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Romeo and Juliet - Ballet
Romeo and Juliet ballet premiered in 1938 at the Mahen Theatre in Brno, Czech, with choreography by Ivo Váňa-Psota and music by Sergei Prokofiev.
The ballet was based on William Shakespeare's famous play with the same title. Sergei Prokofiev first composed the music in 1935 and made a few changes.
The initial version of Romeo and Juliet ballet wasn’t accepted by the Soviet cultural officials as it had a happy ending (unlike the original, which was a tragedy). The ballet was finally presented on 30 December 1938 though Prokofiev couldn’t attend it.
The Plot and Acts
Romeo and Juliet is divided into four acts. The first act starts with a quarrel between servants of the Capulets and the Montagues. The families happen to be the most powerful houses in Verona. The Capulets host a ball and invite Count Paris with the hope of marrying Juliet to him.
Romeo from the Montagues is taken to the party of Benvolio and Mercutio to help him overcome his unrequited love for Rosaline. Juliet captures Romeo's attention, and he falls in love with her.
But he stays low, not wanting to risk another feud between the families. Tybalt, Juliet's cousin, notices this and wants to fight Romeo.
The act ends with Romeo and Juliet confessing their love for each other after the party.
The second act is where the nurse passes messages between Romeo and Juliet. The duo plans to marry in secret. Mercutio goes to the duel with Tybalt on Romeo’s behalf and gets killed. Romeo kills Tybalt and gets exiled.
The third act is where Romeo and Juliet marry, but Juliet’s family fixes her wedding with Count Paris. She asks Friar Lawrence to give her a potion to go into a coma for a couple of days. The act ends with Juliet drinking the potion.
The final act is where Friar Lawrence’s message doesn’t reach Romeo, who thinks Juliet is really dead and kills himself. Juliet wakes up to find Romeo dead beside her and kills herself in grief.
The popular version of Romeo and Juliet ballet is from 1940, performed at the Kirov Theatre (Mariinsky Theatre) in Leningrad (Saint Petersburg).
It was choreographed by Leonid Lavrovsky and had Galina Ulanova and Konstantin Sergeyev in the main roles. Though Prokofiev objected to the changes made, this production won the Stalin Prize and received international acclaim.