Teatro di San Carlo Ballet Company Cinderella
Venue: National Centre for the Performing Arts - Opera House
Dates: July 06-08, 2018
Music: Sergey Prokofiev
Libretto: Nikolai Volkov
Choreography: Giuseppe Picone
Sets: Nicola Rubertelli
Costumes: Giusi Giustino
Premiere: November 21st, 1945, Bolshoi Theatre, Moscow
Cinderella: Claudia d'Antonio / Anna Chiara Amirante
Prince: Alessandro Staiano / Salvatore Manzo
Arabella (stepsister): Candida Sorrentino
Araminta (stepsister): Sara Sancamillo
Fairy: Anna Chiara Amirante / Luisa Ieluzzi
Stepmother: Valentina Vitale
Ballet in three acts, libretto by Nikolai Volkov inspired by the tale written by Perrault, and music by Sergey Prokofiev. The topic of this famous fairy tale has always attracted the attention of the choreographers and proved to be particularly suitable for dancing forms.
After the première in Moscow in 1945, there were numerous versions of the ballet both in the Soviet Union and in the West. In 1946 the Kirov Theater in Leningrad staged a choreography by Serghiev (also interpreter together with the protagonist Natalia Dudinskaja); later the ballet appeared on stages of theatres of Kiev (1949), Riga (1954) and many others of the Soviet Union. A relevant edition of the ballet was the one set up by the Sadler's Wells Ballet (today Royal Ballet) at Covent Garden of London (1948), with the choreography of F. Ashton, sets and costumes by J.D. Malcès, and with Moira Shearer as protagonist, who replaced the injured Fonteyn (who was the interpreter since 25 February 1949). A Particular curiosity: in this edition, to be considered fundamental in comparison to those that came later, the roles of the step-sisters are played by two male dancers, according to the humorist rules of the traditional English pantomime (F. Ashton and R.Helpmann). At La Scala the ballet was set up for the first time in December 1955, with choreography by A. Rodriguez, scenes and costumes by A. Beaurepaire, interpreters V. Verdy and G. Perugini, then Carla Fracci at her debut at La Scala. Cinderella by Prokofiev, like Romeo and Juliet, is part of the romantic ballet entering also the repertoire of contemporary ballet. Naturally of great importance is the quality of Prokofiev's music that has overshadowed the poor scores on the same subject that had preceded it. Although it corresponds to the needs of the dance and its obligatory features, in the music there is a variety of rhythms and a warm melodic vein. While the step-sisters, the mother's favourites, are preparing for the great ball that the prince will give in his palace, a beggar enters and asks for charity. Cinderella helps her with a piece of bread. Left alone after the sister steps out, Cinderella sees the old woman, who turns out to be the good fairy that leads her at the party, where the prince dances with her. It is midnight. Now when the spell is destined to fade (twelve-hour dance), Cinderella flees losing the shoe. The prince searches for her around the world (exotic dances). Recognized in her own home, where the stepsisters have vainly tried to wear the shoe, Cinderella marries the prince (pas de deux finale).
The scene opens with Cinderella busy doing the household chores at her father’s house. Left alone by her stepsisters, Arabella and Araminta, who detest her, she recalls with sadness her childhood when her real mother was still alive and everything was different. She knows her father always loves her but he is not able to change the feelings of his other two children. Meanwhile a beggar arrives and the two stepsisters make fun of her while Cinderella offers kindness and comfort to her. Arabella and Araminta begin to prepare for the Grand Ball. The stepmother accompanies them leaving Cinderella alone at home. The beggar comes back and reveals that she is a fairy. She calls to her the Fairies of the Four Seasons and their Knights and returns the kindness she received from Cinderella with a magnificent evening gown for the Grand Ball. She warns Cinderella that the spell will finish at midnight. At that moment, the beautiful princess will go back to being a humble girl. Then Cinderella is taken to the Ball.
At the palace, there is a great party. Cinderella’s stepsisters arrive and immediately afterwards the prince also makes his entrance. Cinderella enters the ballroom last, accompanied by magic music. Everyone thinks she is a princess, she is so beautiful and radiant, and not even her stepmother and stepsisters recognise her. The prince invites her to dance and in the middle of the party, amidst all the guests, he declares his love. Taken by the dance, Cinderella forgets the warning of the fairy but with the sounding of the midnight bells, she comes to her senses and suddenly runs away. The prince, surprised, tries to stop her and one of her shoes remains in his hands. He promises to search for the beautiful princess who is the owner of the shoe.
