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American Ballet Theatre - Romeo and Juliet
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Romeo and Juliet
Ballet in Three Acts
At the
Metropolitan Opera House

Kevin McKenzie, Artistic Director
Victor Barbee, Assistant Artistic Director
Elizabeth Harpel Kehler, Executive Director
Ballet Masters, Guillaume Graffin, Susan Jones, Irina Kolpakova, Georgina Parkinson, Kirk Peterson
Kelly Ryan, Director of Press and Public Relations

Review by Dr. Robert E. Zlokower
June 11, 2003
Originally Published on

Romeo and Juliet (1985): Choreography by Sir Kenneth MacMillan, Staged by Julie Lincoln, Music by Sergei Prokofiev, Scenery and Costumes by Nicholas Georgiadis, Lighting by Thomas Skelton, Conductor: David LaMarche, Performed by Angel Corella as Romeo, Xiomara Reyes as Juliet, Herman Cornejo as Mercutio, Gennadi Saveliev as Tybalt, Carlos Lopez as Benvolio, Carlos Molina as Paris, Ethan Brown as Lord Capulet, Georgina Parkinson as Lady Capulet, Brian Reeder as Prince of Verona, and the Company.

This ballet was Originally commissioned by Leningrad's Kirov Ballet in 1934, but then this commission was cancelled. However, after Moscow's Bolshoi Ballet also rejected the music as undanceable, it was mounted in Czechoslovakia by the Yugoslav National Ballet of Zagreb in 1938. MacMillan's version was Originally performed in 1965 by Nureyev and Fonteyn for the Royal Ballet. Yet, it is a ballet for young couples, as this Shakespearean duo was conceived as youthful and lyrical. (ABT Notes).

This was a richly textured and nuanced performance, in comparison to the starker Boston Ballet version. Xiomara Reyes and Angel Corella brought ABT's matinee audience to its feet, with their youthful ardor and passionate theatricality, not to mention virtuosic techniques. Mr. Corella carried Ms. Reyes through the air in the ambiance of the innocence of quintessential lovers. The Dance of the Capulets in Act I was a grandiose ballroom event, with the signature, dynamic qualities and bold movement. This was a heated event, with Ms. Reyes, Mr. Corella, Mr. Cornejo, Mr. Molina, Mr. Lopez, and Mr. Saveliev in lead roles. In fact, Mr. Molina, as Paris, seemed too attractive and charismatic for the usually passive, jilted fiancé.

Mr. Saveliev played the dark, evil, arrogant, possessive, and hot-tempered Tybalt to perfection, with brilliant fencing scenes and a blazing death. Mr. Cornejo, as Mercutio, commanded the stage with fiery ferocity and an endearing, yet energized death scene of his own, one that requires personality and presence (he plays his sword like the mandolin, as he yields to death), with fencing skills and daring choreography. Susan Jones, as the Nurse, was perfectly loyal as the Capulets' servant and as Juliet's confidante. The duality of her mission was poignant, as the Nurse is well aware of the pain and anguish of the impending, arranged marriage of Juliet to Paris, while she is already secretly wed to Romeo. In her final scene, she pounds the floor and screams in silence.

Georgina Parkinson, as the doomed and conflicted Lady Capulet, was full of pathos and guilt, as she lay at her daughters' apparent deathbed, long after her prolonged and painful street scene, as she lay at her son, Tybalt's, fatally wounded body. However, the stars of the stage were Ms. Reyes and Mr. Corella, in ephemeral and energetic partnering. Ms. Reyes was a fluid nymph, with purity and presence. Mr. Corella, who has been seen often partnering Ms. Reyes this Season, is her wonderful counterpart, as they exude chemistry and charisma throughout the joyful balcony reaches and rendezvous, the agonizing bedroom scene, and the pathetic suicides in the Capulet family crypt.

The staging and lighting were exquisite, with moonlight on the balcony, morning light into the bedroom window, blackened stages and tiny candles held high by cloaked mourners, and shadowy figures at death's final acts. Kudos to David LaMarche, who kept the orchestra silent at the moments of an audible kiss, the bouncing footsteps back to Juliet's balcony, and the dropping of the vial of sleep potion.

Kudos to ABT for a rare and extremely romantic Romeo and Juliet.

Lincoln Center Fountain
Photo by Roberta Zlokower

For more information, contact Dr. Roberta E. Zlokower at