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Romeo and Juliet

ballet in three acts
music by Sergey Prokofiev

2 hours 10 minutes
one interval
Romeo and Juliet
Choreography: Oleg Vinogradov
Sets Designer: Semyon Pastukh
Costume Designer: Galina Solovyova
The tragedy by Shakespeare written in 1595 have inspired many musicians — starting from Hector Berlioz and Charles Gounod to Pyotr Tchaikovsky. Sergey Prokofiev turned to the plot after his returning from abroad in 1933. In creating the libretto he cooperated not only with Sergey Radlov but also with an outstanding critic, theatre historian and playwright Adrian Piotrovsky. In 1936, the ballet was presented to the Bolshoi Theatre in Moscow that commissioned the work. Prokofiev provided the original version of the ballet with a happy ending. The direction of the Bolshoi Theatre approved the music but the radical change of the Shakespeare’s plot triggered hot discussions. The argument made the authors of the ballet revise their concept. Finally, the agreed with the reproaches in distorting the Shakespeare’s original and composed the tragic ending. The revised ballet presented to the Bolshoi Theatre dissatisfied the direction. The music was considered undanceable; the contract with Prokofiev was canceled. Premiere of the ballet Romeo and Juliet took place on December 30, 1938 in Brno. It was choreographed by Ivo Psota, a ballet dancer, a teacher and ballet master, born in Kiev. The fact that a librettist, Adrian Piotrovsky, had become a victim of political repressions prevented the ballet from being staged in Russia. The name of Piotrovsky was taken away from all the documents. Ballet master Leonid Lavrovsky became a co-author of the libretto. The first night took place on January 11, 1940 and the first ballet Juliet, Galina Ulanova, charmed both the public and choreographers and became the ideal performer of the role. The staging received international recognition. Ballet dancers got used to the music. Shakespeare’s characters and Prokofiev’s music enchanted many famous ballet masters. The new versions of the masterpiece expressed Prokofiev’s music in a new way, more coherent to new times. The repertory of the Mikhailovsky Theatre has had the ballet since 1976: first choreographed by Oleg Vinogradov and then, till 2007, choreographed by Nikolay Boyarchikov. Now the public has a possibility to see the new production by Oleg Vinogradov.

Early spring in Verona. Little by little, all sorts of people fill in the streets; waitresses lay the tables for the visitors. The Capulets’ servants arrive to court the waitresses. The Montagues’ servants arrive to start a fight. Tybalt who is always willing to fight any Montague draws his sword. The fight gets serious; the supporters of the Montague and Capulet households interfere in the fight. The Duke of Verona arrives. The Duke commands them to drop their weapons, and issues a decree stating that anyone who bares arms in the streets of Verona will be sentenced to death.

A room in the Capulets’ house. Juliet playfully teases her old nurse. Juliet’s mother enters and scolds her daughter for her childishness: now Juliet is Paris’ fiancée and must behave properly.

A ball dedicated to Juliet’s betrothal is held at the Capulets’. The ball begins, everybody asks Juliet to show her talent. Romeo who has skulked to the ball can’t help looking at her. Mercutio who is also wearing a mask makes everybody laugh. As Mercutio is the centre of everybody’s attention, Romeo declares his love to Juliet. By accident, his mask slips revealing his face to Juliet. She falls in love with the youth — for the first time.

Tybalt recognizes Romeo. When guests depart, the nurse tells Juliet the name of her beloved.

A moonlit night. The couple meets in the Capulets’ garden — no feud could be an obstacle for them. In the noisy carnival in the square in Verona, Juliet’s nurse hands Romeo a letter from her young mistress. Romeo is happy: Juliet has agreed to become his wife.

Romeo enters Friar Laurence’s cell and begs to wed him to Juliet in secret. Laurence agrees. Juliet arrives, Friar Laurence blesses the newlyweds. Carnival goes on in Verona. Tybalt has met Mercutio — they’re going to have a duel. Romeo tries to stop them but Tybalt manages to kill Mercutio. In revenge, Romeo kills Tybalt. Now Romeo has to flee from Verona not to be executed.

Romeo in Juliet’s bedroom. They wake after their wedding night. Romeo leaves before Juliet’s parents find him. Juliet’s parents announce that she’ll marry Paris. She begs them not to do that — but in vain.

Desperate Juliet runs to Friar Laurence and begs for guidance. He gives her a sleeping potion and instructs her to take it so that her parents will believe she is dead and bury her in the family tomb. Meanwhile, he will tell Romeo to return under cover of darkness and take Juliet away.

Juliet returns and pretends to accept her father’s wishes. Alone, she drinks the sleeping potion and falls into a deathlike coma. Romeo fails to receive the friar’s message. He hears that Juliet has died and is stunned with grief. He drinks poisonous potion. Juliet awakes to find Romeo dead. Grief-stricken, she stabs herself.

The Capulets and the Montagues arrive. Stricken by the death of their children, they swear to stop the feud.



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