Ballet in Naples
By Jeff Matthews
The season program always reads "Opera and Ballet at San Carlo (year)," which reflects the fact that in Naples, as in most places in Italy, the ballet company is part of the same organization that provides opera – in this case, the San Varlo Theater. As elsewhere, dancers in Naples serve two ends: (1) to provide incidental dancing called for in many operas, and (2) to perform independent ballet. In Naples, there is both a ballet school and a ballet company. You start as a child in the former and hope to get good enough to move up to the latter.
Dance has always had a place at San Carlo. On opening night, November 4th, 1737, together with Achille in Sciro by Domenico Sarro, the first-ever opera at the splendid new theater, there were three short ballets (one before, one between acts one and two, and one after the opera) composed and choreographed by Gaetano Grossatesta. He worked at San Carlo for 30 years and was replaced by one of the most important names in the history of classical ballet: Salvatore Vigano (1769-1821), a Neapolitan dancer and choreographer who also studied and worked in France and Germany and who even collaborated with Beethoven on the ballet, Die Geschöpfe des Prometheus. (And wouldn't that look good on your résumé!) Vigano is considered the father of a new kind of performance called "coreodrama" about which I know nothing except that dance tells a story and is not simply moving around to music.
Read more about this at the Napoli.com website: