CriticalDance Forum

Royal Ballet - Napoli Divertissements
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Author:  PB2003 [ Wed Jan 17, 2007 4:56 am ]
Post subject:  Royal Ballet - Napoli Divertissements

I went along to see the La Sylphide bill last night but due to prior commitments I only stayed for the Napoli Divertissements.
I have to say though that I really enjoyed the performance.
I thought the costumes were lovely and were very representative of what you would expect from Napoli but more colourful than I had seen before.

The dancing I thought was very good, there were several people doing solos or the pas de six that I had not really seen doing prominent roles before and it was very refreshing to see. I read somewhere that Johan likes to give opportunities to people because that's what happened to him and I applaud him for having the savvy and confidence to do this and it paid off as far as I'm concerned with some very nice dancing.

The ensemble dances were beautiful in the Ballabile and all the solos that followed this were cleanly done and executed.
This all built up to an exciting finish with the tambourines and whole company giving it their all.

Apart from the lighting glitches which were not that intrusive it was a very well constructed set piece.

It would have been nice to have had a few bits around the stage to fill it out but it still worked without.

Congratulations to Johan and I hope to see some of these dancers doing more in the future.

Author:  ksneds [ Wed Jan 17, 2007 9:10 am ]
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Thanks for posting about this new production!

I'm very glad the audiences outside Denmark are getting to enjoy at least part of "Napoli". It's one of my favorite ballets, and never fails to leave a wide smile on my face - kind of a balletic comfort food! Aside from the Soloists & Principals of the RDB group that performed at Sadler's Wells in 2005, I think this has really been the only chance for UK audiences to experience the ballet.

And they certainly have a good coach in Johan Kobborg, and it sounds like he's been able to make it shine, which can be a challenge since the dances really only come to full life with the full ballet and sets to complete the picture. Even when the Danes did it at Sadler's Wells, it looked, at least to me, a bit less exciting without the sets & full cast.

It really is a fantastic ballet to see in Denmark (and I would encourage balletomanes to try and make the trip to Copenhagen at least once), as it seems to me that everyone in the company really treasures the ballet and gives it 100% everytime. The final scene with the kids on the bridge, the pas de sept, the endless tarantellas, the finale with the guns and the full cast onstage is truly memorable.

I'd be interested to hear if anyone else here who has seen the Danes do the ballet can comment on how well the Royal Ballet dancers were able to adapt to Bournonville. It's a style that the Danes spend their whole balletic lives learning and the foreign RDB classes must spend years in extra classes to adapt to...


Author:  kurinuku [ Fri Jan 19, 2007 4:39 pm ]
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by JUDITH MACKRELL for the Guardian
published: January 18, 2007

The Royal are currently delivering a lot of steps for the price of a ticket, with two gregariously virtuoso ballets, Rhapsody and Napoli Divertissements, alternating as companion pieces to La Sylphide. With the Sylphide-Napoli pairing, they are also delivering a lot of Bournonville.

Author:  CarolinaM [ Sat Jan 20, 2007 8:19 am ]
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Two beautiful pictures here:

Laura Morera in Napoli and Sarah Lamb in La Sylphide


Author:  Cassandra [ Mon Jan 22, 2007 9:45 am ]
Post subject:  Napoli/La Sylphide

I doubt if the performance I saw of Napoli Divertissements on Saturday would cut much ice in Copenhagen, but the RB dancers still deserved a gold star for effort. Some coped better than others, but speed and accuracy combined is a skill still to be acquired by some of the dancers.

Nunez, Galeazzi and McRae seemed to grasp the Bournonville style best but these sunny dances are so enjoyable to watch that I hope the RB perseveres with Napoli as it is such fun to watch and so rewarding to dance.

Sarah Lamb was sublime in La Sylphide, if you can't get to Denmark to see this ballet, watching Lamb is the next best thing and the company as a whole has improved out of recognition since the first attempts at Sylphide. It was a highly enjoyable afternoon.

Author:  PB2003 [ Mon Jan 22, 2007 11:32 am ]
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Yes they probably wouldnt cut it in Copenhagen but then i suppose we wouldnt go and watch the Royal Ballet dancing Bournonville in Copenhagen anyway so what we get is their version which is a fusion of styles.

