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Bourbon on performances in the royal theatres, there was the limited use of the "comic intermezzo" that traditionally superseded the acts of "opera seria", replacing it with a choreographic action that resumed the themes of the opera that was presented.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.