Romeo & Juliet by New York State Ballet

By on March 27, 2018

Friday, April 27, 2018 • 7:30PM
and Saturday, April 28, 2018 • 7:30PM

Lyric Theatre • 440 East Avenue, Rochester

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The story of Romeo and Juliet, written by William Shakespeare early in career, is one of the most famous and popular of his works. This story of star-crossed lovers has become one of the most performed plays that Shakespeare has ever written. The title characters are considered archetypal young lovers, brought together by fate and torn apart by circumstance.

Set in Verona, Italy, the story follows Romeo of the House of Montague and Juliet of the House of Capulet as they meet at a ball and fall desperately in love, despite the bitter rivalry that has existed between their families for years. With characters such as Romeo’s friend Mercutio, Friar Lawrence, Juliet’s would-be paramour Paris, and the parents of the young lovers rounding out cast, this classic tale was adapted for the ballet by composer Sergei Prokofiev in 1933 and, like the original play, filled struggle, joy, and untimely death.

Prokofiev had lived away from Russia since 1918 and Romeo and Juliet was to be his triumphant return. He composed a drambalat for the Kirov (now Mariinsky) Theater based on the Shakespearean tragedy, but with a twist – Romeo and Juliet lived at the end. The Great Purge that swept Russia at this time, however, led to the ballet being heavily altered before it premiered in the 1939-40 season. With its premiere, it now included the tragic end that Shakespeare intended.

Today, many people consider Romeo and Juliet to be one of the greatest full length ballets ever composed. A favorite of dancers, choreographers, and patrons alike, this production never fails to stir the heart and the soul. Our interpretation, choreographed by the incomparable Sarah Rothrock-Rickel and brought to life by our company dancers will inspire the lover and the dreamer within all of us. We invite Rochester to join us at the Lyric Theatre on April 27th and 28th to watch as Juliet and her Romeo dance together toward their fate in New York State Ballet’s production of Romeo and Juliet.

Perspective from the Choreographer – 

The timeless tale of Romeo and Juliet was first presented as a four act ballet in the grand style at its opening. Much of the musical score consisting of dances and pageantry not pivotal to the telling of Shakespeare’s story. My vision of the ballet is in two acts, cutting away all excess and focusing on the emotional storyline of the young Romeo and Juliet. The ballet opens with a wide lens, with lively, crowded street and ballroom scenes, and slowly narrows its focus onto the passionate young couple. Like a run away train, Romeo and Juliet are seen hurtling through a series of dark events that eventually leave them alone, grieving and desperate, with no option but their own deaths.

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