Romeo and Juliet (Prokofiev)

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Romeo and Juliet (Op. 64) (Russian: Ромео и Джульетта) is a ballet by Sergei Prokofiev based on William Shakespeare's play Romeo and Juliet. Prokofiev reused music from the ballet in three suites for orchestra and a solo piano work.

Commemorative coin depicting a scene from the ballet.

Ballet[edit]

Galina Ulanova and Yuri Zhdanov in the Romeo and Juliet ballet

Based on a synopsis created by Adrian Piotrovsky (who first suggested the subject to Prokofiev)[1] and Sergey Radlov, the ballet in its original form was completed by Prokofiev in September 1935, on commission by the Kirov Ballet, since when he first presented the music to the Bolshoi Ballet that year, they claimed it was "undanceable". The original version had a "happy" ending, but was never publicly mounted, partly due to increased fear and caution in the musical and theatrical community in the aftermath of the two notorious Pravda editorials criticising Shostakovich and other "degenerate modernists" including Piotrovsky.[2] The conductor Yuri Fayer met with Prokofiev frequently during the writing of the music, and he strongly urged the composer to revert to the traditional ending. Fayer went on to conduct the first performance of the ballet at the Bolshoi Theatre.

Suites of the ballet music were heard in Moscow and the United States, but the full ballet premiered in the Mahen Theatre, Brno (then in Czechoslovakia, now in the Czech Republic), on 30 December 1938. It is better known today from the significantly revised version that was first presented at the Kirov Ballet in Leningrad on 11 January 1940, with choreography by Leonid Lavrovsky and with Konstantin Sergeyev and Galina Ulanova in the lead roles.

In 1955 Frederick Ashton choreographed a production of Romeo and Juliet for the Royal Danish Ballet.

In 1962 John Cranko's choreography of Romeo and Juliet for the Stuttgart Ballet helped the company achieve a worldwide reputation. It had its American premiere in 1969.

In 1965 choreographer Sir Kenneth MacMillan's production for the Royal Ballet premiered at the Royal Opera House, Covent Garden. Margot Fonteyn and Rudolf Nureyev brought new life to the characters, as did the set and costume designs by Nicholas Georgiadis; Fonteyn, considered to be near retirement, embarked upon a rejuvenated career with a partnership with Nureyev.

In 1971, John Neumeier, partly inspired by John Cranko, created another version of the ballet in Frankfurt. In 1974 Neumeier's Romeo and Juliet premiered in Hamburg as his first full-length ballet with the company.

In 1977, Rudolf Nureyev created a new version of Romeo and Juliet for the London Festival Ballet, today's English National Ballet. He performed the lead role of Romeo, with British ballerina Patricia Ruanne creating the role of Juliet. As a partnership, they would tour the production internationally, and it continues to be a popular ballet in the ENB repertoire, with its most recent revival in 2010 being staged by Patricia Ruanne and Frederic Jahn, of the original 1977 cast.

The Joffrey Ballet presented the first American production in its 1984–1985 season, including performances in New York City at the New York State Theater and in Washington, D.C. at the Kennedy Center.

In 1985 choreographer László Seregi's production premiered at the Hungarian National Ballet, Budapest.

In 2007 Peter Martins made Romeo + Juliet on New York City Ballet to the Prokofiev music.

On July 4, 2008, with the approval of the Prokofiev family and permission from the Russian State Archive, the original Prokofiev score was given its world premiere. Musicologist Simon Morrison, author of The People's Artist: Prokofiev's Soviet Years, unearthed the original materials in the Moscow archives, obtained permissions, and reconstructed the entire score. Mark Morris created the choreography for the production. The Mark Morris Dance Group premiered the work at the Fisher Center for the Performing Arts at Bard College in New York state. The production subsequently began a year-long tour to include Berkeley, Norfolk, London, New York, and Chicago.

In 2011, the National Ballet of Canada premiered a new choreography of Romeo and Juliet by Alexei Ratmansky in Toronto, with plans to take it on tour in Western Canada in early 2012.

Instrumentation[edit]

In addition to a somewhat standard instrumentation, the ballet also requires the use of the tenor saxophone. This voice adds a unique sound to the orchestra as it is used both in solo and as part of the ensemble. Prokofiev also used the cornet, viola d'amore and mandolins in the ballet, adding an Italianate flavor to the music.

Full instrumentation is as follows:

The score is published by Muzyka and the Russian State Publisher.

Structure[edit]

List of acts, scenes and musical numbers.[3]

