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on 1 December 2004
It is unfortunate that we have only this record of probably classical ballet's most famous partnership of the 20th century in a major 20th century work. The dancing and choreography is memorable as is the production but, and it is a big BUT, the recording is spoilt by a tight, ugly, restricted monophonic sound (Why, I wonder? Good stereo was available in the 60s) and static camera work. In spite of Paul Czinner's claim, modern production techniques have shown that something as moveable as dance can and is shown in a considerably more versatile and innovative manner than is shown here. Matthew Bourne's "Swan Lake" and Paul Taylor's "Dancemaker" are two examples. But it is the ONLY record that we have of this production and as such should not be out of any ballet fans collection.
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on 15 November 2005
Ballet(and Opera)lovers of younger generations who watch glorious dancers on film or listen to great opera singers on CD from previous generations, should bear in mind that recorded performances are only a reflection of the real truth, for the simple reason that dancers like Nureyev or singers like Callas had certain phenomenal and unique qualities that machines, as perfect as they have become, will never ever be able to convey. For those of us old enough to have seen in the 60's Nureyev's (and Callas') unsurpassed performances, these recordings help us to revive such memorable evenings, and for those of younger generations not to have been so privileged it allows them to have a glimpse of their greatness. This said I agree in that it is deplorable the image and sound of the master tape were not cleaned before transferring Romeo & Juliet into CD as,luckily, his Quixote and Swan Lake have. In spite of it this glorious Romeo & Juliet is a MUST for every ballet lover.
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TOP 500 REVIEWERon 28 December 2007
Yes, I agree the quality of the recording isn't brilliant (I haven't seen the DVD but imagine it might be worse than the video becuase of being transferred) but despite that, this is a towering, masterpiece of a performance. After so many Romeos (not least Carlos Acosta's marvellous recent performence (Dec 2007) at Covent Garden, Nureyev still stuns, shocks and amazes not just with his technical virtuosity but his sheer animal magnetism and incredible charisma. I have watched this video over and over again, and can't ever tire of this wonderful retelling of such a classic story/ballet. Whatever the technical drawbacks (and I'm too young ever to have seen Nureyev dance) this is a must-buy for any ballet fan.
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on 10 June 2003
Make no mistake - this is the definitive interpretation of Kenneth MacMillan's choreography for Romeo and Juliet. Nureyev and Fonteyn are simply peerless and the supporting dancers are excellent as well - David Blair and (particularly) Anthony Dowell are brilliant as Mercutio and Benvolio and Desmond Doyle is pure evil as Tybalt. From staging and lighting to cinematography this is simply the most perfect filmed ballet you can buy. There is a minor criticism, however: Nureyev is so good that I've not seen a performance of Romeo subsequently that even comes close.
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on 4 November 2000
The music of this ballet is brilliant, delicate, extremely expressive and dramatic. Every moment in the show finds its strength and its emotion in the music itself. All the scenes where a crowd occupies the stage are enriched with popular dances, be it on the market place or during the ball at the Capulets. But we are waiting for the more intimate scenes with Romeo and Juliet and those scenes become dainty, light, but never joyful, because we feel under the surface the drama that is coming and will find its full expression in the vault at the end. The fight scenes on the other hand are first of all and above all sombre and dark, bleak and full of shadows, the shadows of our memory and of our inherited culture : we know that playing with such a fire is deadly, fatal and lethal, and the music is there to make that hellish fire of hatred burn anew and burn ablaze. But it is a ballet and The Royal Ballet of London makes a miracle with a gorgeous setting, with superb costumes, with delicate and light dancing, all the time. Naturally Margot Fonteyn and Rudolf Nureyev are the stars, but stars in a sky very well staffed and packed with smaller stars, but stars all the same. And the gleaming light of the main stars is enhanced by the twinkling lights of the others. They do not dominate. They are carried to the top by the magic carpet of all the dancers that fly high and swift in the sky of the music. And this classical dancing is also enriched with the expressivity of every movement, of every bearing of the heads, of every look in the eyes, so much so that we do not even know where to start looking, watching, admiring and satiating our desire of beauty. Dr Jacques COULARDEAU, Paris Universities II and IX.
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on 31 October 2015
Margot Fonteyn, Rudolf Nureyev, David Blair, Julia Farron, Michael Somes.
The perfect line up, a clear and concise telling of the story danced with a freshness thats compelling from the start.
The digital restoration is magnificent, it looks and feels rich and magical and vibrant ( I did tweak the colour enhancement) Nureyev has the looks for a Romeo, Fonteyn floats like thistledown, the ensembles are awash with colour and movement, the fist sequence in Act 1 really something.
I sat just to check for quality, got glued to the end. Not only is this a brilliant performance in its own right but has more that passed the test of time as a supreme example the legendary skills and art of Fontyne and Nureyev, a must for any collector, a must for any ballet fan.
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on 20 December 2011
This is possibly the greatest film of any ballet ever made. It is incredible that this dvd is not available in a European format for the UK. This is a production by the Royal Ballet, Covent Garden; it stars our own Fonteyn, the greatest English ballerina; the thrilling choreography is by Britain's Kenneth Macmillan; but currently it is not available in Region 2 format, and many people in Britain and Europe (including me) cannot watch it.

