may very well have its own integrity. :dunno:

#24 leonid17

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Posted 17 November 2009 - 03:19 PM

"-- that I sort of wanted a case to be made for the integrity of his new production of Napoli."


I do not think it is possible to talk about the integrity of any ballet production that takes a significant artwork like “Napoli” and tramples on its status as a (mostly) genuine historic ballet by a recognised great choreographer.

My feelings about Bournonville’s “Napoli” is that it exists with an integrity in the sense of wholeness

To disturb such wholeness, is to impose inconsistencies that are both a denial of a masterwork and ultimately the congruence of the Romantic ballet as a genuine historic genre worth protecting.

I have as perhaps you have, seen many failed productions of “Giselle”, “Swan Lake”,” Sleeping Beauty” etc. There have been some variable productions of “Napoli” over the years, but surely from the descriptions we have read, none possessed such a blatant vulgarity in turning its back to Bournonville’s genius.

#25 Jane Simpson

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Posted 26 November 2009 - 11:17 AM

Well, I've now seen two performances of the new Napoli and also talked to Nikolaj Hubbe about it. I have to write two formal reviews of it so these are just some overall impressions.

The three acts have been treated so differently that it's a bit like watching a triple bill: Italian versimo with some set pieces of dancing - contemporary ballet with new music - Act 3 of Napoli. It's an experiment, I think, done to find out if there are new things to be found in an old ballet and for myself I'd rather see a wholesale revision like this than the sort of creeping changes we see elsewhere: if we were talking about an English 'icon', I'd rather see La Fille mal Gardee in modern dress with the story slightly changed but most of Ashton's choreography retained than see the originalproduction with little bits snipped out and some pseudo-Ashton solos inserted. The first one you can just throw away when it outlives its novelty, the second is far more difficult to disentangle. That said, I'm sure there are lots of people who will detest this Napoli - I really disliked the first act the first time I saw it, but then quite enjoyed it the second time round when the shock had worn off.

The second act is completely new. It's very attractively set and lit, and I liked the new music. Hubbe and Sorella Englund have provided new choreography which concerns itself more with the relationship of the characters than with providing the equivalent of a 'white'act. The third act, after the first 5 minutes, is pure Bournonville, with the addition of a short pas de deux for Teresina and Gennaro, which looks like stitched-together bits of the Bournonville schools - I have to say I just loved Gennaro's new solo.

For me the first act is overdone - every possible Neapolitan character seems to be there and there are a couple of touches I'd be happier to see cut.

Eva Kistrup has covered most of the ground about the removal of the reliance on religion etc and I agree with much of what she said.

There were interesting contrasts between the two casts - some excellent performances, some weaker - the pas de six was noticeably more strongly cast on the second night. There were lots of cheers at the end but how many were for the Tarantella etc and how many for the rest of the piece, I don't know!

#26 Estelle

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Posted 26 November 2009 - 11:41 AM

Thanks for your review, Jane !

Is this new production meant to replace the traditional one, or will both coexist in the repertory ?

#27 Jane Simpson

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Posted 26 November 2009 - 12:48 PM

As I understand it, for the time being this will be the Napoli you'll see if you go to Copenhagen. Though actually I've thought it would be interesting to run them both sometime, maybe alternate nights - if only to see which brought in the bigger audience!

#28 Alexandra

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Posted 26 November 2009 - 01:41 PM

Thank you for that review, Jane. I like your "triple bill" analogy especially (and look forward to reading your review and the interview.)

#29 Alexandra

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Posted 30 November 2009 - 08:24 AM

Jane Simpson's review of "Napoli" is ow up on ballet.co.uk's magazine:

Napoli


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