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Composed: 1935

Length: c. 130 minutes

Orchestration: piccolo, 2 flutes, 2 oboes, English horn, 2 clarinets, bass clarinet, tenor saxophone, 2 bassoons, contrabassoon, 4 horns, 3 trumpets, 3 trombones, tuba, timpani, percussion (bass drum, bells, cymbals, maracas, snare drum, tambourine, triangle, xylophone), harp, celesta, piano, and strings

About this Piece

By arrangement with G. Schirmer, Inc., publisher and copyright owner.

Act I

Scene 1 (Romeo / The Street Awakens / Morning Dance / The Quarrel / The Fight / The Prince Gives His Order / Interlude)

Scene 2 (Preparing for the Ball: Juliet and the Nurse / Juliet as a Young Girl / Arrival of the Guests: Minuet / Masks: Romeo, Mercutio and Benvolio in Masks / Dance of the Knights / Juliet’s Variation / Mercutio / Madrigal / Tybalt Recognizes Romeo / Gavotte: Departure of the Guests / Balcony Scene / Romeo’s Variation / Love Dance)

Act II

Scene 3 (Folk Dance / Romeo and Mercutio / Dance of the Five Couples / Dance with Mandolins / The Nurse / The Nurse Gives Romeo the Note from Juliet)

Scene 4 (Romeo at Friar Laurence’s / Juliet at Friar Laurence’s)

Scene 5 (The People Continue to Make Merry / The Folk Dance Again / Tybalt Meets Mercutio / Tybalt and Mercutio Fight / Death of Mercutio / Romeo Decides to Avenge Mercutio’s Death / Finale of Act II)



Scene 6 (Romeo and Juliet: Juliet’s Bedroom / Farewell before Parting / The Nurse / Juliet Refuses to Marry Paris / Juliet Alone / Interlude)

Scene 7 (At Friar Laurence’s / Interlude)

Scene 8 (Again in Juliet’s Bedroom / Juliet Alone / Morning Serenade / Dance of the Girls with Lilies / At Juliet’s Bedside)

Act IV: Epilogue

Scene 9 (Juliet’s Funeral / Death of Juliet)

CAST (subject to change)
Juliet: Janie Taylor (10/18, 10/19), Patricia Zhou (10/20), Mario Gonzalez (10/21)
Romeo: David Adrian Freeland Jr. (10/18, 10/19), Rachelle Rafailedes (10/20), Aaron Carr (10/21)
Tybalt: Nathan B. Makolandra

Doug Baum, Anthony Lee Bryant, Aaron Carr (except 10/21), David Adrian Freeland Jr. (10/20, 10/21), Mario Gonzalez (except 10/21), Madison Hicks, Daisy Jacobson, Rachelle Rafailedes (except 10/20), Janie Taylor (10/20, 10/21), Patricia Zhou (except 10/20)

Lighting Designer: François-Pierre Couture
Live Video Production: RIPPLEBOX

L.A. Dance Project

Artistic Director: Benjamin Millepied
Rehearsal Director: Sebastien Marcovici

After moving back to the Soviet Union in 1933, following a self-imposed exile of 15 years, Sergei Prokofiev suddenly found

a new sense of purpose as a composer. Hailed as a returning hero, honored by the government and the press, he began to dedicate himself to propagating the ideals of the Bolshevik revolution, both through overtly propagandistic potboilers such as the electrifying Cantata for the 20th Anniversary of the October Revolu- tion, and a conscious effort to draw back from the angry, acerbic dissonance that had made his name in the West. Appro- priately enough, his first great success came not in the concert hall but in the far more proletarian arena of the movie house: the score for a satirical film called The Tsar  Wants to Sleep, which would soon become world-famous as the popular Lieutenant Kijé Suite.

Over the next several years, the desire to write music that could be shared with the widest possible audience resulted in some of the most approachable and universally appealing of all his scores: that deceptively simple drama for children, Peter and Wolf, the music for Sergei Eisenstein’s film Alexander Nevsky, and what is widely regarded as the greatest full-length ballet of the 20th century, Romeo and Juliet.

Composed in a burst of frenzied activity during the summer of 1935, Romeo and Juliet proved to be controversial even before a note of the music was heard in public. Working with the director S. E. Radlov, Prokofiev devised a scenario in which the story was given a happy ending. “In the last act, Romeo arrives a minute earlier and finds Juliet alive and everything ends well,” the composer recalled  in his Autobiography. “The reasons for this bit of barbarism were purely cho- reographic: living people can dance, the dying cannot.” While there were ample historical precedents for this sort of vandalism — Victorian productions of King Lear routinely ended happily, and in one version of Ambroise Thomas’ opera Hamlet, the melancholy Dane survives and marries Ophelia — Prokofiev was persuaded by the choreographers “that the tragic ending could be expressed in the dance and in due time the music for that ending was written.”

After the directors of the Bolshoi Ballet in Moscow read through the score and pronounced it “impossible to dance to,” Prokofiev, in a cold rage, extracted two suites from the ballet in 1936. Guessing — correctly — that the suites would create a demand to hear the work in its entirety, Prokofiev soon had the pleasure of seeing the Bolshoi and its bitter rival, the Kirov Ballet of Leningrad, vie for the right of the first production. The honor of the first Soviet performance fell to the Kirov on January 11, 1940, some two years after Romeo and Juliet was given its world premiere in Brno, Czechoslovakia, in December of 1938.

In spite of its considerable length — at nearly two and a half hours, it is the most ambitious of Prokofiev’s non-operatic scores — Romeo and Juliet is unusually concentrated. Moreover, like Tchaikovsky’s “symphonic” ballets, Swan Lake and The Sleeping Beauty, it is a carefully molded musical and emotional structure in which the music is not only intimately related to the stage action, but is also a self-referential dramatic construct which can readily stand on its own. — Jim Svejda