27 February 2023, 19:00 - Sergei Prokofiev "Romeo and Juliet" (Ballet in 3 Acts) - uVisitRussia
Home Theaters Saint Petersburg Hermitage Theatre 27 February 2023, 19:00 - Sergei Prokofiev "Romeo and Juliet" (Ballet in 3 Acts)
2023 | Monday
Classical ballet
Hermitage Theatre, Saint Petersburg
World premiere: Kirov Theatre of Opera and Ballet (Mariinsky), Leningrad, 11 January 1940

In the early- and mid-twentieth century, the three major Tchaikovsky ballets -- Swan Lake, The Sleeping Beauty, and The Nutcracker -- were viewed as the three greatest full-length ballets. Not surprisingly, they were also more popular by wide margins than all other works in the genre. By the latter quarter of the century, however, Prokofiev's Romeo and Juliet had entered the trio's select company and remains exceedingly popular today. Some have even asserted it is the greatest of full-length ballets. Certainly, it is one of Prokofiev's supreme masterpieces and, via the three suites extracted from it, among his most often-played music. The dramatic story of two lovers unfolds against a background of life in an Italian city where nothing stands still, not even for a moment. Lyric scenes alternate with depictions of street festivities in a commedia dell’arte style, rudely interrupted by the skirmishes between the warring clans.

ballet in three acts

music by Sergey Prokofiev

Choreography: Oleg Vinogradov
Sets design: Semyon Pastukh
Costumes 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.