Romeo and Juliet


Romeo and Juliet ballet. Music by Sergei Prokofiev. Libretto by Leonid Lavrovsky and Sergei Prokofiev. Staged 2015 at the San Francisco Ballet based on choreography by Helgi Thomasson.  Stars Maria Kochetkova (Juliet), David Karapetyan (Romeo), Pascal Molat (Mercutio), Joseph Walsh (Benvolio), Luke Ingham (Tybalt),  Ricardo Bustamante (Lord Capulet), Sofiane Sylve (Lady Capulet), Anita Paciotti (Nurse), Myles Thatcher (Paris), Wan Ting Zhao (Rosaline), Rubén Martín Cintas (Lord Montague), Lacey Escabar (Lady Montague) Jim Sohm (Friar Lawrence), and Martino Pistone (Prince of Verona) along with many other dancers and extras. Martin West conducts the San Francisco Ballet Orchestra.  Lighting design by Thomas R. Skelton; sets and costumes by Jens-Jacob Worsaae; fight direction by Martino Pistone; directed for film by Thomas Grimm; executive producer Andrew Carl Wilk. Released 2017, disc has 5.0 dts-HD Master Audio sound. Grade: B

This production might be called R&J Light. It lasts 116 minutes, whereas other shows based on the Prokofiev music run more like 151 minutes (La Scala). This video was originally intended to be shown in movie theaters. It starts off looking like a traditional video made from a live performance, but it seems to gradually turn into a movie that was made with a ballet stage as its location. In the shot below, it's evident that the San Francisco Ballet had a smaller budget and fewer dancers than, say the ROB or the La Scala Ballet. For example, in the street scene below, we see there are 2 harlots instead of 3, but the harlots in San Fran show more leg than the competition:


I had a bit of trouble keeping the players straight in San Fran. I prefer the way the ROB handles this with accurate color-coding of the feuding clan members and their allies. Below from left to right we see Lord Capulet (Ricardo Bustamante), the Prince of Verona (Martino Pistone), and Lord Montague (Rubén Martín Cintas):


Lady Capulet (Sofiane Sylve):

The next shot below shows the party in honor of Juliet (and of Paris, who has asked to marry Juliet).  For more about the politics involved in this story, see my reviews of the productions from the Royal Opera Ballet and the La Scala Ballet:


Below Romeo (David Karapetyan) and Juliet (Maria Kochetkova) fall in love at the party:


Tybalt (Luke Ingham) is furious at Romeo for crashing the party and interfering with the courtship of Paris and Juliet. Lord Capulet, trying to keep the peace, tells Tybalt to treat Romeo as a guest:


Next below is a shot from the balcony pas de deux:


Romeo gets the letter in which Juliet agrees to marry him:


The secret wedding performed by Friar Lawrence (Jim Sohm) and attended by Juliet's nurse (Anita Paciotti):


Tybalt taunts Mercutio (Pascal Molat). Within minutes they will both be dead:


From an upper porch Juliet watches aghast as her secret husband kills her cousin Tybalt:


From the short honeymoon:


This near-shot is a good example of the movie-like quality of this video:

After the wedding night, Romeo flees Verona early to avoid capture. Lord and Lady Capulet try again to arrange the marriage of Paris to Juliet. They are astonished at the resistance they encounter:

Juliet will have no one but Romeo:

Juliet has taken the sleeping potion and now lies in the family tomb waiting for Romeo. On the left in the gloom you see another shroud covering the corpse of Tybalt on a pedestal:


Paris and Romeo are already dead on the floor of the crypt, and Juliet awakens:


The final scene:

I personally prefer over subject title the rich visual detail found in the full versions of this ballet from the Royal Opera Ballet and La Scala. The star dancers in San Francisco aren't as famous as the stars in London or Milan. And the orchestra music from the San Francisco Ballet doesn't sound as convincing as the competition. But for younger viewers or those in a hurry, subject title is a decent alternative. I'll give this a B grade.

It's hard to see what this San Francisco horse of war has to do with Lincoln Center. There are a lot of short YouTube clips about this show that was seen in movie houses, but I didn't like any of them. The screenshots here look rather dark and dull, but the video looks fine in my HT.