Romeo and Juliet (Prokofiev)

"Romeo and Juliet" (Op. 64) ( _ru. Ромео и Джульетта) is a ballet by Sergei Prokofiev based on William Shakespeare's play "Romeo and Juliet". Music from the ballet was extracted by Prokofiev as three suites for orchestra and as a piano work.


The ballet was thought to have been composed around 1935 or 1936, on commission by the Kirov Ballet. 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". Suites of the ballet music were heard in Moscow and the United States, but the full ballet premiered in Brno, Czechoslovakia, on 30 December 1938. It is better known today from the significantly revised version that was first presented at the Kirov in Leningrad on 11 January 1940, with choreography by Leonid Lavrovsky. Prokofiev objected to this version.

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.

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 1965 choreographer Sir Kenneth MacMillan's production for the Royal Ballet premiered at the Royal Opera House, Covent Garden. Margot Fonteyn and Rudolph 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 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 as the composer intended. 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 (in progress as this is written) to include Berkeley, London, New York, and Chicago.

; Act I :: Scene 1 :: No 1 Introduction :: No 2 Romeo :: No 3 The street awakens :: No 4 Morning Dance :: No 5 The Quarrel :: No 6 The Fight :: No 7 The Prince gives his order :: No 8 Interlude : Scene 2 :: No 9 Preparing for the Ball (Juliet and the Nurse) :: No 10 Juliet as a young girl :: No 11 Arrival of the guests (Minuet) :: No 12 Masks :: No 13 Dance of the Knights:: No 14 Juliet's Variation :: No 15 Mercutio :: No 16 Madrigal :: No 17 Tybalt recognizes Romeo :: No 18 Departure of the guests (Gavotte) :: No 19 Balcony : Scene :: No 20 Romeo's Variation :: No 21 Love Dance ; Act II : Scene 1 :: No 22 Folk Dance :: No 23 Romeo and Mercutio :: No 24 Dance of the five couples :: No 25 Dance with the mandolins :: No 26 The Nurse :: No 27 The Nurse gives Romeo the note from Juliet : Scene 2 :: No 28 Romeo with Friar Laurence :: No 29 Juliet with Friar Laurence : Scene 3 :: No 30 The people continue to make merry :: No 31 A Folk Dance again :: No 32 Tybalt meets Mercutio :: No 33 Tybalt and Mercutio fight :: No 34 Mercutio dies :: No 35 Romeo decides to avenge Mercutio's death :: No 36 Finale ; Act III : Scene 1 :: No 37 Introduction:: No 38 Romeo and Juliet (Juliet's bedroom) :: No 39 The last farewell :: No 40 The Nurse :: No 41 Juliet refuses to marry Paris :: No 42 Juliet alone :: No 43 Interlude : Scene 2 :: No 44 At Friar Laurence's :: No 45 Interlude : Scene 3 :: No 46 Again in Juliet's bedroom :: No 47 Juliet alone :: No 48 Morning Serenade :: No 49 Dance of the girls with the lilies :: No 50 At Juliet's bedside ; Epilogue ::: No 51 Juliet's funeral :: No 52 Death of Juliet


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 a medieval flavor to the music.

Orchestral suites extracted from "Romeo and Juliet"

uite No. 1 from "Romeo and Juliet", Op. 64bis

# Folk Dance
# Scene (the Street Awakens)
# Madrigal
# Minuet (the Arrival of the Guests)
# Masks
# Romeo and Juliet
# Death of Tybalt

uite No. 2 from "Romeo and Juliet", Op. 64ter

# Montagues and Capulets
# Juliet the Young Girl
# Friar Laurence
# Dance
# Romeo and Juliet Before Parting
# Dance of the Antilles Girls
# Romeo at Juliet's Grave

uite No. 3 from "Romeo and Juliet", Op. 101

# Romeo at the Fountain
# Morning Dance
# Juliet
# The Nurse
# Aubade (Morning serenade)
# The Death of Juliet...

Ten Pieces for Piano, Op. 75

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.

# Folk Dance
# Scene: The Street Awakens
# Minuet: Arrival of the Guests
# Juliet as a Young Girl
# Masquers
# Montagues and Capulets
# Friar Laurence
# Mercutio
# Dance of the Girls with Lilies
# Romeo and Juliet before Parting

External links

* [ Notes by Paul Serotsky]
* [ "Romeo and Juliet": production histories]
* [ Romeo and Juliet] The ballet choreography by Rudolf Nureyev
* [ March 7, 1985 NY Times review by Anna Kisselgoff]
* [ "Romeo & Juliet, On Motifs of Shakespeare": website on first production using the original Prokofiev score]

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