“Romeo and Juliet” by László Seregi/Sergei Prokofiev, Hungarian National Ballet
“Romeo and Juliet” with its eternal tale of fated lovers is a dramatic ballet featuring a strong plot such as the stories of “Carmen” and “Manon Lescaut”. Without such a powerful backbone, the skeleton of a ballet is in danger of sagging, making the set design, costumes and lighting even more vital. “The Nutcracker” is dazzling, “Swan Lake” is mesmerising but strip away the gilt and the special effects and the showcase solos and duets and there is an absence, an emptiness.
Every step, every facial expression in “Romeo and Juliet” ballet has to be choreographed to speak of love and longing and pain, whereas the beautiful but often hollow showcase ballets can rely on the strength of the elegant settings, the breathtaking skill of soloists and the haunting and powerful musical scores.
Composed by Prokofiev in 1935, the ballet featured a happy finale in contrast to Shakespeare’s heartbreaking original. Eventually after pressure from conductor Yuri Fayer, the ballet reverted back to the sad ending. Imagining a saccharine happy finale to this tragic tale is unthinkable now and would have ruined its dramatic power and intense finale.
Expressing the emotions in dance is more challenging than opera but “Romeo and Juliet” given the right dance pairing of the two lovers is gripping, beautifully sad and holds the story. Its contemporary relevance is also strong; falling in love with the one person who is forbidden, only the heart rules the head.
Expect beautifully crafted passionate expression in the love duets. Pain and pleasure mixed. This is one ballet that only succeeds if the love story is fiery, intense and passionate. It is the ultimate love story and the two leads have to be believable.
With alternate casts, Gergely Leblanc and Dimitry Timofeev will play Romeo with Lili Felméry and Aliya Tankypayeva performing as Juliet. László Seregi, the choreographer, sought inspiration from Zeffirelli and his sensationally memorable film of the young lovers from warring families.
To die for love. We can’t live together and we can’t live without each other so we must die. Only in death are we reunited. Maybe many don’t feel such extreme sentiments but this story still has the ability to ignite passion and sadness and empathy; everything you want your audience to feel when they leave the theatre.
The words are not uttered but if the ballet could speak it would end with the blazing red fire of pain and tragedy from Shakespeare’s play, a warning that there are needless deaths, life is very short; sliced shorter for the innocent young lovers, cruel Fate’s victims.
‘See what a scourge is laid upon your hate,
That heaven finds means to kill your joys with love’
(“Romeo and Juliet”, Act 5 Scene 3, William Shakespeare)
“Romeo and Juliet”
Hungarian National Ballet
Opera House, Andrássy út 22, District VI
Friday January 14 until Thursday February 4 via budapesttimes.com
If you are interested about this event please contact stogram for more information.