Preview: Romeo and Juliet
The South Bohemian Theater's ballet company brings a moving Verona to town
Posted: February 6, 2013
Šimon Kubáň and Cristina Porres Mormoneo will again star as William Shakespeare's star-crossed lovers, Romeo and Juliet.
At the end of January, Lucidor and Arabella as performed by the National Theater Brno's ballet company enjoyed great success as the first guest performance of the Open Stage cycle at the Prague National Theater. And so the venue's arms and stage have remained open for various other Czech and foreign dance companies. Second in line is the South Bohemian Theater's ballet company with Romeo and Juliet, a three-act work created by the Hungarian choreographer Attila Egerházi, also the artistic director.
The stars that cross this young love, the love that costs these kids their lives. Is anyone not familiar with Romeo and Juliet, Shakespeare's most famous love tragedy - and indeed the most famous - written some 500 years ago? Along with Hamlet, Romeo and Juliet is one of Shakespeare's most frequently performed works. No matter the era, we all love this story because we've all been in love and will never tire of Romeo and Juliet, even if each time we become entangled in its web of desperate longing we desire an ending that doesn't include (spoiler alert) poison, dagger, double suicide.
Often adapted for stage, film, musical and opera, Romeo and Juliet is also one of the most enduringly popular ballets. Originally, Sergei Prokofiev's score, which accompanies this production, had been commissioned in 1935 by Moscow's Bolshoi Theater, but, for multiple reasons, it was shelved. Not only was the music considered "undanceable," but the authorities also disapproved of Prokofiev's proposed happy ending to the story, and the composer himself was out of favor with the newly formed committee that enforced ideological policy. Not many people know the world premiere of the full-length ballet with Prokofiev's beautiful, stirring and very emotional score finally took place three years later, in Brno. Since then, various choreographic visions have been performed countless times starring the world's best dancers and ballerinas.
The South Bohemian Theater premiered Egerházi's new choreography of Romeo and Juliet last April to rave reviews. "My choreography is based on the classical ballet technique enriched with modern elements," Egerházi writes in an e-mail. "What inspired me was Prokofiev's beautiful music and, of course, the immortal story itself. The unhappy fate of two lovers coming from feuding families is probably as old as humankind, but still very current in my opinion. The emergence of this performance is like the birth of a child that adopts characteristics of its parents - the author of the story and the author of the choreography. The compact human being is born - a performance updated according to current time, able to reach not only the young generation, but every one of us. It's important not to forget, because stories have been always repeated in history, and repetition is the mother of wisdom."
When: Sunday, Feb. 10, at 7
Where: Estates Theater
Tickets: 60-340 Kč, available through Ticketportal and National Theater box offices
Egerházi has invited foreign artists to collaborate with him on Romeo and Juliet. It gives his production an international flavor. "I'm very glad that Shirley Essemboom, a longtime soloist and assistant of Jiří Kylián from Nederlands Dans Theater, accepted my invitation," he writes. "As an assistant of choreography, she enriched the performance with many interesting ideas. The set and lighting design was created by Loes Shakenbos, who has been working on many European stages; very precise costumes that immediately transfer the spectators to 16th-century Verona were made by Bregje Van Balen. I'm pleased that the views and opinions of all colleagues whom I invited to work with me fully resonate with my ideas of the production."
The timeless story of Romeo and Juliet remains one of the most powerful and sincere depictions of true love onstage. That is why this intensely appealing tragedy of the young Veronese lovers, together with Prokofiev's matchless score, continues to be an audience favorite.
Johana Mücková can be reached at