It was enjoyable though and I think that the Saturday matinee was a lot better than the opening night from what I recall.

I think some of the younger previously unseen dancers though have a lot of potential though, not as a Bournonville dancer as demonstrated in this work but as a classical dancer in general. I'm not sure of names but aside from the ones you mentioned that we already know, there were some men who stood out to me also as having a very good technique and lovely phrasing and presence. Maybe you have a better idea of the casting. :D

Author:  ksneds [ Mon Jan 22, 2007 1:34 pm ]
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To give the dancers credit, it's not easy to bring real life to a series of excerpted divertissements without sets or story. The dances come from the 1st and 3rd acts in Napoli, and make more sense in the context of the narrative. Plus the dancers/character dancers/extras in the crowd urge on and cheer the dancers in the 3rd act, so there's a really jovial, warm feeling.

It's also a ballet that really joins the generations - for almost all the children at the Royal Danish Ballet School, their first experience on stage is on the bridge in the 3rd act of Napoli. From that bridge they watch the pas de sept and tarantellas, which some of the them will someday perform as company members. So by the time they even get to the company, they know Napoli like the back of their hand.

I'm still puzzled as to why Kobborg stuck in a bit of "Flower Festival from Genzano" - did he need to fill in some time? The two ballets are reasonably stylistically compatible, but it blurs the lines to cut n' paste as such.


Author:  kurinuku [ Fri Jan 26, 2007 3:13 pm ]
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My big fat Scottish wedding
by JENNY GILBERT for the Independent
published: January 21, 2007

It's all very cleanly done, the mime economical, the company work pristine, even if on Tuesday night some gremlin caused three dancers, in separate incidents, to trip and tumble. Federico Bonelli is a convincing James, relying on his tall, arrowy physique to plead his case, throwing off the twinkling entrechats with an appearance of gallant ease.

Author:  AnaM [ Mon Feb 05, 2007 8:28 am ]
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Napoli Divertissements & La Sylphide
Royal Ballet
Royal Opera House
20 January 2007

Johan Kobborg staged last season his version of “La Sylphide” for the Royal Ballet and this season, he has extended the programme with his staging of “Napoli”. Overall, these are good additions to the Royal Ballet repertoire, even though “Napoli” had been part of the company’s repertoire in the past. It is always welcome to see the dancers of the company engaging with a tradition that is not far from their own. Bournonville steps are present in Ashton’s works as well as in the Nijinska’s ballets the company stages regularly and these two ballets provide with a vocabulary of steps that the Royal Ballet dancers will certainly utilise in other works of their national heritage.

The programme opened with “Napoli” in a staging that incorporated some extra numbers from previous acts, besides the famous last act dances that culminate in the ravishing Tarantella. The dancers seemed to be enjoying the work and they succeeded in making the audience do the same, which is what “Napoli” is all about. There was wonderful dancing by some of the soloists, especially Steven McRae and Marianela Núñez. These dancers brought a sense of style and freedom in their movements that served them well in the showcase of the steps. However, all dancers seemed to be enjoying their dances and credit must be given to Kobborg for achieving this through his coaching. Though, in terms of style some of the dancers did not seem to grasp this totally, their commitment to the phrasing and character more than complemented this. The steps were well executed and, curiously enough, it was the men who seemed to perform these with more exuberance and sense of phrasing than the women.

“La Sylphide” is, nevertheless, a more cohesive work and an obvious masterpiece of the Romantic period. The company seemed in better form than last year in the performance of this ballet, though I still have my doubts about the extended passages that Kobborg has decided to include. One of the most fascinating aspects of this ballet is the wonderful sense of timing, the dramatic pace that makes it move so effortlessly. Though a couple of minutes of added music, dance and drama would seem not to affect these, the truth is that it does. Far from explaining the action, the extended musical phrases make some of the scenes drag for too long.

