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Bournonville’s Napoli, Act II, Streaming Sunday 7/19/20, for a Day/Week(??)

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The Ballet says streaming for 24 hours only, but it’s posted on the Symphony’s youtube site, and the Symphony kept Act I posted for an entire week. So watch on Sunday, or take your chances later in the week…

The RDB Blue Grotto set is multi-layered, and looks rather nice even on the video. And be sure not to blink during the magic costume change when Teresina renounces her naiadship (toward the end)!

Lead Cast:

Golfo, a demon of the sea       Brian Leonard

Coralla, a naiad                         Kenna Draxton

Argentina, a naiad                     Jessica Phillips

Teresina, Gennaro’s beloved  Arianni Martin

Gennaro, a fisherman             Alejandro Mendez

(Additional naiads and tritons available upon request…)

If the back-of-the-hall view is a bit far away, you might enjoy these promotional clips:

With close-ups from the 2014 production:


A lengthier studio promo with Mr. Andersen demonstrating character moves:

Here is Mr. Macaulay’s review:


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Here’s a bit of historical perspective on Bournonville’s setting of the blue grotto:

The Blue Grotto (Italian: Grotta Azzurra) is a sea cave on the coast of the island of Capri, southern Italy. Sunlight passing through an underwater cavity and shining through the seawater creates a blue reflection that illuminates the cavern. The cave extends some 50 metres into the cliff at the surface, and is about 150 metres (490 ft) deep, with a sandy bottom. (Wikipedia)

Here are a few notes on why Bournonville may have chosen the Blue Grotto as a mise-en-scène:

  • Bournonville attended a ballet, Il Duca di Ravenna, in which a shipwrecked young Duke is exposed to the temptations of the naiads of the Blue Grotto.

  • Bournonville, himself, also visited the Blue Grotto.

  • Known to the ancient Romans, and statues from that time have been found in the grotto.

  • For centuries, the grotto was avoided because it was said to be inhabited by witches and monsters.

  • ‘Rediscovered’ in 1826

  • The grotto became a favored tourist destination in the 1830’s.

  • It owed its popularity in part to an autobiographical novel published by Hans Christian Andersen , The  Improvisatore, published in 1835.

  • Bournonville was a contemporary and friend of Andersen.

The Blue Grotto today:

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And, an important point that we’ve skipped over: Why was Dane August Bournonville setting a ballet in sunny Naples (of all places) in 1842??

During a performance at the Royal Theatre in Copenhagen in 1841, a ruckus erupted. Bournonville, who was dancing that evening, stopped to address the king’s box to ask if the program should continue…

The king nodded and the performance proceeded. Nevertheless, Bournonville had committed a serious breach of etiquette by addressing the king in public, and was obliged to take a six-month leave-of-absence.

Jennifer Homans (Apollo’s Angels) says: “During this time, it was a nine-week stay in Naples that had an overwhelming impact on his creativity. In Naples, Bournonville found everything that Denmark seemed to lack: warmth and a warm-hearted people, spontaneity, sensuality, and a life lived on the streets with unrestrained exuberance and physicality.”

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