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American Ballet Theatre: Romeo and Juliet 2010
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American Ballet Theatre: Romeo and Juliet 2010

- Onstage with the Dancers

American Ballet Theatre

Romeo and Juliet 2010

Metropolitan Opera House

Kevin McKenzie, Artistic Director
Rachel S. Moore, Executive Director
Alexei Ratmansky, Artist in Residence
Victor Barbee, Associate Artistic Director
Ballet Masters:
Susan Jones, Irina Kolpakova,
Clinton Luckett, Nancy Raffa
Ormsby Wilkins, Music Director
Kelly Ryan, Director of Press and Public Relations
Susan Morgan, Press Associate

Dr. Roberta E. Zlokower
July 7, 2010

(Read More ABT Reviews)

Conductor: Charles Barker

Romeo and Juliet (1965, Royal; 1985, ABT):. Choreography by Sir Kenneth MacMillan, Staged by Julie Lincoln, Music by Sergei Prokofiev, Scenery and Costumes by Nicholas Georgiadis, Lighting by Thomas Skelton, Performed by Herman Cornejo as Romeo, Xiomara Reyes as Juliet, Carlos Lopez as Mercutio, Sascha Radetsky as Tybalt, Daniil Simkin as Benvolio, Gennadi Saveliev as Paris, Victor Barbee as Lord Capulet, Stella Abrera as Lady Capulet, Alexei Agoudine as Prince of Verona, Luciana Paris as Rosaline, Karin Ellis-Wentz as Nurse, Alexei Agoudine as Friar Laurence, Jessica Saund as Lady Montague, Vitali Krauchenka as Lord Montague, Misty Copeland, Anne Milewski, Kristi Boone as Three Harlots, and the Company as Rosalineís Friend, Julietís Friends, Mandolin Dance, and Ballroom Guests and Townspeople.

This ballet was originally commissioned by Leningradís Kirov Ballet in 1934, but then this commission was cancelled. However, after Moscowís Bolshoi Ballet also rejected the music as un-danceable, it was mounted in Czechoslovakia by the Yugoslav National Ballet of Zagreb in 1938. MacMillanís 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).

Tonight was my only viewing this season of MacMillanís Romeo and Juliet, the lengthy, dramatic, and tortuously choreographed version, scored to Prokofievís full ballet score. And, my cast choice was easily Herman Cornejo and Xiomara Reyes, two of the most vibrant and petit Principals, one Argentinean and one Cuban. Onstage, they were Veronese, full of vigor, totally into their roles. In the balcony and bedroom scenes, their passion was palpable, powerful, almost percussive. Gennadi Saveliev was Paris tonight, the repressed, seething, rejected suitor, who loses his battle for love, while Sascha Radetsky was in his glory as Tybalt, menacing, boiling, vengeful. While Mr. Saveliev can easily navigate both Paris and Tybalt, choreographically and emotionally, Mr. Radetsky is totally Tybalt. Carlos Lopez, as Mercutio, was charismatically challenged, as his sword and death scene could have been more compelling. But, as Romeoís cohort, masked at the Capulet Ball, Mr. Lopez was full of vivacity and verve.

Victor Barbee and Stella Abrera, as Lord and Lady Capulet, were somewhat mismatched, as Mr. Barbee has a mature, seasoned theatricality and looks the role, while Ms. Abrera looks too young to be Mr. Radetskyís mother, and she pounded her arms and fists in unpersuasive blasts at Tybaltís death scene. In Julietís bedroom, as Juliet slept through the wedding morning and was presumed dead, the parental pathos was unconvincing. Yet, Karin Ellis-Wentz, Julietís Nurse, was poignantly overwrought and nurturing, depending on the scene. Her lack of self-consciousness was impressive. Daniil Simkin, whom I prefer in Mercutioís role, was Benvolio, full of puerile wit and camaraderie. His spins and stage antics were somewhat restrained, as itís Mercutioís role to be the jester. Mr. Lopez and Mr. Simkin were emotionally in each otherís roles. Alexei Agoudine, as Friar Laurence and Prince of Verona, presented himself with dignity. Luciana Paris, as Rosaline, was wildly expressive and full of street manner.

Mr. Lopezí Mandolin dance with five male dancers was filled with fun and flourish. And, the Scene 4 Capulet Ball always grips the imagination with its driven drums and swirling dervish, heads to the side, gowns incandescent. But, once again, it was the partnering of Herman Cornejo and Xiomara Reyes that absorbed the audience throughout. Their gestures are sensual and authentic, ingťnue and inspired. Ms. Reyes bloomed with rapture, and Mr. Cornejo cradled her with devotion and desire. I did note that this productionís costumes and sets show wear and use, and some of the regal hats and cloaks, worn by the Lords and Prince, are beginning to look comical and ragged. Ballet Theatreís Romeo and Juliet costumes and sets could be refreshed. Kudos to Charles Barker for tonightís sumptuous orchestral interpretation of this iconic Prokofiev score.

Xiomara Reyes and Herman Cornejo
in ABT's "Romeo and Juliet"
Courtesy of Gene Schiavone

Xiomara Reyes and Herman Cornejo
in ABT's "Romeo and Juliet"
Courtesy of Gene Schiavone

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