Romeo and Juliet (Prokofiev): Wikis


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From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Romeo and Juliet (Op. 64) (Russian: Ромео и Джульетта) is a ballet by Sergei Prokofiev based on William Shakespeare's play Romeo and Juliet. Music from the ballet was extracted by Prokofiev as three suites for orchestra and as a piano work.



Based on a synopsis created by Adrian Piotrovsky (who first suggested the subject to Prokofiev)[1] and Sergey Radlov, the ballet in its original form was completed by Prokofiev in September 1935, on commission by the Kirov Ballet. The original version had a "happy" ending, but was never publicly mounted, partly due to increased fear and caution in the musical and theatrical community in the aftermath of the two notorious Pravda editorials criticising Shostakovich and other "degenerate modernists". Suites of the ballet music were heard in Moscow and the United States, but the full ballet premiered in Brno, Czechoslovakia, on 30 December 1938. It is better known today from the significantly revised version that was first presented at the Kirov in Leningrad on 11 January 1940, with choreography by Leonid Lavrovsky.

In 1962 John Cranko's choreography of Romeo and Juliet for the Stuttgart Ballet helped the company achieve a worldwide reputation. It had its American premiere in 1969.

The Joffrey Ballet presented the first American production in its 19841985 season, including performances in New York City at the New York State Theater and in Washington, D.C. at the Kennedy Center.

In 1965 choreographer Sir Kenneth MacMillan's production for the Royal Ballet premiered at the Royal Opera House, Covent Garden. Margot Fonteyn and Rudolph Nureyev brought new life to the characters, as did the set and costume designs by Nicholas Georgiadis; Fonteyn, considered to be near retirement, embarked upon a rejuvenated career with a partnership with Nureyev.

In 2007 Peter Martins made Romeo + Juliet on New York City Ballet to the Prokofiev music.

On July 4, 2008, with the approval of the Prokofiev family and permission from the Russian State Archive, the original Prokofiev score was given its world premiere. Musicologist Simon Morrison, author of The People's Artist: Prokofiev's Soviet Years unearthed the original materials in the Moscow archives, obtained permissions, and reconstructed the entire score. Mark Morris created the choreography for the production. The Mark Morris Dance Group premiered the work at the Fisher Center for the Performing Arts at Bard College in New York state. The production subsequently began a year-long tour (in progress as this is written) to include Berkeley, Norfolk, London, New York, and Chicago.

Act I 
Scene 1
No 1 Introduction
No 2 Romeo
No 3 The street awakens
No 4 Morning Dance
No 5 The Quarrel
No 6 The Fight
No 7 The Prince gives his order
No 8 Interlude
Scene 2
No 9 Preparing for the Ball (Juliet and the Nurse)
No 10 Juliet as a young girl
No 11 Arrival of the guests (Minuet)
No 12 Masks
No 13 Dance of the Knights
No 14 Juliet's Variation
No 15 Mercutio
No 16 Madrigal
No 17 Tybalt recognizes Romeo
No 18 Departure of the guests (Gavotte) (It is interesting to note that this piece has a striking similarity to the third movement of Symphony No. 1 (Prokofiev)
No 19 Balcony : Scene
No 20 Romeo's Variation
No 21 Love Dance
Act II
Scene 1
No 22 Folk Dance
No 23 Romeo and Mercutio
No 24 Dance of the five couples
No 25 Dance with the mandolins
No 26 The Nurse
No 27 The Nurse gives Romeo the note from Juliet
Scene 2
No 28 Romeo with Friar Laurence
No 29 Juliet with Friar Laurence
Scene 3
No 30 The people continue to make merry
No 31 A Folk Dance again
No 32 Tybalt meets Mercutio
No 33 Tybalt and Mercutio fight
No 34 Mercutio dies
No 35 Romeo decides to avenge Mercutio's death
No 36 Finale
Scene 1
No 37 Introduction
No 38 Romeo and Juliet (Juliet's bedroom)
No 39 The last farewell
No 40 The Nurse
No 41 Juliet refuses to marry Paris
No 42 Juliet alone
No 43 Interlude
Scene 2
No 44 At Friar Laurence's
No 45 Interlude
Scene 3
No 46 Again in Juliet's bedroom
No 47 Juliet alone
No 48 Morning Serenade
No 49 Dance of the girls with the lilies
No 50 At Juliet's bedside
No 51 Juliet's funeral
No 52 Death of Juliet


In addition to a somewhat standard instrumentation, the ballet also requires the use of the tenor saxophone. This voice adds a unique sound to the orchestra as it is used both in solo and as part of the ensemble. Prokofiev also used the cornet, viola d'amore and mandolins in the ballet, adding a medieval flavor to the music.

Full instrumentation is as follows:

The score is published by a Russian publisher.

Orchestral suites extracted from Romeo and Juliet

Suite No. 1 from Romeo and Juliet, Op. 64bis

  1. Folk Dance
  2. Scene (the Street Awakens)
  3. Madrigal
  4. Minuet (the Arrival of the Guests)
  5. Masks
  6. Romeo and Juliet
  7. Death of Tybalt

Suite No. 2 from Romeo and Juliet, Op. 64ter

  1. Montagues and Capulets
  2. Juliet the Young Girl
  3. Friar Laurence
  4. Dance
  5. Romeo and Juliet Before Parting
  6. Dance of the Girls with Lilies
  7. Romeo at Juliet's Grave

Suite No. 3 from Romeo and Juliet, Op. 101

  1. Romeo at the Fountain
  2. Morning Dance
  3. Juliet
  4. The Nurse
  5. Aubade (Morning serenade)
  6. The Death of Juliet...

Ten Pieces for Piano, Op. 75

Prokofiev reduced selected music from the ballet in 1937 as Romeo and Juliet: Ten Pieces for Piano, Op. 75, which he premiered himself later that year.

  1. Folk Dance
  2. Scene: The Street Awakens
  3. Minuet: Arrival of the Guests
  4. Juliet as a Young Girl
  5. Masquers
  6. Montagues and Capulets
  7. Friar Laurence
  8. Mercutio
  9. Dance of the Girls with Lilies
  10. Romeo and Juliet before Parting


  1. ^ The People's Artist by Simon Morrison, p.32

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