SceneNo.English titleRussian title (Original title)Tempo indicationNotes
Act 1
1IntroductionВступлениеAndante assai
Scene 12RomeoРомеоAndante
3The Street AwakensУлица просыпаетсяAllegretto
4Morning DanceУтренний танецAllegro
5The QuarrelСсораAllegro brusco
6The FightБойPresto
7The Prince Gives His OrderПриказ герцогаAndantea.k.a. The Duke's Command
8InterludeИнтерлюдияAndante pomposo (L'istesso tempo)
Scene 29Preparing for the Ball (Juliet and the Nurse)Приготовление к балу (Джульетта и Кормилица)Andante assai. Scherzandoa.k.a. At the Capulets' (Preparations for the Ball)
10Juliet as a Young GirlДжульетта-ДевочкаVivacea.k.a. The Young Juliet
11Arrival of the Guests (Minuet)Съезд гостей (Менуэт)Assai moderato
12Masks (Romeo, Mercutio and Benvolio in Masks)Маски (Ромео, Меркуцио и Бенволио в масках)Andante marciale
13Dance of the KnightsТанец рыцарейAllegro pesantea.k.a. Montagues and Capulets
14Juliet's VariationВариация ДжульеттыModerato (quasi Allegretto)
15MercutioМеркуциоAllegro giocoso
16MadrigalМадригалAndante tenero
17Tybalt Recognizes RomeoТибальд узнает РомеоAllegro
18Gavotte (Departure of the Guests)Гавот (Разъезд гостей)AllegroGavotte (movement III) from "Classical" Symphony, Op. 25
19Balcony SceneСцена у балконаLarghetto
20Romeo's VariationВариация РомеоAllegretto amoroso
21Love DanceЛюбовный танецAndante
Act 2
Scene 322Folk DanceНародный танецAllegro giocoso
23Romeo and MercutioРомео и МеркуциоAndante tenero
24Dance of the Five CouplesТанец пяти парVivo
25Dance with MandolinsТанец с мандолинамиVivace
26The NurseКормилицаAdagio scherzoso
27The Nurse Gives Romeo the Note from JulietКормилица передает Ромео записку от ДжульеттыVivacea.k.a. The Nurse and Romeo
Scene 428Romeo at Friar Laurence'sРомео у патера ЛоренцоAndante espressivo
29Juliet at Friar Laurence'sДжульетта у патера ЛоренцоLento
Scene 530The People Continue to Make MerryНародное веселье продолжаетсяVivoa.k.a. Public Merrymaking
31The Folk Dance AgainСнова народный танецAllegro giocosoa.k.a. Further Public Festivities (Снова народный праздник)
32Tybalt Meets MercutioВстреча Тибальда с МеркуциоModeratoa.k.a. Meeting of Tybalt and Mercutio
33Tybalt and Mercutio FightТибалд бьётся с МеркуциоPrecipitatoa.k.a. The Duel
34Death of MercutioМеркуцио умираетModerato
35Romeo Decides to Avenge Mercutio's DeathРомео решает мстить за смерть МеркуциоAndante. Animatoa.k.a The Death of Tybalt
36Finale of Act IIФинал второго действияAdagio dramatico
Act 3
37IntroductionВступлениеAndantereprise of No. 7
Scene 638Romeo and Juliet (Juliet's bedroom)Ромео и Джульетта (Спальня Джульетты)Lento
39Farewell before PartingПрощание перед разлукойAndantea.k.a. Romeo Bids Juliet Farewell, or The Last Farewell
40The NurseКормилицаAndante assai
41Juliet Refuses to Marry ParisДжульетта отказывается выйти за ПарисаVivace
42Juliet AloneДжульетта однаAdagio
43InterludeИнтерлюдияAdagio
Scene 744At Friar Laurence'sУ ЛоренцоAndantea.k.a. At Friar Laurence's Cell
45InterludeИнтерлюдияL'istesso tempo
Scene 846Again in Juliet's BedroomСнова у ДжульеттыModerato tranquillo
47Juliet AloneДжульетта однаAndante
48Morning SerenadeУтренняя серенадаAndante giocosoa.k.a. Aubade
49Dance of the Girls with LiliesТанец девушек с лилиямиAndante con eleganza
50At Juliet's BedsideУ постели ДжульеттыAndante assai
Act 4: Epilogue
Scene 951Juliet's FuneralПохороны ДжульеттыAdagio funebre
52Death of JulietСмерть ДжульеттыAdagio (meno mosso del tempo precendente)

Orchestral suites extracted from Romeo and Juliet[edit]

Suite No. 1 from Romeo and Juliet, Op. 64bis[edit]

  1. Folk Dance
  2. Scene (the Street Awakens)
  3. Madrigal
  4. Minuet (the Arrival of the Guests)
  5. Masks
  6. Romeo and Juliet
  7. Death of Tybalt

Suite No. 2 from Romeo and Juliet, Op. 64ter[edit]

  1. Montagues and Capulets
  2. The child Juliet
  3. Friar Laurence
  4. Dance
  5. Romeo and Juliet Before Parting
  6. Dance of the Girls with Lilies
  7. Romeo at Juliet's Grave

Suite No. 3 from Romeo and Juliet, Op. 101[edit]

  1. Romeo at the Fountain
  2. Morning Dance
  3. Juliet
  4. The Nurse
  5. Aubade (Morning serenade)
  6. The Death of Juliet

Ten Pieces for Piano, Op. 75[edit]

Prokofiev reduced selected music from the ballet in 1937 as Romeo and Juliet: Ten Pieces for Piano, Op. 75, which he premiered himself later that year.

  1. Folk Dance
  2. Scene: The Street Awakens
  3. Minuet: Arrival of the Guests
  4. Juliet as a Young Girl
  5. Masquers
  6. Montagues and Capulets
  7. Friar Laurence
  8. Mercutio
  9. Dance of the Girls with Lilies
  10. Romeo and Juliet before Parting

Recordings[edit]

Sergei Prokofiev himself made the first recording of music from the ballet, with the Moscow Philharmonic Orchestra in 1938. Since then, there have been recordings of the full score, as well as various excerpts such as the orchestral suites the composer prepared. Leopold Stokowski conducted the NBC Symphony Orchestra in a rare stereo recording in 1954 and Michael Tilson Thomas conducted the San Francisco Symphony Orchestra in 1995, in selections from the score, both for RCA Victor. Lorin Maazel also made a noted complete recording of the score with the Cleveland Orchestra in 1973.

Sources[edit]

Notes[edit]

  1. ^ The People's Artist by Simon Morrison, p.32
  2. ^ Clark, p. 291
  3. ^ S. Prokofiev: Op. 64 Romeo and Juliet, Ballet in Four Acts, Nine Scenes. Moscow: Muzyka, 1976. (С. Прокофьев: Соч. 64 Ромео и Джульетта, Балет в четырех действиях, девяти картинах. Москва: Издательство «Музыка», 1976 г.)

External links[edit]