The prince leaves with his four faithful friends to search for the mysterious girl and the Fairies of the Four Seasons make it possible for them to reach exactly the house where Cinderella lives. Arabella and Araminta try to put on the shoe but, in spite of their efforts and the help of everyone, they do not succeed in their intent. Then the prince decides to allow Cinderella to try on the shoe and immediately he recognises her as the mysterious princess of the Ball. Taken by the notes of the magical music, they dance to their dream of love.
Teatro di San Carlo Ballet Company
Teatro di San Carlo is the oldest of the Italian theatres. It was built in 1737 by King Charles of Bourbon (41 years before La Scala, and 51 years before La Fenice). Considered "the most beautiful opera house in the world" (Stendhal) for the splendor of its main hall, it has acquired a prominent place in the history of music over the centuries, contributing to the birth of the Italian opera, from the eighteenth-century "opera seria" to the nineteenth-century romantic melodrama. What’s more, San Carlo has also made a decisive contribution to the art of ballet. Even before the opening of the new theater, among the provisions of King Charles of Bourbon on performances in the royal theatres, there was the limited use of the "comic intermezzo" that traditionally superseded the acts of "opera seria", replacing it with a choreographic action that resumed the themes of the opera that was presented. With the opening of San Carlo this custom was maintained and expanded to complete performances of ballet, so that a "Neapolitan school" of this art could rapidly develop and establish itself, hand in hand with the fame that the Theatre acquired in Europe.
The first famous choreographer of Teatro di San Carlo was Gaetano Grossetesta, author of the three ballets that accompanied, on the November 4th, 1737, the opera of the opening of the Theatre, Achille in Sciro by Domenico Sarro: one was performed before the beginning of the opera, the second during the intermission and the third after the conclusion (the titles were: Marinai e Zingari, Quattro Stagioni, I Credenzieri). According to the custom of the time, the choreographer coincided with that of the composer and Grossetesta, who remained active at San Carlo for about 30 years, composed all the music of his own ballets. This tradition was interrupted by Salvatore Viganò. Born in Naples, highly active at San Carlo in Naples, and for long periods, also in the theatres of the major capitals (Paris, Vienna, London), Viganò is one of the key characters in the history of European ballet, starting and imposing the dramatic evolution of the ballet performances, that thanks to him, became "balletto d'azione", and then "coreodramma". He should be mentioned with other famous choreographers and dancers trained at San Carlo in Naples: Carlo Le Picq, Gaetano Gioia, Antonio Guerra e Carlo Blasis, who with his wife Annunziata Ramazzini was called to teach in the Moscow Bolshoi School. Among the dancers were Amelia Brugnoli, Fanny Cerrito, Fanny Elssler, also presents at San Carlo in many seasons, and Maria Taglioni who formed the most legendary trio of French romantic ballet dances. Among the choreographers should also be noted Salvatore Taglioni, Maria's uncle, who was director of the Ballet Company at Teatro di San Carlo from 1817 to 1860, and among the dancers, Carlotta Grisi and Elisa Vaquemoulin. In the late nineteenth and early twentieth century, ballet at Teatro di San Carlo underwent the changing tastes of society and overcame the esthetic crisis of Romanticism without seeking its own identity, but trusting to the national fashion, moreover respectable, of Manzotti's festive ballet, including Ballo Excelsior and Pietro Micca. Nonetheless it expressed an international "star" in Ettorina Mazzucchelli. At the end of the war the Company of Teatro di San Carlo started to host the greatest soloists of our time, from Margot Fonteyn to Carla Fracci and Ekaterina Maximova, from Rudolf Nureyev to Vladimir Vassiliev, to whom the choreography of many performances have been entrusted. The contribution of Roland Petit has been significant in recent years, especially in ballet choreographies such as Il pipistrello and Duke Ellington. After Luciano Cannito, Elisabetta Terabust, Anna Razzi, Giuseppe Carbone and Alessandra Panzavolta, Giuseppe Picone is the new Ballet Company director.