It is a huge, cinematic affair and won considerable acclaim on its last outing with ENB.
In this fair Verona, death is not just the inevitable ending but a cloud that hangs over a city in decay. We open on a piazza where plague victim corpses roll by on a cart, where the Capulet-Montague feud spreads violence through the streets, and three Fate-like figures roll dice as though gambling with the city’s fortunes.
It’s a triumph of storytelling. More than Macmillan, Nureyev had a handle on every detail. Each brawl is as obscene as a teenage fight should be, the Nurse is after her own pleasure, and the doomed Tybalt is young, wild and lovable.
Nureyev also had an eye on the text, with Shakespearean lines like, ‘and palm to palm is holy palmers’ kiss,’ making a literal appearance in the steps.
Designs by Ezio Frigerio are wide piazzas straight out of old Italy, and the rich plums and pale limes of courtly dress glow under lighting by Tharon Musser.
This Romeo and Juliet ballet is concerned as much with youth as with romance, and the young Juliet is motivated by rebellion as well as love.
The choreography is less large and passionate, but idiosyncratic (some say Nureyev was disguising his failing jump), and a few critics found the intensity of feeling suffered as a result. There is no balcony in Nureyev’s balcony scene, a change in tradition that some will find hard to ignore.
The English National Ballet Romeo and Juliet cast has yet to be announced, but with more emphasis on story there’s a chance for some scene-stealing performances. Look out for Cesar Corrales as Mercutio, as well as a youthful Alina Cojucaru’s Juliet.
Prokofiev’s epic score will be played by the ENB Philharmonic.
If the progress towards the tragedy we all expect isn’t quite as heart-rending as in some other versions, Nureyev made up for it in action, and a crystal-clear narrative. ENB Romeo and Juliet tickets are already selling fast, and this is a tragedy you won’t want to miss.
|What||ENB: Romeo and Juliet, Royal Festival Hall|
|Where||Royal Festival Hall, Southbank Centre, Belvedere Road, London, SE1 8XX | MAP|
|Nearest tube||Waterloo (underground)|
01 Aug 17 – 05 Aug 17, 7:30pm, also 2pm on Thursday and Saturday
|Website||Click here to book via the Southbank Centre website|