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Romanticism: Italian National Dance

Customs of the Region of Preta in the Province of Aquila

Color etching by Pinelli, Rome, 1808. This picturesque image, set in the mountainous area of the Abruzzi, depicts a couple dancing the saltarello. A folk dance typically performed by couples, the saltarello was popular throughout central and southern Italy. Although more closely associated with Spanish dance forms, castanets as well as tambourines often appear in depictions of Italian folk dances.  Cia Fornaroli Collection, Jerome Robbins Dance Division.

Lise Noblet as Fenella in La Muette de Portici (The Dumb Girl of Portici)

Lise Noblet
Lise Noblet

Color lithograph by Achille Devéria, Paris, [184-].  First performed at the Paris Opéra in 1828, La Muette de Portici was an opera-ballet with music by Daniel Auber, choreography by Jean-Louis Aumer, a singing hero (the fisherman Masaniello), and a dancing heroine (the mute Fenella). The work, set in Naples during a seventeenth-century revolt against the Spaniards, capitalized on the Romantic era's fascination with local color, evident in the treatment of Fenella's costume. Many French works of the Romantic period had Italian settings and featured classicized versions of Italian folk dances. Cia Fornaroli Collection, Jerome Robbins Dance Division.

Lucile Grahn in the title role of Catarina, ou La Fille du Bandit (Catarina, or The Daughter of the Bandit)
Color engraving, [Leipzig, ca. 1848].  Choreographed by Jules Perrot in 1846 and performed (albeit in a somewhat different version) at Rome's Teatro Argentina two years later, Catarina opened in the "wild and picturesque" hills near Rome, where the seventeenth-century painter Salvator Rosa has fallen into the hands of women bandits from the Abruzzi led by the beautiful Catarina. In addition to the celebrated Pas Stratégique for Catarina and her musket-bearing amazons, the ballet included popular and masked dances that conveyed the atmosphere of Rome during Carnival time. Jerome Robbins Dance Division.

Sofia Fuoco dancing the Tarantella

Sofia Fuoco
Sofia Fuoco

Color lithograph by Niccolò Sanesi, Florence, [ca. 185-].  Trained by Carlo Blasis, Sofia Fuoco made her debut at La Scala when she was only thirteen, quickly rising to the coveted position of prima ballerina assoluta.  She soon crossed the Alps, where she aroused the enthusiasm of French audiences and the admiration of critics such as Théophile Gautier.  A dancer of fiery temperament (Fuoco, a stage name, means "fire" in Italian), she combined a vivid personality with a dazzling technique. Cia Fornaroli Collection, Jerome Robbins Dance Division.

The Tarantella in Pasquale Borri's L'Etoile de Messine (The Star of Messina)
Color lithograph by Régnier, Joseph Bettannier, and Morlon from a painting by Morlon, Paris, [186-]. A student of Carlo Blasis, Pasquale Borri made his debut at La Scala, remaining there as primo ballerino di rango francese (or "first male dancer of French rank") until 1842. In the decades that followed he danced throughout Italy, partnering Fanny Cerrito, Amalia Ferraris, Augusta Maywood, and Carolina Pochini, the ballerina he finally married. A dancer of elegance and vitality, he was equally successful as a choreographer.L'Etoile de Messine, which premiered in Vienna in 1856 as Die Gauklerin (The Juggler), was revived as La Giocoliera in Milan, Trieste, Rome, and Venice, and lavishly recreated (with new music and a new libretto) at the Paris Opéra in 1861 with a title emphasizing the Sicilian setting, was one of his best known works. A high point of the Paris version (which had a new libretto by Paul Foucher and a new score by Count Nicolò Gabrielli) was the rousing tarantella led by Ferraris in the tragic role of Gazella and Louis Mérante. Jerome Robbins Dance Division.

Statistical, Political, and Mineralogical Map of Italy, with All Post Roads, Relays, and Distances, and the New Borders, Based on the Latest Treaties, Drawn up, Engraved, and Dedicated to His Majesty the Emperor of Austria, King of Hungary, Bohemia, and Italy, etc., etc.

Map engraved by J. A. Orgiazzi, Paris, 1816.  After the collapse of the Napoleonic empire in 1814, Italy was divided into more than a half-dozen states--the Kingdom of Sardinia (Piedmont), Grand Duchy of Parma and Piacenza, Duchy of Modena, Grand Duchy of Tuscany, Principality of Lucca, Papal States, and the Kingdom of Naples--under the domination of Austria.  This map, engraved in 1816 for the Emperor of Austria, who also claimed the title of King of Italy, shows the new political order.  The Lionel Pincus and Princess Firyal Map Division, The New York Public Library

Johnston's War Map of Italy

Map.  Lithograph by W. and A. K. Johnston, 1860.  In the decades following the post-Napoleonic division of Italy, the struggle for national unification intensified.  By 1860, when this "war map" was made, most of the north, including Lombardy, Parma, Modena, Lucca, Tuscany, and Romagna, had voted to join the Kingdom of North Italy under the leadership of the House of Savoy.  Meanwhile, in the south, Garibaldi and his Redshirts were fighting the Bourbon armies of the Kingdom of Naples, which quickly collapsed, and by the end of the year its citizens too had voted for union with the north.  Although Venetia and the Papal States did not become part of the new country until 1866 and Rome until 1870, the Kingdom of Italy was proclaimed in 1861.  The Lionel Pincus and Princess Firyal Map Division, The New York Public Library.