The title roles were danced by Sarah Lamb as the Sylph, Viacheslav Samodurov as James and Deirdre Chapman as Madge. Lamb was a beautiful Sylph. Her dancing was effortless and light, she really looked as a different kind of being amongst the rest of the company, a creature capable of disappearing at any moment. Her footwork was clear and musical –that difficult ability to make your feet speak… Her jumps were light and joyous. Her interpretation was beautiful, especially in the very last minutes of the ballet. She really made that difficult transition from real joy to utter despair an example of character playing. Samodurov’s dancing was excellent, though I missed more joy in his character, as his James was too serious from the very first moment. Chapman must have been carefully coached by Englund, as her Madge was very much in this artist’s mould. She was impressive in her depiction of sheer loathing for James. Ricardo Cervera as Gurn was also extremely sympathetic to the audience. Far from being a man taking advantage of the situation, he seemed to be another pawn in the grand design that Madge has planned for everybody.

The corps was in good form and in terms of drama, the company was unified and capable of responding to each other at all times.

Author:  ksneds [ Mon Feb 05, 2007 9:27 am ]
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This "Napoli Divertissements", as it is being called, I believe contains the 1st act Ballabile, the 3rd act tarantellas and parts of the 3rd act pas de sept in addition to a brief excerpt from the "Flower Festival in Genzano" pdd. The current second act of "Napoli" dates only from a decade or so ago, and there's not much from there that would be worth or make sense excerpting as the style and thematic content is so different. And frankly, the series of dances for the female corps, get a bit tedious. Pretty, but a tad bland.

But has the Royal Ballet done excerpts before? I don't bellieve they've ever done the full ballet (has any other company besides possibly the Finns or Norweigans done the full ballet?). The only time I can remember excerpts from Napoli was during the gala to open the refurbished Opera House and in Kobborg's "Far From Denmark" program.

Regarding 'La Sylphide'

Samodurov’s dancing was excellent, though I missed more joy in his character, as his James was too serious from the very first moment.

Interesting because the two men who are regularly performing the role in Copenhagen, in particular Mads Blangstrup, tend to give the role a more serious quality from the start. They are enjoying themselves, but not with the all out abandon that one would expect before gettting married. I've always sensed that James was content, but not overjoyed with his impending marriage. But my perceptions could be influenced by the dancers. Blangstrup especially, for I've always felt that he's a dancer who is superb in/ suited to the more serious, often anguished dramatic roles, but to me he has always been quite reserved and seemed stiff in lighter roles. Yet he has done Gennaro in "Napoli" to rave reviews, so perhaps his temperament or approach to roles has changed over time...

Julio Bocca, in a talk before one his final performances of "Romeo and Juliet" apparently questioned how one could really deliver a complete performance in the ballet without experiencing life, and in particular loss. Perhaps approaches towards James are tinged by a dancers' own perceptions and experiences as much as the story.


Author:  Cassandra [ Mon Feb 05, 2007 10:03 am ]
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But has the Royal Ballet done excerpts before? I don't bellieve they've ever done the full ballet (has any other company besides possibly the Finns or Norweigans done the full ballet?). The only time I can remember excerpts from Napoli was during the gala to open the refurbished Opera House and in Kobborg's "Far From Denmark" program.

The Royal Ballet has most certainly danced extracts before, but way back in the early 1960's in performances led by Rudolf Nureyev. I'm told that Anthony Dowell's outstanding talent was first recognized in those Napoli extracts and that his speed and precision led to Ashton creating the role of Oberon for him.

Festival Ballet/ENB danced the complete Napoli under Peter Schaufuss's directorship in the late eighties.

Author:  AnaM [ Tue Feb 06, 2007 4:28 am ]
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Yes, there are photographs of that staging. It is interesting to note that at that time Nureyev had worked with Erik Bruhn and Vera Volkova and he himself had danced some Bournonville (as it can be seen on "Rudolf Nureyev, Erik Bruhn, the complete Bell Telephone Hour performances" DVD).

My understanding, like Cassandra's, is that Nureyev spotted Dowell's talent and pointed it out to Ashton. This is typical Nureyev... he really had an eye for young talent!

As for interpretations of James, I guess, like all great works or art, La Sylphide is open to a myriad of characterisations... That is why it is still appealing and relevant to both audiences and dancers ...

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