Romeo and Juliet is the most famous ballet by Prokofiev and the most ever popular ballet about love. This choreographic version of the tragedy by Shakespeare was first seen on the Mariinsky Theatre stage in 1940. It had been staged by Leonid Lavrovsky, who closely worked with Prokofiev on this production. This is an amazingly touching and thrilling performance.
The Daily Telegraph: "From the present day point of view, the production has many positive qualities: the clearly defined story line; the elegant, refined dance, the lyrical duets; the sets by Pyotr Williams, the faded grandeur of which precisely conveys the atmosphere of Renaissance Italy. Here, too, absolute faith and self-giving from the two lovers, from the very depths of their souls, is essential. It is this that is brought to the ballet by the soloists of the Mariinsky Ballet Company. They are stunning; they are of those dancers who, it would appear, know instinctively that they are born for the stage"
Romeo and Juliet is a ballet by Sergei Prokofiev based on Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet. Music from the ballet was extracted by Prokofiev as three suites for orchestra and as a piano work.
The Tragedy of Romeo and Juliet is a tragedy by William Shakespeare concerning two young "star-cross’d lovers" and the role played by their tragic suicides in ending a long-running family feud. It is one of the most famous of Shakespeare’s plays, one of his earliest theatrical triumphs, and is thought to be the most archetypal love story of the Renaissance and indeed the history of Western culture.
Several ballet adaptations of the story have been made, the first written in the 18th century. The best known feature music by Sergei Prokofiev, and a variety of choreographers have used this music. The first version featuring Prokofiev’s music was performed in 1938.
Photos © 2000-2006 Marc Haegeman
Verona. A morning. City still sleeping. Only Romeo is not sleeping. He wanders along empty streets submersed in dreams of love.
Step-by-step revive streets, there are early passers - by. Servants go out of an inn , clean desktops.
Tybald, nephew of the Capulets comes out. He is the searcher for adventures and fighter, he only waits for a case to battle to the hated Montagues. He sees Benvolio, nephew of Motagues. The case was presented. The combat starts. On a noise run out people from the houses of the Montagues and Capulets. The combat inflames. City is waken up. Strokes of an alarm are heard.
Young nobleman, Paris, are coming to Montagues to ask Juliet to be his wife. But the master of the house doesn’t even notice him, he hurries to join the fighters.
There is a duke of a Verona on the scene . He commands to lay down arms. The duke declares, that from this time, the one who will conceive combat with weapons in arms, will be executed. The people go away, satisfied by the order of the duke.
Room of Juliet. She is cheerful, she teases the Benefactress, throws in her cushions, hides from her. The cheerful games are stopped by the mother of Juliet. She strictly orders to stop playing. Then the mother takes her by an arm and they approach to a mirror. Juliet is an adult.
Dancing party in the palace of the Capulets. All nobles of Verona are gathered there. On a dancing party there are singers, musicians, girl friends of Juliet and Paris with his page. Cheerfully laughing, passes Mercutio.
Ballroom in the house of the Capulets. Behind desktops the visitors talk ceremonially. The dances start. Everyone ask Juliet to dance. Her dance is full of purity, charm, and poetry. There is Romeo in a hall. He is unable to tear his eyes off her. Romeo approaches to Juliet and speaks to her about the feelings. The mask rolls off from his face. Juliet is charmed by beauty and nobleness of his face. She is already in love. But this scene is seen by Tybald. He recognizes Romeo. When the dancing party was terminated, the Benefactress informs Juliet, that Romeo – Montagues, their enemy.
But it will not stop Juliet. Under a cover of darkness they meet in a garden.
They speak about their love, vow fidelity.
Juliet is unable to suffer even a brief separation from him. She sends the Benefactress to find Romeo and to give him the letter. The Benefactress and accompanying her servant appear in the center of a carnival. Everyone dances tarantella, sings, having fun. In crowd she finds Romeo and gives him the letter: Juliet agrees to become his wife.
In cell of Laurence Romeo tells him about their love and asks to marry them. Laurence is touched by purity of feelings of the beloved. He agrees. Juliet enters, and Laurence blesses their union.
The carnival rustles and sparkles on the squares of Verona. Among turbulent fun the friends of Romeo - Mercutio and Benvolio. There is a Tybald. He has noted Mercutio. The combat was knotted. Romeo comes, he attempts to stop the fighters. When Romeo removes a sword of Mercutio to prevent bloodshed, Tybald puts Mercutio a mortal blow. Romeo is in grief. He does not remember himself. He takes a sword of Mercutio and kills Tybald.
The Capulets are craved with revenge. Benvolio helps Romeo to hide.
Romeo gets to the bedroom his young wife. He wishes to see her before the departure. He has to live Verona.
Morning. Juliet’s parents and the benefactress enter her bedroom. They tell her a terrible message - day of her wedding with Paris is assigned already. Juliet cries. But their will is unshakable.
In despair Juliet runs to Laurence. He knows how to help to business: there is a drug, which will load Juliet in dream similar to the death. Only Romeo will know the truth, he will secretly come to city and will steal her from a crypt and will take away to a secure place. Juliet agrees with pleasure.
She returns home and pretends, that obeys the will of the parents. And, having remained one, drinks the drug. In the morning Juliet is found "dead" in the bedroom.
Autumn night in Mantuya. Romeo is told about Juliet’s death. He rushes to Verona.
He sees a funeral cortege, and in the open coffin - his beloved. Under a cover of night he enters the family crypt, says goodbye to Juliet and drinks the poison. Having woken up, Juliet sees a breathless body of Romeo, blinded by grief; she kills herself with his dagger.
The death of both children makes the inconsolable parents to conclude an everlasting peace and in memory of two fine creatures to stop the war.
Ruling house of Verona
Prince Escalus: Prince of Verona
Count Paris: Kin of Prince Escalus; desires to marry Juliet.
Mercutio: Another kinsman of Prince Escalus and friend of Romeo. His name derives from Mercury.
Lord Capulet: Patriarch of the house of Capulet.
Lady Capulet: Matriarch of the house of Capulet; wishes Juliet to marry Paris.
Juliet: Thirteen-year-old daughter of the Capulets; the female protagonist.
Tybalt: Cousin of Juliet; nephew of Lady Capulet; angry and pugnacious. His nickname of "the Prince of Cats" may refer to the quarrelsome and vicious character of Tybalt the Cat in the fable cycle Reynard the Fox, which would have been well-known to Shakespeare's audience.
Nurse: Juliet's personal attendant and confidante: a comic figure who took care of little Juliet ever since she was an infant.
Peter: Capulet servant, assistant of the nurse.
Sampson: Capulet servant; eager to fight the Montagues.
Gregory: Capulet servant.
Montague: Head of the house of Montague.
Lady Montague: Wife of Lord Montague
Romeo: Son of the Montagues; the male protagonist.
Benvolio: Cousin of Romeo. His name means "good-will".
Abram: Montague servant.
Balthasar: Romeo's personal servant.
Friar Lawrence: a Franciscan friar and Romeo's confidant; he marries Romeo and Juliet. He makes potions from herbs.
Friar John: Another friar sent by Friar Lawrence to tell Romeo that Juliet awaits him; fails in this mission.
Apothecary: Druggist who reluctantly sells Romeo the poison.
Chorus, who gives the opening prologue and one other speech, both in the form of a Shakespearean sonnet.