There are several excellent dvds available of Prokoviev's "Romeo and Juliet" (not least a recent Royal Ballet film), often superbly photographed and recorded. The dancing is frequently marvellous but no other version reaches the extraordinary artistic heights, the passionate intensity achieved here by Fonteyn and Nurevev. They perform as if possessed. Sometimes, fine dancers in more recent versions can seem disappointing when placed in comparison.

Very striking in this film is the astonishing vulnerability expressed by Fonteyn as Juliet, her spirit actually seems younger in this role than some recent ballerinas who are actually half her age. Fonteyn's Juliet breaks the heart. As for Nureyev, he is perfectly cast as the driven Romeo: no other dancer has his sensational magnetism. Both these incomparable artists appear to give of themselves completely, as if burning up as they perform.

When this production was first seen at Covent Garden, people soon realised that here was dancing quite out of the ordinary -which should be recorded for posterity. This wonderful filmed performance of "Romeo and Juliet" needs special attention from the Copyright Owners: it is a highly important document in the history of Ballet.

This film urgently requires restoration, if possible as a Blu-Ray edition (for which there will be demand in all parts of the world), to bring the film to the best possible level of clarity. At the very least it requires issue in a format enabling people everywhere to see it.
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on 15 February 2006
This is a reference performance by two great stars. Many fans are waiting for it to be digitized, but at present it only exists in video format and the quality is very disappointing.
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on 18 May 2012
I must confess this is the first time I have watched Romeo and Juliet, and I was very pleasantly surprised - the musical score was easy to listen to and Fonteyn and Nureyev are always a pleasure to watch - they dance so well together and clearly have a 'connection'.
David Blair was an excellent Mercutio and his dying scene was brilliantly executed.
This was filmed in a studio by J Arthur Rank, but this did not detract from it, perhaps it enhanced it and the settings and costumes were of the usual high standard one expects from the Royal Bsllet.
A most enjoyable production, colourful, excellent corps de ballet - very watchable.
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on 29 October 2015
This DVD is worth buying for the performance of Nureyev. He is at his best in this film displaying the controlled grace of his movements that can burst into a dazzling display of fiery ballet. Fonteyn still shows that she possesses the technical abilities that she always had but she has lost that youthful freshness that made her a superstar. So her portrayal of a thirteen year old Juliet is unconvincing and the closeups of her face are painful to watch. I agree with other comments that the sound which is superimposed is dreadful and lacks the drama that this music requires. but bearing this in mind, this DVD is worth buying for keeping a record of Nureyev which will be watched many times.
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