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Prokofiev: Romeo & Juliet [DVD]  [NTSC]
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Given its premiere by The Royal Ballet in 1965 with Rudolf Nureyev and Margot Fonteyn dancing the title roles, Kenneth MacMillan's first full-evening ballet has become a signature work for the Company, enjoying great popularity around the world. From the outset, the production teems with life and colour as the townspeople, market traders and servants of the rival Montagues and Capulets go about their daily business in vibrant crowd scenes. But Romeo and Juliet take centre stage for those great pas de deux: the meeting in the ballroom, the balcony scene, the morning after the wedding and the final devastating tomb scene. Although The Royal Ballet has performed Romeo and Juliet over 400 times, each performance and pairing is subtly different and Lauren Cuthbertson and Federico Bonelli are utterly captivating in the title roles.
"... dance quality in this performance was technically exemplary at every rank in the cast hierarchy. No detail was left unpolished, from the magnificence of the ballroom scene to the market place, which was imbued with plenty of colour and dynamism from the harlots in particular. Intrinsic to the whole, of course, was Prokofiev's magnificent score. Its performance by the Orchestra of the Royal Opera House under the baton of Barry Wordsworth was achingly beautiful." (Independent Dance Reviews)
"... [the] performance exemplified the Royal Ballet's high standards of seamless, naturalistic and musically attentive dance acting." (The New York Times)
"Such is the breathtaking impact of this production, with consistent excellence to savour from both principals and the corps, magnificent costumes and stage scenery and spot-on camera direction from Ross MacGibbon that criticism is effectively silenced. If you have been waiting for a truly outstanding Romeo and Juliet to appear on Blu-ray, then look no further." (International Record Review)
CastLauren Cuthbertson (Juliet)Federico Bonelli (Romeo)Alexander Campbell (Mercutio)Bennet Gartside (Tybalt)Valeri Hristov (Paris)Christopher Saunders (Lord Capulet)
Orchestra of the Royal Opera House; Barry WordsworthStage Director: Monica Mason; Christopher SaundersChoreographer: Kenneth MacMillan
Catalogue Number: OA1100DDate of Performance: 2012Running Time: 168 minutesAspect Ratio: 16:9 AnamorphicLabel: Opus Arte
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Top Customer Reviews
Individual timings of various sections are an indication of the different approaches to the interpretation. In the earlier version starring Acosta and Rojo with Boris Gruzin conducting tempi are noticeably faster with tauter movements in many sections (such as in the crowd scenes or the sword fights) than in the new version with Federico Bonelli and Lauren Cuthbertson starring with Barry Wordsworth conducting. Some of the gentler sections can be startlingly different too such as Juliet's dance in act 1 taking just 2'20'' with Rojo compared to just over 3 minutes with Cuthbertson for instance. The ensemble pieces with their slower speeds in particular have completely different effects. The market scenes in the earlier version have an unmistakable sense of menace, the harlots' dance has an aggressive edge, the dance of the knights (Capulets) is clearly a demonstration of menacing power on the earlier version while the new version is more of a measured demonstration of stateliness.
This difference in interpretation between the two performances is apparent throughout and equally applies to the main characters, Romeo and Juliet. Acosta is all about strength and power and he is matched by Rojo's apparent fragility.Read more ›
The reason seems to be that this comes from a performance that was broadcast live to cinemas around the world in March 2012; giving an opportunity to produce this recording. Everything about this exudes quality and from the excellent orchestra conducted by Barry Worsdworth, to the sets and costumes - it's all top notch.
What I remember from the Royal Opera House was that in the audience, the sound of the dancers' feet landing was much louder than expected and at times overpowering Prokofiev's delicate scoring. But in this recording, everything is perfectly balanced - every detail of the orchestra is heard and the physicality of the dancers comes across just as well. DTS-HD Master Audio surround sound helps and the orchestra sound closer than the stage noises.
Picture quality is excellent and every detail comes across, due to the sympathetic lighting and you are left to enjoy the spectacle unhindered by any aspect. Of course, the reason this is popular is that there is plenty of action and the story is very familiar. Along with some truly memorable tunes, the whole thing flies by in a whirl.
The Blu Ray package is generous with over two and half hours of the ballet and several extras about the making and one of the most exciting aspects - the swordfights. The booklet included is excellent, with many photos and detailed indexing, information and synopsis. Highly recommended.
Luckily, a recent run of DVDs has recorded the original style of MacMillan's dance dramas - Manon, Mayerling and Romeo and Juliet are now available on film with several different casts. This latest account of Romeo and Juliet, broadcast live in cinemas last year, is a superb case in point, in which dance and theatre are given equal weight.
Lauren Cuthbertson and Federico Bonelli are a decidedly fresh-faced pair of eponymous lovers. Rather than the brooding Tamara Rojo and Carlos Acosta on Decca's recent DVD account, this new Opus Arte film offers the promise of idealistic young love. Bonelli mixes Italianate swagger and the far-off look of an enrapt Romeo. Cuthbertson takes longer than some interpreters to change from girl to woman, yet the sense of erotic release in the pair's Act 3 bedroom pas de deux is gripping. Both here and in the famous balcony scene, they bring accuracy and expressivity to their movements.
This all-too-hopeful pair is caught in a tempestuous world of harlots, sword fights and bullying fathers. Christopher Saunders' Lord and Bennet Gartside's Tybalt are particularly articulate in communicating the pugilistic nature of the Capulet household. Unabashed in their bullying of Juliet, quick to anger, even the poised pageantry of the ball could quickly change to a brawl.
Although superbly danced, Alexander Campbell's Mercutio and Dawid Trzensimiech's Benvolio are slower on the dramatic uptake.Read more ›
Most Recent Customer Reviews
This is simply gorgeous. I bought it to see Cuthbertson and Bonelli, being a big fan of both and I am not disappointed. Read morePublished 7 months ago by Needle
Excellent production although the viewer will not recognise some of the matching of choreography with the music when compared to other versions eg the fight between Capulets and... Read morePublished 9 months ago by F SHARP
Wonderful production of the ballet! Bonelli and Cuthbertson are perfect in the main roles. So happy to have my own copy of this!Published 12 months ago by charlotte
I absolutely love this ballet. The music and choreography are so haunting you are transported with emotion.Published 13 months ago by craftypat
The performances of Cuthbertson and Bonnelli just about saved this for me as a spectacle . Stunning dancing from the pair. Read morePublished 14 months ago by Stevie