Napoli represents the essence of August Bournonville's creativity, both in steps and ideas. It also demonstrates that the concepts of a Bournonville tradition? is not so straightforward and easily definable. Napoli has been danced in an unbroken tradition for 150 years. More than 700 performances. But this does not mean that it has not changed along the way. Quite the contrary. Ballet masters, designers and dancers have revised it time and again in accordance with the era in which they lived. They have tightened it up, adjusted, arranged and re-choreographed. They have created new scenic decor and offered new characterisations. Each generation has wrestled with Napoli from the quite proper point of view that a classic only lives if one can relate to it.
Napoli is a happy ballet and for Bournonville there is good reason for this happiness: the central couple do not give in to life's temptations - represented by the erotic universe of the Blue Grotto - but, with the help of Christianity, they return home to Naples and the gala dancing of Act III. Since the beginning of the century the third act has been the Royal Danish Ballet's visiting card. But seen in isolation this abundance of exuberant dance is actually quite unruly. The ballet should be experienced as a coherent whole.
Both Teresina and Gennaro pass the tests in the Blue Grotto and reach home. To Naples and to everyday life. Following her encounter with Golfo in the Blue Grotto, Teresina probably returns with the greater impression of other possibilities afforded by life. The music for her pas de deux with Golfo is both seductive and sensual.
Another world exists in the Blue Grotto; a Romantic universe where the everyday, with its joys and sorrows, disappears. Bournonville had experienced this himself, swimming into the cave under Capri. And it is this sensation of the compelling, mysterious and different - a world where eroticism, seduction, yearning and death are both dangerous and alluring realities - that should continue to move us today.




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