The next production in San Francisco Ballet’s 2021 Digital Season is Romeo and Juliet – Helgi Tomasson’s interpretation for ballet of Shakespeare’s romantic tragedy about the doomed young lovers of Verona.
The story of Romeo and Juliet has been recreated in almost every theatrical form for hundreds of years. Passionate, dramatic and colorful, it has long held an allure for choreographers, composers, playwrights and theatrical directors, and various interpretations of the ballet have emerged since its first appearance in the latter part of the18th century. Now one of the best loved full-length works in the repertoire, the versions which have proved the most enduring are those set to Sergei Prokofiev’s sumptuous score – acknowledged as one of his greatest masterpieces.
Prokofiev composed Romeo and Juliet in 1935, on a commission from Russian theatrical director, Sergei Radlov, for the Bolshoi Theatre. The libretto was created by Prokofiev, Radlov and Adrian Piotrovsky – a critic, theatre historian and playwright – with choreography by Leonid Lavrovsky. When Prokofiev delivered the score, however, it was deemed “undanceable” by the artistic direction of the Bolshoi, and the contract was canceled. Three years later, Prokofiev’s Romeo & Juliet was premiered in Brno, Czechoslovakia, with the assistance of Ivo Váňa Psota – a dancer, choreographer and director.
It wasn’t until January 11th, 1940, that the ballet – having undergone significant revisions – was premiered in Leningrad by the Kirov Theatre, with choreography by Lavrovsky, and Konstantin Sergeyev and Galina Ulanova dancing the leading roles.
This filmed production of SF Ballet’s Romeo and Juliet – captured on stage at San Francisco’s War Memorial Opera House on May 5th and 7th, 2015 – marked the inauguration of the 2015 film series Lincoln Center at the Movies: Great American Dance, and was screened in cinemas across the United States.
The title roles are danced by former SF Ballet Principals Maria Kochetkova and Davit Karapetyan, with Pascal Molat (now on faculty at SF Ballet School) as Mercutio. Joseph Walsh is Benvolio, and Luke Ingham is Tybalt – both are current Principal Dancers with the Company.
The Italian Renaissance designs are by the late Jens-Jacob Worsaae, lighting is by Thomas R Skelton, and the dramatic sword-fighting scenes are choreographed by Martino Pistone and Helgi Tomasson. Music Director Martin West leads the San Francisco Ballet Orchestra.
Further information and details on tickets and packages may be found on the San Francisco Ballet website.
Information sourced from:
San Francisco Ballet program notes
San Francisco Symphony program notes