Romeo and Juliet (Prokofiev)
Romeo and Juliet (Op. 64) (Russian: Ромео и Джульетта) is a ballet by Sergei Prokofiev based on William Shakespeare's play Romeo and Juliet. It is one of the most enduringly popular ballets. Music from the ballet was extracted by Prokofiev as three suites for orchestra and as a piano work.
Based on a synopsis created by Adrian Piotrovsky (who first suggested the subject to Prokofiev) 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. 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 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.
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 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:
- Woodwinds: piccolo, 2 flutes, 2 oboes (2nd doubling on 2nd English horn), English horn, 2 clarinets (2nd doubling on E-flat clarinet), bass clarinet, 2 bassoons, contrabassoon, tenor saxophone
- Brass: 6 horns, 3 trumpets, cornet, 3 trombones, tuba
- Percussion: timpani, snare drum, xylophone, triangle, woodblock, maracas, glockenspiel, tambourine, chime (a’’), cymbals, bass drum
- Keyboards: piano, celesta, organ
- Strings: 2 mandolins, viola d'amore (or viola), 2 harps, first and second violins, violas, violoncellos, double basses
The score is published by Muzyka and the Russian State Publisher.
List of acts, scenes and musical numbers.
|Scene||No.||English title||Russian title (Original title)||Tempo indication||Notes|
|3||The Street Awakens||Улица просыпается||Allegretto|
|4||Morning Dance||Утренний танец||Allegro|
|5||The Quarrel||Ссора||Allegro brusco|
|7||The Prince Gives His Order||Приказ герцога||Andante||a.k.a. The Duke's Command|
|8||Interlude||Интерлюдия||Andante pomposo (L'istesso tempo)|
|Scene 2||9||Preparing for the Ball (Juliet and the Nurse)||Приготовление к балу (Джульетта и Кормилица)||Andante assai. Scherzando||a.k.a. At the Capulets' (Preparations for the Ball)|
|10||Juliet as a Young Girl||Джульетта-Девочка||Vivace||a.k.a. The Young Juliet|
|11||Arrival of the Guests (Minuet)||Съезд гостей (Менуэт)||Assai moderato|
|12||Masks (Romeo, Mercutio and Benvolio in Masks)||Маски (Ромео, Меркуцио и Бенволио в масках)||Andante marciale|
|13||Dance of the Knights||Танец рыцарей||Allegro pesante||a.k.a. Montagues and Capulets|
|14||Juliet's Variation||Вариация Джульетты||Moderato (quasi Allegretto)|
|17||Tybalt Recognizes Romeo||Тибальд узнает Ромео||Allegro|
|18||Gavotte (Departure of the Guests)||Гавот (Разъезд гостей)||Allegro||Gavotte (movement III) from "Classical" Symphony, Op. 25|
|19||Balcony Scene||Сцена у балкона||Larghetto|
|20||Romeo's Variation||Вариация Ромео||Allegretto amoroso|
|21||Love Dance||Любовный танец||Andante|
|Scene 3||22||Folk Dance||Народный танец||Allegro giocoso|
|23||Romeo and Mercutio||Ромео и Меркуцио||Andante tenero|
|24||Dance of the Five Couples||Танец пяти пар||Vivo|
|25||Dance with Mandolins||Танец с мандолинами||Vivace|
|26||The Nurse||Кормилица||Adagio scherzoso|
|27||The Nurse Gives Romeo the Note from Juliet||Кормилица передает Ромео записку от Джульетты||Vivace||a.k.a. The Nurse and Romeo|
|Scene 4||28||Romeo at Friar Laurence's||Ромео у патера Лоренцо||Andante espressivo|
|29||Juliet at Friar Laurence's||Джульетта у патера Лоренцо||Lento|
|Scene 5||30||The People Continue to Make Merry||Народное веселье продолжается||Vivo||a.k.a. Public Merrymaking|
|31||The Folk Dance Again||Снова народный танец||Allegro giocoso||a.k.a. Further Public Festivities (Снова народный праздник)|
|32||Tybalt Meets Mercutio||Встреча Тибальда с Меркуцио||Moderato||a.k.a. Meeting of Tybalt and Mercutio|
|33||Tybalt and Mercutio Fight||Тибалд бьётся с Меркуцио||Precipitato||a.k.a. The Duel|
|34||Death of Mercutio||Меркуцио умирает||Moderato|
|35||Romeo Decides to Avenge Mercutio's Death||Ромео решает мстить за смерть Меркуцио||Andante. Animato|
|36||Finale of Act II||Финал второго действия||Adagio dramatico|
|37||Introduction||Вступление||Andante||reprise of No. 7|
|Scene 6||38||Romeo and Juliet (Juliet's bedroom)||Ромео и Джульетта (Спальня Джульетты)||Lento|
|39||Farewell before Parting||Прощание перед разлукой||Andante||a.k.a. Romeo Bids Juliet Farewell, or The Last Farewell|
|40||The Nurse||Кормилица||Andante assai|
|41||Juliet Refuses to Marry Paris||Джульетта отказывается выйти за Париса||Vivace|
|42||Juliet Alone||Джульетта одна||Adagio|
|Scene 7||44||At Friar Laurence's||У Лоренцо||Andante||a.k.a. At Friar Laurence's Cell|
|Scene 8||46||Again in Juliet's Bedroom||Снова у Джульетты||Moderato tranquillo|
|47||Juliet Alone||Джульетта одна||Andante|
|48||Morning Serenade||Утренняя серенада||Andante giocoso||a.k.a. Aubade|
|49||Dance of the Girls with Lilies||Танец девушек с лилиями||Andante con eleganza|
|50||At Juliet's Bedside||У постели Джульетты||Andante assai|
|Act 4: Epilogue|
|Scene 9||51||Juliet's Funeral||Похороны Джульетты||Adagio funebre|
|52||Death of Juliet||Смерть Джульетты||Adagio (meno mosso del tempo precendente)|
Orchestral suites extracted from Romeo and Juliet
Suite No. 1 from Romeo and Juliet, Op. 64bis
- Folk Dance
- Scene (the Street Awakens)
- Minuet (the Arrival of the Guests)
- Romeo and Juliet
- Death of Tybalt
Suite No. 2 from Romeo and Juliet, Op. 64ter
- Montagues and Capulets
- The child Juliet
- Friar Laurence
- Romeo and Juliet Before Parting
- Dance of the Girls with Lilies
- Romeo at Juliet's Grave
Suite No. 3 from Romeo and Juliet, Op. 101
- Romeo at the Fountain
- Morning Dance
- 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
- Montagues and Capulets
- Friar Laurence
- Dance of the Girls with Lilies
- Romeo and Juliet before Parting
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.
- Clark, Katerina Petersburg: Crucible of Cultural Revolution (Cambridge, Massachusetts: Harvard University Press, 1995)
- Morrison, Simon The People’s Artist: Prokofiev’s Soviet Years (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2008)
- The People's Artist by Simon Morrison, p.32
- Clark, p. 291
- 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.)
|Wikimedia Commons has media related to: Romeo and Juliet (ballet)|
- 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 as reconstructed by Simon Morrison