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I watched a rented copy of Napoli with the Royal Danish Ballet, Arne Villumsen, Linda Hindberg, with choreography by Bournonville and music by at least 4 different people, one of whom is Rossini. But what exactly is the story for this ballet? All I know is that it's set in Italy.:confused:

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Viviane, I found that site www.bournonville.com but for some reason I couldn't get past the first page! I will try again later.

Balletnut, I know absolutely nothing about Bournonville. I am guessing that we just don't "do" him in the USA? I feel as thought I've read about his ballets on this site - probably over in the General Discussion area...and I think I recall reading someones' lament that we really just didn't see much of his work here.

You're lucky to be able to "rent" a ballet video! Was it through a video store or did you get it from some wonderful library?

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I have seen that video (and appreciate it very much), but don't remember the plot well enough to summarize it without mistakes... Alexandra?

BW, I do have some problems getting past the first page of that page too; it probably is because it requires a plugin which is not installed on all systems...

Actually, "Napoli" was mentioned recently, in he "Giselle from Hell" thread, in a post by Alexandra (who is a Bournonville specialist):


There is a "Bournonville archive" which used to be on this site and now is on the site of Dance View:


It includes a long article by Alexandra "Bournonville in Hell" (published in 1998, and dealing with the way the Bournonville repertory has been performed by the Royal Danish Ballet since Bournonville's death in 1879) and some interviews of Danish dancers by Katharine Kanter.

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Ballet Nut, thank you for asking about Napoli :) And Estelle and Viviane, thank you for the links.

BW, we don't do much Bournonville here. They were a Danish specialty -- there are so many character parts, and they come from such a specific tradition that it's difficult for anyone else to do the ballets.

Ballet Nut, you can't buy that video now. Its license ran out, so I'm glad you could rent it.

The short version of Napoli: Teresina is courted by Gennaro (a fisherman). Two Unsuitable Suitors (Peppo, the Lemonade Seller, and Giacomo, purveyor of fine macaroni) vie for her hand and try to make trouble for Gennaro. The whole first act is local color and character development in the style of the times. Napoli, the city, is a character as well as the people. (Background: Bournonville was exiled from Denmark for a few months because he'd addressed the King from the stage during a small riot and that was Not Done. One of the places he traveled was to Naples, and Napoli is his "home movie" of what he saw there. Gennaro was the name of ..what do you call the guy who paddles the gondola?)

After a silly quarrel, Gennaro realizes he loves Teresina and asks her to marry him. She agrees. They go off in a little boat to discuss their future; life in Napoli bubbles on -- a street singer, a toy theater. A storm comes up; the boat comes back with an unconscious Gennaro and no Teresina. She is presumed drowned.

Teresina's mother comes out and learns the news because her two friends turn away from her; she knows something is wrong. She curses at Gennaro. When Gennaro is left alone, he is frantic and beseeches the Heavens and the sea to give him back his beloved Teresina. In despair, he decides to drown himself but is stopped by the sight of the Madonna -- suicide is a sin. The parish priest comes by and gives him a medalion (a symbol of the Catholic faith) and tells him to have faith and go look for her.

The second act is set in the Blue Grotto. Teresina (drowned? Merely unconscious?) has been taken there by Golfo, a Sea Monster, where she becomes a nymph and completely forgets her humanity. She doesn't recognize Gennaro (note that Gennaro is not at all interested in the other nymphs. He's not a Romantic hero. He wants his girl back.) They dance together and he tries to make her remember him. He shows her the medalion; it stirs a memory -- she is a Christian, not a pagan! -- and the blood begins to flow again in her veins. They hold up the medaliion and walk around the stage (the music is a Catholic hymn) and Golfo must bow to a higher power and pay them tribute.

They go home and get married.

The third act is a slice of Bournonville's life (he danced the first Gennaro in 1842!). One day when he was on the outskirts of Naples, eating lunch on the side of a hill, and watching a wedding. They started dancing a tarantella. "I was the greatest character dancer in Europe," he wrote, with typical modesty. "I knew 11 variations of the tarantella." He came down, took of his coat, tossed his hat, and stepped in, dancing with the bride -- that moment, that exact moment, is preserved in the tarantella.

The solos, which many think exemplify Bournonville's choreography, are really by Hans Beck, who took those solos from another Bournonville ballet (Abdallah) and made variations of them for this ballet.

I think this video is a good performance of an okay production, but not a great one (Villumsen is not at peak form, Hindberg is not an ideal Bournonville dancer. As a production, Golfo was once MUCH more powerful and terrifying, and the production isn't as lively or as poetic as stagings by other Bournonville stagers.) But some of the dancing is quite good, I think.

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Thanks, Jaana -- of course you're right about the gondola and gondolier -- I couldn't think this morning. I also put in "amulet" when it's really a medallion, and made both changes.

The Danes still dance it, although the last time I saw it (January 2000) it wasn't in very good shape, and I've heard nothing good since from Danish friends! So you might want to try and find that video!

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First, thanks to everyone else for the lovely explanations!:) This video is in the collection of the Santa Cruz [California] main Library, and it is hardly ever checked out, except by me of course. ;)

Secondly, I agree about the principals, particularly Hindberg. Out of curiosity, Alexandra, or whoever it was, if she's so problematic in Bournonville, what if anything is she good at?

