Bolshoi: Romeo & Juliet
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Ballet in two acts
Libretto by Sergei Prokofiev, Sergei Radlov and Adrian Piotrovsky, after the play of the same name by William Shakespeare, in the version by Yuri Grigorovich.
Based on the play by William Shakespeare, Romeo and Juliet is one of the most popular ballets in the world. Nevertheless, its creation was difficult. Originally commissioned by the Leningrad Kirov Ballet in 1934, Sergei Prokofiev’s Romeo and Juliet did not premiere on the Kirov stage until 1940, or at the Bolshoi until 1946. Indeed, the two companies refused first the theme, then the steps – which ballet dancers declared impossible – and finally the score, which was deemed unlistenable.
Today the ballet is Prokofiev’s most esteemed work, thanks to its inspired melodies, its great variety of rhythms and its memorable main characters. In 1978 Yuri Grigorovich revived Prokofiev’s production for the Paris Opera, and it opened later at the Bolshoi Theatre in 1979. Today’s choreographic version is a revival of this first production. It premiered in April 2010 at the Bolshoi Theatre. In this version, Shakespeare’s tragedy has become extremely abstract. Shakespeare’s world has been generalised and cleared of everyday matters, freeing the stage from any details not connected with the main theme. Grigorovich developed the main character from his personal memories of Natalia Bessmertnova, his very first Juliet (in 1978) and his main inspiration.
To Prince Escalus' dismay, the rivalry between the Capulets and Montagues brings bloodshed to the city of Verona.
Romeo, heir of the Montagues, is distraught because his love for Rosaline is not requited. To console him, his friend Mercutio persuades him to attend the ball that Capulet has organised to find suitors for his daughter Juliet.
Romeo attends the ball incognito. When he meets Juliet, the two fall instantly in love. They are overwhelmed when they discover they belong to two rival families.
Music: Sergei Prokofiev
Choreographer: Yuri Grigorovich
Assistant choreographer: Vasily Vorokhobko
Sets and costumes: Simon Virsaladze
Lighting design: Mikhail Sokolov
Music director: TBC
With the Orchestra of the State Academic Bolshoi Theatre of Russia
With the Bolshoi soloists and the Bolshoi Corps de Ballet