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New York City Ballet: Romeo + Juliet 2009
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New York City Ballet: Romeo + Juliet 2009

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New York City Ballet

Romeo + Juliet 2009
Live from Lincoln Center

Founders, George Balanchine and Lincoln Kirstein
Founding Choreographers: George Balanchine and Jerome Robbins
Ballet Master in Chief: Peter Martins
Ballet Mistress: Rosemary Dunleavy
Assistant to the Ballet Master in Chief: Sean Lavery
Children’s Ballet Master: Garielle Whittle
Orchestra, Music Director: Fayçal Karoui
Chairman of the Board: John L. Vogelstein
Managing Dir. Communications and Special Projects: Robert Daniels
Assoc. Director Communications, Joe Guttridge
Assoc., Communications and Special Projects, Caitlin Gillette
The David H. Koch Theater, Lincoln Center

Dr. Roberta E. Zlokower
May 21, 2009

(Read More NYC Ballet Reviews).

Conductor: Fayçal Karoui

Romeo + Juliet (2007): Based on the Play by William Shakespeare, Music by Sergei Prokofiev, Choreography by Peter Martins, Scenery by Per Kirkeby, Costumes by Per Kirkeby and Kirstin Lund Nielsen, Costumes supervised by Holly Hynes, Lighting by Mark Stanley, Technical design by Perry Silvey, Fight scenes staged in association with Rick Washburn and Nigel Poulton, Performed by Sterling Hyltin as Juliet, Robert Fairchild as Romeo, Daniel Ulbricht as Mercutio, Antonio Carmena as Benvolio, Joaquin De Luz as Tybalt, Darcy Kistler as Lady Capulet, Jock Soto as Lord Capulet, Georgina Pazcoguin as The Nurse, Adrian Danchig-Waring as Paris, Jonathan Stafford as Friar Laurence, Albert Evans as The Prince of Verona, and the Company as The Montagues, The Capulets, The Ballroom Guests, Juliet's Friends, and The Mandolin Dance. Dedicated to Howard Solomon.

Sterling Hyltin (Juliet) and Robert Fairchild (Romeo), along with Adrian Danchig-Waring (Paris), lent a sophisticated and mature edge to this Shakespearean drama, with Peter Martins’ Romeo + Juliet once again synthesizing this tragic tale of two young lovers. Each time I see Mr. Martins’ original and unparalleled version, with Per Kirkeby’s large, shifting set and brilliantly colorful costumes, I appreciate it more, even prefer it to Sir Kenneth MacMillan’s 1965 longer, traditional version. Mr. Martins encapsulates intense emotionality and transfers this psychological dimension to a physical dimension of rapturous lifts (in the impetuous balcony scene and even in the deathly tomb scene.) He even has Romeo drape Tybalt’s head during his stabbing scene, which lasts longer than the viewer expects. Mercutio’s own death scene, with campy delays and repetitive drums, is expanded, as well, for theatrical power. Speaking of power, it should be mentioned early that Fayçal Karoui and his City Ballet Orchestra never sounded better, with the atonal strings and exploding percussion in searing sensuality and tight timing.

Each character crystallizes the percussive and propulsive Prokofiev score: Romeo carries Juliet high above his shoulders, upside down, presciently running across the stage, as if the moment will disappear; Juliet dashes to Friar Laurence (Jonathan Stafford) in urgent despair, looking for a way out of her arranged marriage to Paris; Paris corners Juliet, almost demanding desire and devotion, a severity masking his sense of rejection; Tybalt (Joaquin De Luz) broods and seethes with hatred and revenge against Romeo and his friends; Mercutio (Daniel Ulbricht) taunts and teases Tybalt, like torturing a bull before a bullfight; Lord Capulet (Jock Soto, in his signature post-retirement role) slaps Juliet into acquiescence; Lady Capulet (Darci Kistler) enables Lord Capulet’s abusive rants; The Nurse (Georgina Pazcoguin) helps Juliet marry Romeo and then crosses Juliet by assisting in the planned marriage to Paris; and Friar Laurence almost rejects Juliet’s pleas for marriage to Romeo and escape from Paris.

Sterling Hyltin’s coy playfulness is well matched by Robert Fairchild’s masculine bravura, and tonight’s “Live from Lincoln Center” television airing gave extra energy (as well as added Theater lighting) to the event. Ms. Hyltin literally dove into Mr. Fairchild’s arms under the balcony and in the bedchamber; even the immediate chemistry, on first sight in “The Capulets’ Ballroom”, was breathtaking. Mr. Fairchild exuded devotion, presence, passion, and his lines and balance were sumptuous. Joaquin De Luz’ Tybalt was treacherous, boiling, dangerous. Mr. Martins’ choreography, once again, rivets the viewer, and the surreal sets and costumes seem even more effective this Season, with their black lines, primary color splashes, movable parts, so, rather than dark scene changes, there are seamless scenic shifts. The eye never leaves the stage, nor the dancers, nor the action. This was a daring decision and artistically conceived. Adrian Danchig-Waring’s Paris was muscular, attractive, possessed, in contrast to so many passive, detached Paris’ that we’ve seen before. His wounded pride merged with the many wounds inflicted during this Two-Act Ballet.

Even in The Tomb, desire and longing extend beyond life, with Romeo desperately trying to wake Juliet, then Juliet desperately trying to wake Romeo. There is so much more in Mr. Martins’ Romeo + Juliet than in past productions. This ballet is gripping. The audience was full of enthusiasm, and the curtain call flowers were lovely. If only there were flowers at every City Ballet curtain call. There were even extra bows, I assume all part of the live telecast. As a result, the entire evening glowed.

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