Finally, I really loved the Act 3 divertissements, but could somebody fill me in on who the dancers were in the variations? Especially the petite woman in the pink dress--she was so light and bouncy, but sharp movements too. Also the woman from the tarantella with the yellow skirt who dances with the red sash, and the first man with the blue belt-thing. [blanking out on the proper word at the moment...]

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Secondly, I agree about the principals, particularly Hindberg. Out of curiosity, Alexandra, or whoever it was, if she's so problematic in Bournonville, what if anything is  she good at?

Hindberg was their "Russian" dancer. She and Villumsen danced Don Q at the Bolshoi. She was promoted by Flindt at a very young age after a "Swan Lake." She also was noted for performances in the modern works in the repertory. She was just a bit too modern for Bournonville -- to linear, too stretched, I think.

Finally, I really loved the Act 3 divertissements, but could somebody fill me in on who the dancers were in the variations? Especially the petite woman in the pink dress--she was so light and bouncy, but sharp movements too. Also the woman from the tarantella with the yellow skirt who dances with the red sash, and the first man with the blue belt-thing. [blanking out on the proper word at the moment...] [/b]

It's been a long time since I've seen the video, and I've seen a lot of Napolis since then, so this is my best memory. I think the women were: yellow, Mette-Ida Kirk (in the solo and in the tarantella); pink, Heidi Ryom; purple, Lis Jeppesen (the blowing kisses solo); pale blue, Beneditke Paaske (the one without a solo).

Of the men, the first solo was Alexander Kolpin (18), the second is Bjarne Hecht, and the third is Villumsen. The man in the blue sash who doesn't have a solo is Arne Bech, the company's textbook Bournonville technician (though never a star).

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BW and Ballet Nut and At and all, I've seen a video of NYCB doing "Bournonville Divertissement" -- a compilation of great bits, ending with a lot of the last act of Napoli, that Peter Martins put together and has passages I could not live without..... Don't know if it's available anywhere, but a library that's got a good collection, like Santa Cruz's, might have bought one when it was current 20-odd years ago....

A very young Darci Kistler is OUT OF THIS WORLD in the pas de deux from Rossini's William Tell -- pique turns in attitude that float down into huge ballonnes, the prettiest ronde de jambe sautes I've ever seen, character balances with flexed feet while tucking her thumbs into her shoulder straps, exquisite footwork, exquisite phrasing, art-concealing art, it all looks effortless -- dancing with Ib ANderson, who was merely fabulous.

Peter danced Flower Festival at Genzano with Merrill, who's not right for hte role but isn't bad...... Heather gives one of the most beautifully disciplined performances I've ever seen -- such light, beautiful entrechats Helgi Tomasson is in it -- it's that old -- very fine.....

Robert Greskovic doesn't mention it, which is pretty much the FIRST time ever I've run into a video he hasn't mentioned..... though he DOES mention a video of 50 Bournonville combinations, which I'd certainly like to see......

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BW, I didn't know anything about Bournonville till the Royal Danish Ballet toured the US -- in hte 80's-- I saw them in San Francisco and could not believe my eyes, this was court dancing of the finest kind, clear, modest, difficult, but carefully made to conceal its difficulties without ever looking drab or dull or..... it reminded me of the King Tut show, in that everything you saw was ravishingly beautiful but somehow modest and lovable and lovely and you just wanted to take it home and keep it....

it's the first time I saw Ib Andersen, whose ballon beat anything I HAD EVER SEEN, not even Nureyev and Dowell, not even BAryshnikov was more wonderful than he was IN HIS WAY.....

Ballet NUt, San Francisco Ballet dances Bournonville's version of La Sylohide, which he choreographed not long after Taglioni's version was done in Paris -- they're not doing it this year or next, but it should rotate back into the rep before long-- the word is that a wonderful young Danish dancer is coming to SF to be our next great ballerina, Helgi's signed her so the rumor goes, so maybe la Sylphide will re-enter the rep soon.....

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And I -with my crumbled knowledge about ballet- had only heard of Bournonville until last summer I watched a daily summerclass and was completely overwhelmed by the joyfull 'dansante' way of dancing. It was very tough but all the students loved it !

I can hardly understand why it has become so 'marginal' ?

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Wow! You all are making me want to run over to the nearest well stocked library or hit up Kultur Video or Amazon.com for their selections! Thankyou Alexandra for all the details which I will be sure to reread when I finally get hold of a copy of Napoli! And Paul and Balletnut and Viviane for your heartfelt descriptions - you've really piqued my interest in seeing a Bournonville ballet!:)

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1. Paul--I saw La Sylphide in 97 I think, with Sabina Allemann, Anthony Randazzo, Sherri Leblanc, and a very young Julie Diana in act 2. I enjoyed it thoroughly. Also, I've been in SC for about 2 years and have watched every single video in the library's collection that I don't have at home, which amounts to maybe 3 or 4. Maybe this overlap means that the librarians share my taste in ballet?

2. Alexandra--I think my problem w/ Hindberg has to do with her extensions, they are too high and it seems that they slow her down. I may have seen her do Flower Festival at Genzano on a tape, but don't remember much about it. I think I have a picture of Heidi Ryom saved on my computer; I thought she looked familiar!

3. BW--You're welcome! :)

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