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Royal Danish Ballet


by Kate Snedeker

May 13, 2005 -- Royal Theatre, Copenhagen

There are few balletic experiences more wonderful than that of the Royal Danish Ballet's production of "Napoli" with Thomas Lund as Gennaro.  The story of Gennaro, a poor but pure-hearted fisherman, and his beloved, Teresina, “Napoli” is a feast of technique and mime, displaying the Royal Danish Ballet at its finest.

The curtain rises to reveal the bustling Santa Lucia wharf in Napoli, a scene that is bursting with color and energy.  It’s not just this vivid appearance that is so breathtaking, but also the naturalness with which every dancer, character dancer, student and extra brings their particular character to life.  One almost forgets that this charming seaside scene ends at the backdrop.  And it’s out of this vivid Naples that Gennaro soars out on to the stage.

On Friday evening, Lund was paired with Tina Højlund as Teresina, an onstage partnership that has flourished in recent years.  Lund is dancer of the finest Bournonville mold, suited like few others to the role of Gennaro.  His performance was a masterful display of technique, both in dancing and mime.  The third act solo was powerful, yet Lund retained the elegant control that defines the Bournonville style; the legs may be beating quickly or stretched in a soaring jete, but the arms are relaxed and quiet.

On this evening in particular, I was struck by the depth Lund brought to the character of Gennaro.  He has obviously taken a great deal of time to develop his Gennaro, a character that is both believable and human.  Though he has had many years to refine his interpretation, it seems that Lund has a special gift for characterization.

The second act brought with it a great example this special gift.   Gennaro is on the verge of abandoning his search for Teresina in Golfo's grotto, after meeting the nymphs, when he senses something. Turning around, he sees Teresina who has been transformed into one of the Golfo’s sea-nymphs.  Lund doesn’t just swivel around; he turns slowly, allowing the audience to see the development of Gennaro’s emotions…from sensing something behind him, to a certain sense of dread and hope, to a mixture of relief at seeing Teresina, and surprise and horror at her appearance.  It’s as if one is seeing Gennaro's thoughts playing out in Lund's face and body.

The grotto act, reconstructed by Dinna Bjørn for the current production, is not as captivating as the other two acts, but the set is one of the more stunning creations seen on the Royal Theatre stage.  Using a series of flat panels and dark, foggy lighting, the stage is transformed into a huge, soaring cave that has realistic depth and curve.   In this creepy grotto, Niels Balle was an imposing, imperious Golfo.

The third act is one of the most spectacular finales in all of ballet.  Once the reunited Gennaro and Teresina are safely back in Naples, the villagers convinced that it was the power of the church, not magic that saved Teresina, a joyous celebration ensues.   The festive dances center around a spectacular pas de six.  This was an all-star pas de six, including impressive performances from principals Mads Blangstrup and Andrew Bowman and soloists Amy Watson and Tim Matiakis.  The pas de six segues into what is described as an infectious tarantella.  On Friday, Morten Eggert and Esther Lee Wilkinson started the Tarantella in high form, and the rest of the cast kept the energy up.   A fine ending for a one of the company’s signature ballets!


Edited by Staff.

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